Abortion bans are having a devastating effect on rape survivors who become pregnant, new research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows.
- In the 18 months after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, there were more than 500,000 reported and unreported rapes in the 14 states that have outlawed abortion throughout pregnancy, resulting in 65,000 rape-related pregnancies.
- Nine of these states have abortion bans that do not have exceptions for rape.
- Five of the states have abortion bans exceptions with narrow exceptions for rape, but apply stringent gestational limits and require survivors to report to law enforcement, which only 21 percent do.
States that have bans with no exception for rape include Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas. There were 58,979 rapes in these states. Ten or fewer legal abortions per month occurred in each of these states.
Of all the states, Texas had the highest number of rape-related pregnancies: 26,313—which was 45 percent of the total rape-related pregnancies in the 14 states evaluated. Vice President Kamala Harris condemned the restrictive abortion laws in Texas, which she described as “immoral.”
“Women across our nation should not be subject to extreme and oppressive laws that dictate what they can do with their bodies, including and especially after surviving a violent crime,” said Harris.
The research concluded:
“In the 14 states that implemented total abortion bans following the Dobbs decision, we estimated that 519,981 completed rapes were associated with 64,565 pregnancies during the 4 to 18 months that bans were in effect. Of these, an estimated 5586 rape-related pregnancies (9 percent) occurred in states with rape exceptions, and 58,979 (91 percent) in states with no exception, with 26,313 (45 percent) in Texas.”
Survivors of rape-related pregnancies who cannot access abortion healthcare in their home state may be accessing abortion in other ways.
Some are likely travelling out state for abortion, with the help of abortion funds, or are using telehealth abortion services operating from states with telemedicine abortion provider shield laws, such as Aid Access for $150 or less, or Cambridge Reproductive Health Consultants for $250 or less, with delivery in 2-5 days.
Many are also likely obtaining abortion pills from alternative supply networks outside of the formal medical system, including community networks offering free abortion pills and vetted websites selling pills for as little as $42 with 3-day delivery. Advance provision abortion pills are available from Progressive Rx for $25 with 3 weeks for delivery. Details about all of these options are available at Plan C.
U.S. democracy is at a dangerous inflection point—from the demise of abortion rights, to a lack of pay equity and parental leave, to skyrocketing maternal mortality, and attacks on trans health. Left unchecked, these crises will lead to wider gaps in political participation and representation. For 50 years, Ms. has been forging feminist journalism—reporting, rebelling and truth-telling from the front-lines, championing the Equal Rights Amendment, and centering the stories of those most impacted. With all that’s at stake for equality, we are redoubling our commitment for the next 50 years. In turn, we need your help, Support Ms. today with a donation—any amount that is meaningful to you. For as little as $5 each month, you’ll receive the print magazine along with our e-newsletters, action alerts, and invitations to Ms. Studios events and podcasts. We are grateful for your loyalty and ferocity.