Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Weird Debate on Rape Pregnancies

There is a weird debate going on in this country and it involves the number of women who get pregnant from rape. It's apparently a big issue right now

Senate candidate Todd Akin kicked it off saying that women rarely get pregnant during a rape because their bodies have a way of shutting it down.

Now, all sorts of news people are trying to get to the bottom of the Great Rape Debate.

I found this article in the New York Times. It makes clear that few if any women's health experts believe that female rape victims are able - consciously or unconsciously - to shut down their reproductive organs during the assault.

And that sure sounds right. What doesn't sound right are the numbers provided by women's health experts as to the number of women who get pregnant during a rape yearly.

The experts cite a 1996 study that avers more than 32,000 rape victims a year conceive during the assault. That is apparently the only study ever done on the question. They also say that only 5 percent of rape victims get pregnant. Based on those figures, that means some 640,000 women were raped that years. But the FBI says about 90,000 "forcible rapes" are reported (their term not mine) annually. So maybe only 1 in 7 rapes are reported.

But still 32,000 sounds like an awful lot of pregnancies resulting from rape. Especially given the fact that according to sex crime experts only half the rapists ejaculate in the commission of their crimes and many others penetrate their victims non-vaginally.

In 1999, a pro-life doctor named John Willke analyzed the crime data on rape and postulated far that less than 1 percent get pregnant as a result. You can check his statistical analysis here. Willke is a proponent of the theory that stress and trauma can make it more difficult for a woman to get pregnant, though he doesn't make a very strong case

Still, he only attributes a 50 percent reduction in the number of pregnancies he figures occur as the result of a rape - from about around 700 a year to less than 300. That's a pretty big disparity - 32,000 to 300.

Either way, there seems to be a pretty strong consensus in this country that rape victims should be allowed to abort their pregnancies if they want. Though, not all of them do.

Pro-lifers who believe that a human embryo is a human being are pretty stuck with having to be against abortion even in cases of rape and incest, whether there are 300 or 3,000 or 30,000 such cases of them.

But then staunch pro-choicers are stuck with having to defend partial-birth and other late-term abortions  on demand.

The rest of the country is in the middle and need not pay too much attention to extremists in this argument. This much is probably true, to the extent that Democrats attempt to exploit the Akin's unfortunate (for him) comments, it could turn off moderates who don't like thinking too much about rape, incest, abortion and all that other messy stuff.

Pushing these issues too hard at their convention will offend moderate and independent voters. It remains to be seen if the Dems understand that.


Blogger MediaMike said...

The 2nd half of the dustup, but not what has been drawing out the hecklers chorus, was the use of “legitimate” rape as the launching pad for Akin’s discussion. I think the disparity between 32,000 and 300 would mostly be attributable to one’s definition of rape. Did Akin mean “legitimate” as “forcible?” Does the FBI define their statistics without other non-forcible types of rape in mind? What definition of rape and forcibility do the experts and Willke each use? I think the more interesting elements of this entire discussion are what makes one rape legitimate and another illegitimate coupled with the GOP’s official platform not allowing any exemptions for rape, incest, and health of the mother as part of their call for an outright banning of all abortions.

August 26, 2012 at 3:01 PM 
Blogger Dannytheman said...

This is a woman's issue, we men are not permitted to have an opinion on this. We just have to accept what is said or get slammed if we attempt to be rational.

No, what is disturbing is that an up till then unknown Congressman says something stupid and the Dems can't move passed it. Smoke and mirrors. "At least the Dems don't have to talk about unemployment, the economy, the changes to Welfare for work, Obamascare and other broader more globally impacting issues.

August 26, 2012 at 3:16 PM 
Blogger CharlieSix said...

Appartently the President doesn't agree with the reality that pushing the unfortunate Akin comments will backfire. Thankfully, the President doesn't agree with the reality that his jumping on the unfortunate Akin comments will backfire...

As Danny points out, this gives the Obama team something other than the economy to focus on. Which during the next 75 plus days will hopefully continue. Because the electorate isn't stupid.

August 26, 2012 at 8:49 PM 
Blogger CharlieSix said...

Good switch, MediaMike. Some folks dream of the wonders they'll do. Before their time on this planet is through. When you have the opportunity, please tell BobBohne that he is missed.

August 26, 2012 at 8:53 PM 
Blogger MediaMike said...

I’m not following you on two matters Charlie:
1) I wasn’t trying to switch anything, I was agreeing with Gil that the actual number of pregnancies resulting from rapes isn’t much of a debate and there are better elements of the discussion that help frame out where differing parties and candidates stand. I’d also offer that any comments made about abortion policies are less of a switch than rotating the discussion on this article to economic policy debates. Please also note that I didn’t feel the need to flame Danny when he introduced the economic elements of the campaign. That is also a perfectly valid line of discussion in the context of the article.

2) If you’re pining away for Bob, that’s your business.

August 27, 2012 at 4:49 AM 
Blogger CharlieSix said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts about my comments, MediaMike. And, no, I'm not pining about Bob's retirement from Spencerblog. Yes I will miss having the benefit of his thinking. But I also respect that he wanted to retire and move on to other things.

August 27, 2012 at 8:18 PM 
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