Pregnancy, Rape, and Abortion

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August 22, 2012 (Omaha, NEBRASKA) – According to Thomas W. Hilgers, MD, an obstetrician-gynecologist who directs a reproductive ultrasound center that specializes in the study of naturally-occurring ovulation events at the National Center for Women’s Health in Omaha, Nebraska, “the question of rape always stirs the emotions whenever it is introduced into the abortion debate. Unfortunately, the emotional impact of rape often clouds a legitimate and truthful discussion.”
In the State of Nebraska from the years 2005 through 2011, there were 26,521 abortions reported to the Nebraska Health & Human Services Division. Of those abortions, 65 were performed for the indication of “sexual assault.” This is a rate of 0.2% of all the abortions performed. Hilgers says, “In other words, 99.8% of all the abortions performed in the State of Nebraska (and this would be relatively representative of other states as well) are performed for reasons other than rape. It should also be pointed out that, during the same period of time, the abortions performed for the indication of ‘incest’ numbered two and the incidence was 0.01%.”
During this period of time, there were 4,111 forcible rapes and sexual assaults reported in the State of Nebraska for those 65 abortions. “Presuming that all of the forcible rapes have been reported, this is a pregnancy rate of 1.6%, which is considerably lower than one would expect for a random act of intercourse, the pregnancy rate of which should range from 2% to 4%,” said Hilgers. “This concurs with recent statements that the pregnancy rate from forcible rape and sexual assault is lower than it is in normal fertility. 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.”
Our studies of human ovulation by ultrasound (which number over 3,000 separate cycles) and also our study of the natural fertility system show that ovulation can be delayed by stressful events, and that this actually is quite common. Thus, the idea that a woman’s body can “shut down” ovulation and prevent pregnancy is also a true statement. Of course, this is not under the woman’s control. It is an effect of the complex mechanisms of human ovulation and its interaction with stress,” said Hilgers.
“We have the responsibility of finding the rapist and prosecuting him to the full extent of the law and being very firm about it,” Dr. Hilgers said. “We also have the responsibility to the woman who is the victim of rape. But when 98.4% of rape victims do not become pregnant but suffer the emotional trauma of the rape, then crisis intervention and support is extremely helpful and important. More emphasis on this type of support needs to be provided.”
Dr. Hilgers is an obstetrician-gynecologist who specializes in reproductive medicine and surgery. He is also the Director of a nationally accredited Reproductive Ultrasound Center and the Director of the National Center for Women’s Health in Omaha, Nebraska. He is a Clinical Professor in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology in the Creighton University School of Medicine and the Director of the Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction.
Pope Paul VI Institute & National Center for Women’s Health

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