Anyone who read a newspaper or listened to the news lately has heard a lot of debate and discussion about rape, legitimate rape and how a woman’s body protects itself from getting pregnant in these traumatic situations.
The reality is that there are more than 32,000 pregnancies resulting from rape every year. Since rape is one of the most underreported crimes in the United States, we can assume that the number of pregnancies is even higher. A 2003 study using data from the United States National Violence Against Women survey found that the rate at which women get pregnant after an incident of sexual assault is more than double that of a single act of consensual sex.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, in an Aug. 20, 2012 statement about rape and pregnancy, says: “There is absolutely no veracity to the claim that ‘If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to shut that whole thing down.’ A woman who is raped has no control over ovulation, fertilization, or implantation of a fertilized egg (i.e., pregnancy). To suggest otherwise contradicts basic biological truths.”
What is most concerning is that when these misconceptions are discussed in today’s political context, victims of rape and sexual assault are less likely to seek critical healthcare services and the legal advocacy they need and deserve. And that is nothing short of a tragedy.
The Opportunities for Otsego Violence Intervention Program has been dispelling myths about rape for more than 30 years. But we must continue to send the message that rape is a heinous crime and its victims deserve no less than the best efforts of our political, legal and health care systems.
Maskin is Chief Executive Officer of Opportunities for Otsego.
Opportunities for Otsego, Inc.