"Legitimate Rape" does not cause pregnancy... or does it?

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Let me start out by saying - neither side can really truly ethically or morally do adequate research, testing, and trials in this field - so trying to explain it with science is, in my opinion, a little bit silly. Creating an experiment that involves actually raping women is clearly not an option - although I did once see an episode of Law and Order SVU where a man tried out his own experiment on this topic. Relying on people to join a strictly observational study on this topic is also a bit controversial because the study first has to be in place, publicly known about, and would require victims of rape to not only come forward following their traumatic experience, but also to relive and share intimate details about it that will become public knowledge.

So then without doing a study, ultimately it all comes down to what you believe - or want to believe - anyway. Even so, I really wanted to know more about the basis for this claim that I personally believe is a bit - ok a lot - radical.

Image credit: http://cdn.sheknows.com/articles/crave/pregnancy_test.jpg

It seems people who write about, attempt to research, or publish information on this topic stand on one extreme side of the issue or the other. The first article I found, titled "I guess you shouldn't always trust your doctor" is bashing the views of the hardcore pro-lifers out there, particularly those in Physicians For Life. In this article they bring up the argument parroted by Missouri congressmen Todd Akin "From what I understand from doctors, it's really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down." What Physicians for Life say is "Finally, factor in what is certainly one of the most important reasons why a rape victim rarely gets pregnant, and that's psychic trauma. Every woman is aware that stress and emotional factors can alter her menstrual cycle. To get and stay pregnant a woman's body must produce a very sophisticated mix of hormones. Hormone production is controlled by a part of the brain that is easily influenced by emotions. There's no greater emotional trauma that can be experienced by a woman than an assault rape. This can radically upset her possibility of ovulation, fertilization, and implantation." Seems a tad insensitive doesn't it? But I guess some people believe this and believe the evidence presented that supports the idea - I, for one, do not.

Either way, Todd Akin did go back later and apologize stating that he was misinformed and he now believes he is wrong. But the damage has been done, people are still talking about it, and he gets much more credit for saying it than he gets for taking it back.

            An extremely controversial source of information supporting the same claim apparently came from a study done in Nazi death camps "by selecting women who were about to ovulate and sending them to the gas chambers, only to bring them back after their realistic mock-killing, to see what the effect this had on their ovulatory patterns. An extremely high percentage of these women did not ovulate."


Another article claims that rape victims are more - not less - likely to get pregnant?

I tried to understand the reasoning explained in this article, I don't really understand, nor do I claim that it makes any more sense than the idea that a women can shut down her body in response to rape - but the study does point out that some species (chicken and spiders) do have the ability to eject sperm from unwanted copulation. And tries to insinuate that perhaps that is where the idea that people can do... But then the reasons cited for why a women may become more likely to get pregnant seem just as wild and discrediting as those suggesting that she is less likely to become pregnant, like that by researchers like Jack C. Wilke.


Consider how many rapes in this country are supposedly unreported (maybe 80%) not sure how we estimate this, since they are unreported -  but still, how can we know the results if we don't even know our population size? Here is a blog that tries to explain the complexities of figuring out estimated figures for rape and pregnancies. All of the math went way over my head - but maybe it will be clear to some of you.


Wow, this topic is complicated, confusing, and still I have no real answers. So now I challenge others - can you find either an article that is reputable and claims to confirm one side or the other - OR - find an article that is actually in the middle and not extremely one sided or another.

1 Comment

Yes I agree that there is no real argument that legitimate rape causes pregnancy and that fact that there is evidence proving the exact opposite is interesting too. I researched the opposite and found this article which might explain it a little better. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/wp/2012/08/20/study-rape-victims-have-a-higher-pregnancy-rates-than-other-women/ It used data from the National Violence Against Women survey, and the possible reasoning behind it was because "men are more attracted to women who are fertile and ovulating. In consensual sex, women can decline sex at a time where there might be a high likelihood of pregnancy. That’s not the case in rape." But if you analyze the article you can conclude that 80% of people don't report rape. So this might make the results inaccurate because maybe if it made you pregnant you would be more likely to tell someone it happened, thus making a higher percent of known rape victims pregnant. Plus the results are observational not experimental so this makes it very hard to tell if it is accurate.

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