Attorney Christine Flowers writes a column for the Philadelphia Daily News, picked up occasionally by the Miami Hurled. While I don’t much care for her flavor of conservative politics (or anybody else’s, come to that), she’s usually good about framing her arguments.
Not this time.
In a discussion of Ben Carson’s critics, she writes this:
Here, they seized on yet another opportunity to paint this renowned neurosurgeon as the father of all whack jobs because he had the audacity to compare a slaveholder’s proprietary interest in human chattel with a pregnant woman’s refusal to see the fetus she was carrying as anything other than a mass of cells to which she had sole title.
Y’know, I’ve met many women who have undergone abortions, some multiple times, and never have I encountered any who considered herself carrying “a mass of cells to which she had sole title.” Not one ever. That’s belittling, insulting, and Just Plain Wrong (JPW).
He said that anyone who would force a woman to bear and then raise her rapist’s baby is inhuman. This is the part where I sigh, and then yawn. Having been in the prolife movement for a very long time, I’m used to that rape/incest diversionary tactic. If they were smart, abortion rights advocates wouldn’t keep going to that dried-up well, because it’s been proven that the incidence of abortions triggered by rape is statistically insignificant. According to a 1987 study by the Guttmacher Institute, less than 1 percent of women cited rape or incest as the reason they needed an abortion. Admittedly, this is an old study, but even if that number has increased in the last 30 years, it doesn’t change the fact that most abortions in this country are elective, not therapeutic. Carson knows that.
“Carson knows that,” does he.
Two things. The first is the “statistically insignificant” remark. How relevant is the statistic when it’s your problem? When you’ve been raped? Even before we look at how many actual cases add up to “statistically insignificant,” if it were MY family member raped and knocked up, then forced by law against her will to carry that fetus to term, damn betcha I’d be raging against the machine.
Not Christine Flowers. She “sighs and yawns.”
And by dismissing these pregnant rape victims as “statistically insignificant,” she’s performing a worse dehumanizing act than her first one — that concocted la-te-da crack about women considering their unwanted fetuses nothing more than “a mass of cells.”
So let’s look at the actual numbers, Start with the study learned counsel herself cites:
[I]n a 2004 national survey of a representative sample of women who had undergone abortions, 1 percent of the women indicated that they had been victims of rape. In addition, slightly less than half a percent said they became pregnant as a result of incest. At the time of that survey, an estimated 1.3 million women were undergoing abortions annually in the United States, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
The survey thus suggests that each year about 19,500 U.S. abortions are undertaken to end pregnancies that occurred as a result of rape or incest. [VIA]
There’s what 1% calculates to. Do 19,500 incidents of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest sound “statistically insignificant to you? Even if you personally aren’t among them?
Now try this on —
In a 1996 study, researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina set out to determine the rape-related pregnancy rate in the United States. They estimated that about 5 percent of rape victims of reproductive age (12 to 45) become pregnant — a percentage that results in about 32,000 pregnancies each year.
“Rape-related pregnancy occurs with significant frequency,” the researchers wrote. “It is a cause of many unwanted pregnancies and is closely linked with family and domestic violence.”
Four years later, another study, this time conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, estimated that rape led to as many as 25,000 pregnancies in the U.S. each year. “Pregnancy following rape is a continuing and significant public health issue,” concluded the authors of that study.
So, rape and consensual sex have the same pregnancy rate. This means that of those 64,080 US rapes in 2004-2005, minus the 15% of rapes that are of children under the age of 12 which gets us to 54,468 rapes of almost all reproductively-aged women, somewhere between 1,689 (3.1%) to 2,723 (5%) pregnancies from rape could have occurred in that year alone. [VIA]
“Rape and consensual sex have the same pregnancy rate.” Does Carson know that, too? Does Flowers?
Truly an intellectually dishonest treatment by counsel, reinforcing the stereotype of an attorney more concerned with persuasion than truth. But that would dehumanize her (as she sighs and yawns), so I won’t go there. Well, maybe I already did.
P.S. Here’s some additional fun facts I encountered while researching this:
- A 1996 study found a national rape-related pregnancy rate of 5% per rape among victims between the ages of 12 and 45.
- When study samples are expanded to the entire population, it is estimated that between 3,200 to 50,000 rape related pregnancies occur every year.
- The figures about women becoming pregnant from rape are all about 20 years old, but there isn’t any new data that has been published since.
- The majority of pregnancies that occurred from rape were among adolescents and resulted from assault by a known, often related perpetrator.
- Only 11.7% of the women who discover they are pregnant after being raped received immediate medical attention.
- 32.4% of rape victims did not discover they were pregnant until they had already entered the second trimester. [VIA]