Don’t Traumatize Women Pregnant Through Rape Again: Candidate at GOP Debate

Here’s a short clip from the GOP Presidential candidate debate that aired Aug. 11, in which candidate Rick Santorum defends the humanity of the unborn child conceived in rape, but also points out that abortion constitutes a second trauma for the woman who was assaulted:

Indeed, most people assume that women and girls who become pregnant through sexual assault would want abortions.  But what do the women and girls themselves say?

The Elliot Institute conducted a survey 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. The survey found that:

  • 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, often against their own wishes. 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.
  • Of the women who gave birth to a child conceived in sexual assault, none expressed regret or wished they had aborted instead.1

Further, studies that examine risk factors for psychological problems after abortion find that women with a history of sexual assault or abuse are more likely to have difficulty coping after abortion.


Learn more:

Read and share our Special Report on Sexual Assault Pregnancy and Abortion
Read and share our “Hard Cases: New Fact, New Answers” Fact Sheet (feel free to make copies for distribution)
Order Victims and Victors: Speaking Out About Their Pregnancies, Abortions & 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.

H/T video Live Action.

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