Survey Finds Most Women Pregnant From Sexual Assault
Don’t Want Abortions; Say It Adds to Trauma
There has been very little research conducted to date on the experiences of women who became pregnant as a result of rape or incest. One survey was conducted by the Elliot Institute for our book, Victims and Victors: Speaking Out About Their Pregnancies, Abortions and Children Resulting From Sexual Assault.
Our survey was based on letters and survey responses of 192 women who became pregnant as a result of rape or incest. 164 were victims of rape and 28 were victims of incest (sexual assault involving a family member). Overall, 69 percent continued the pregnancy and either raised the child or made an adoption plan, 29 percent had abortions and 1.5 percent had miscarriages.
- Nearly 80 percent of the women who aborted the pregnancy reported that abortion had been the wrong solution.
- Most women who had abortions said that abortion only increased the trauma they were experiencing.
- In many cases, the victim faced strong pressure or demands to abort. 43 percent of rape victims who aborted said they felt pressured or were strongly directed by family members or health workers to abort.
- In almost every case where an incest victim had an abortion, it was the girl’s parents or the perpetrator who made the decision and arrangements for the abortion, not the girl herself. In several cases, the abortion was carried out against her expressed wishes, and in a few cases, without her knowledge that she was pregnant or that an abortion was taking place.
- More than 80 percent of the women who carried their pregnancies to term said that they were happy that they had continued the pregnancy.
- None of the women who gave birth to a child conceived in sexual assault expressed regret or wished they had aborted instead.1
Further, studies that examine risk factors for psychological problems after abortion women with a history of sexual assault or abuse are more likely to have difficulty coping after abortion.
Learn more: For a more detailed account of the survey results, see the book Victims and Victors: Speaking Out About Their Pregnancies, Abortions and Children Resulting from Sexual Assault.
1. Reardon, Makimaa & Sobie, Victims and Victors: Speaking Out About Their Pregnancies, Abortions and Children Resulting from Sexual Assault (Springfield, IL: Acorn Books, 2000) 19-22.
Subsequently added citation:
“Rape-related pregnancy estimates and descriptive characteristics from a national sample of women,” MM Holmes et al, Am J Obstet Gynecol 175(2): 320-324, 1996
- A national probability sample of U.S. women found that rape-related pregnancy was 5% per rape among victims of reproductive age (12-45); 32.4% did not discover they were pregnant until the second trimester ;32.2% opted to keep the infant, 50% had an abortion, 5.9% placed the infant for adoption, and 11.8% had a spontaneous abortion.