A new study coordinated by Planned Parenthood of Montana found that, since the court’s ruling, an estimated 64,565 pregnancies have occurred from rapes throughout the U.S., with 91% of them being reported in states that offer little or no allowances for abortions following assaults. In the U.S., there are roughly 464,000 victims of sexual assault each year.
“Few, if any,” of those who got pregnant as a result of rape “obtained in-state abortions legally, suggesting that rape exceptions fail to provide reasonable access to abortion for survivors,” researchers said in a letter to NBC.
Those so-called exceptions are rendered “virtually meaningless” by rape reporting requirements that mandate victims to tell law enforcement of their assaults before the procedure can be done, says study co-author Dr. David Himmelstein, who teaches at the School of Urban Public Health at Hunter College. “I think, frankly, those are window-dressing exceptions – they’re not actually exceptions [that make] abortion available in cases of rape.”
The study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine this week, called upon data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the FBI to quantify the worrying trend – though those involved in the study also noted that “such highly stigmatized experiences are difficult to measure accurately in surveys.”
The reversal of Roe v. Wade in June 2022 sparked a wave of statewide bans on abortions, with so-called trigger laws put into effect in 13 states following the decision. In somewhat more permissive states, like Wisconsin or North Dakota, abortion access is still complicated significantly by legal battles and a lack of support for existing abortion providers.
The result: An increase in the number of rape-induced pregnancies that is “really shockingly high,” says Dr. Kari White, an executive and scientific director at the abortion rights group Resound Research for Reproductive Health. Restrictive bans are “really interfering with people’s abilities to make decisions about their reproductive health care that are very personal.”
She added to NBC, “Survivors of rape … [have] already had their reproductive autonomy compromised – and state policy is further getting in the way of them making decisions about their health care.”