Study estimates nearly 65K rape-related pregnancies in states with abortion bans

A study published this week estimated nearly 65,000 pregnancies associated with rape occurred in the 14 states that have enacted abortion bans since the Dobbs decision in 2022.

The study published in the peer-reviewed Journal of the American of Medical Association (JAMA) used federal data to estimate the number of rape-related pregnancies that occurred between July 1, 2022, and Jan. 1, 2024.

Based on available data, researchers estimated 519,981 completed rapes occurred in this time frame, with 64,565 associated with pregnancies. Among rape-related pregnancies, 5,586 — 8.7 percent — are estimated to have occurred in states with abortion bans that included exceptions for rape.

“In this cross-sectional study, thousands of girls and women in states that banned abortion experienced rape-related pregnancy, but few (if any) obtained in-state abortions legally, suggesting that rape exceptions fail to provide reasonable access to abortion for survivors,” the study stated.

The 14 states included the study were: Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.

Texas is estimated to have had the highest rate of rape-related pregnancies by far at 26,313, more than four times the second state on the list, Missouri, with an estimated 5,825.

The researchers acknowledged there were some limitations to their study.

“We used CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] data, the most accurate available national data on rapes, but such highly stigmatized experiences are difficult to measure accurately in surveys,” they wrote.

“Nonetheless, the large number of estimated rape-related pregnancies in abortion ban states compared with the 10 or fewer legal abortions per month occurring in each of those states indicates that persons who have been raped and become pregnant cannot access legal abortions in their home state, even in states with rape exceptions,” the researchers added.

The study notes a conflict of interest with two of the researchers. Samuel L. Dickman, who serves as Medical Director at Planned Parenthood of Montana and is currently part of several lawsuits dealing with abortion access. Another researcher on the study, Kari White, has previously been paid by groups that support abortion access.

Updated: 12:12 p.m.

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