Combing through multiple government records, including those with the FBI and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, researchers found that approximately 520,000 vaginal rapes occurred between 1 July 2022 and the start of this year across 14 US states that banned abortion, and around 12.5 per cent of those rapes resulted in pregnancy.
“In this cross-sectional study, thousands of girls and women in states that banned abortion experienced rape-related pregnancy, but few (if any) obtained in-state abortions legally, suggesting that rape exceptions fail to provide reasonable access to abortion for survivors,” according to a study published on Wednesday in Jama.
Only 10 legal abortions were reported during this 18-month time frame in any of the 14 states that have effectively banned all abortions, including Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, and Louisiana.
“Few (if any)” of the women and girls who became pregnant because of rape “obtained in-state abortions legally, suggesting that rape exceptions fail to provide reasonable access to abortion for survivors,” researchers said.
Millions of people in the US report being affected by sexual violence every year with half of all women and a third of all men facing sexual violence involving physical contact, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
With reproductive autonomy taken away from women and girls across US, state policy is further getting in their way of making decisions, researchers warn.
Survivors who become pregnant in states with abortion bans may seek a self-managed abortion, or may travel – often hundreds of miles – to a US state where abortion is legal.
This leaves many women and girls without a practical alternative to carrying the pregnancy to term.
In the 14 states that have banned most abortions after the US Supreme Court’s 2022 ruling in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, researches have estimated that “519,981 completed rapes were associated with 64,565 pregnancies during the [four] to 18 months that bans were in effect,” according to the study.
“The large number of estimated rape-related pregnancies in abortion ban states compared with the 10 or fewer legal abortions per month occurring in each of those states indicates that persons who have been raped and become pregnant cannot access legal abortions in their home state, even in states with rape exceptions,” researchers said.