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Pregnancy is less likely after rape, leading ob/gyn says

Catholic World News - August 28, 2012

Dr. Thomas Hilgers, a Creighton University obstetrics professor and director of the Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction, has revealed that statistics show women are less likely to become pregnant when they are raped than when they engage in consensual intercourse.

Noting that “the emotional impact of rape often clouds a legitimate and truthful discussion,” Dr. Hilgers said that a study of rape victims in Nebraska found that only 1.6% became pregnant, whereas a random sample would have found 2-4% of all women pregnant after an act of intercourse. He concluded that “complex mechanisms of human ovulation and its interaction with stress” could explain the discrepancy.

Dr. Hilgers made his observation in the context of a debate provoked by statements from Rep. Akins, the Missouri candidate for the US Senate, who has come under intense criticism for saying that a woman’s body has methods of preventing pregnancy after rape. Dr. Hilgers emphasized that although some such forces may be at work, they are not under the woman’s control.

Dr. Hilgers also stressed that pregnancies resulting from rape account for only a tiny proportion of all pregnancies, and for less than 0.01% of all abortions. He added: “Furthermore, of those rape victims, 98.4% of them will not be helped in any fashion by abortion; and, for those who are aborted, they are then potentially confronted with a double dose of psychological trauma.”

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