The 6 Craziest Things People Have Said About Pregnancy And Rape

Do some anti-abortion advocates really believe women can’t get pregnant from rape? Turns out, they do.

Idaho Senator Chuck Winder has caused a bit of a scandal with this bizarre comment: “I would hope that when a woman goes into a physician, with a rape issue, that that physician will indeed ask her about perhaps her marriage, was this pregnancy caused by normal relations in a marriage, or was it truly caused by a rape.” Winder didn’t explicitly say that rape can’t cause pregnancy — but some other people have.

John Miller / AP

Idaho Sen. Chuck Winder.

1. Weather analogies

Federal Judge James Leon Holmes, a Bush appointee, said in an article published circa 1997: “Concern for rape victims is a red herring because conceptions from rape occur with approximately the same frequency as snowfall in Miami.”

2. “Hormonal response”

From the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch, 2006, via Democratic Underground:

“I think that life begins when the chromosomes of the sperm and egg line up,” said Dr. Richard Dobbins, who works in the emergency department at Hardin Memorial Hospital in Kenton.

Dobbins also questioned the need for emergency contraception in rape cases, saying that most women either are not fertile during assault or do not become pregnant because the trauma prompts a hormonal response that prevents ovulation.

“So if they do get pregnant, they wanted it, is that it?” a reproductive-rights advocate in the audience asked.

3. Juices

In 1995, Republican Rep. Henry Aldridge told the House Appropriations committee:

The facts show that people who are raped — who are truly raped — the juices don’t flow, the body functions don’t work and they don’t get pregnant. Medical authorities agree that this is a rarity, if ever.

4. Secretions

From the Philadelphia Inquirer, 1988:

The odds that a woman who is raped will get pregnant are “one in millions and millions and millions,” said state Rep. Stephen Freind, R-Delaware County, the Legislature’s leading abortion foe.

The reason, Freind said, is that the traumatic experience of rape causes a woman to “secrete a certain secretion” that tends to kill sperm.

Two Philadelphia doctors specializing in human reproduction characterized Freind’s contention as scientifically baseless.

5. Sex ed

From a thread on Democratic Underground, regarding the claim that rape can’t cause pregnancy:

In my Catholic HS all the girls got that question wrong on the test

Because we were taught that piece of biological wishful thinking. We all knew better than to believe that only invited sperm can fertilize an ovum.

My guess is that the people who made up that bit of tripe have some amount of compassion but are so virulently anti-choice that they rationalize away having to make an exception for women pregnant by a violent and hateful act. If it can’t make you pregnant, we don’t have to worry about you aborting for that reason.

But how in the hell is an ovum going to repel invading sperm and not invited sperm? How can the ovum tell?

I can only hope that schools are not continuing to teach this erroneous information.

6. Rumors (and the truth)

From Planned Parenthood’s Pregnancy Q&A:

I heard that a woman can’t get pregnant from being raped. Is that true?

No, it is not true. Women can and do get pregnant from rape. In fact, more than five percent of all rapes result in pregnancy. That is one reason why Planned Parenthood is fighting so hard to make it mandatory for emergency rooms across the country to offer emergency contraception to women who have been raped.

Emergency contraception can reduce the risk of pregnancy by 75 to 89 percent. More than 22,000 unwanted pregnancies a year could be prevented if all U.S. women who were raped were provided with emergency contraception.

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