A New Row Over Pregnancy Caused by Rape

todd-akin 2

What percentage of raped women become pregnant? Answer: nobody knows.

Strike that. Many people claim to know, but the actual rate is hidden from us, though it can be estimated with considerable uncertainty.

Maybe the better question is, are pregnancy rates higher, the same, or smaller for raped women than for non-raped women? Answer: nobody knows.

Well, we’re getting nowhere fast, because folks think they have this one pegged, too. So confident are they, that asking the question is seen by them as sacrilegious. Todd Akin (during his Senate run) learned this the hard way when he said that rates were smaller, which is not the desired answer.

Poor Akin paid for his apostasy, as you would have thought everybody knows. But Celeste Greig of California Republican Party Headquarters strangely didn’t, because in early March she unwisely answered the second question, too. Unlike Akin, she gave the true answer, which is that nobody knows. She said,

Granted, the percentage of pregnancies due to rape is small because it’s an act of violence, because the body is traumatized. I don’t know what percentage of pregnancies are due to the violence of rape. Because of the trauma the body goes through, I don’t know what percentage of pregnancy results from the act.

This is a good answer. Pregnancy rates for a session of intercourse are low no matter what, rape or non-rape. Rape is (nearly always) traumatic. Trauma by definition affects the body. It is plausible therefore to suggest that rape changes the likelihood of conception. She doesn’t claim to know by how much the likelihood is changed, if at all.

celeste greig rubioThe answer’s goodness is not interesting to MoveOn.org, and its sister site SignOn.org, whose permanently “outraged” members have begun a petition demanding Greig resign. They find Greig’s answer “offensive” (possibly the gravest of crimes) and an affront to science.

Science could not be reached for an interview, but papers on the subject made for interesting reading. The one exciting most interest is by Jonathan and Tiffani Gottschall from a 2003 issue of Human Nature, the journal devoted to publishing evolutionary theories of every aspect of human behavior. Jonathan Gottschall has a PhD in English and spends most days “bringing a Darwinian perspective to literary analysis” including “placing events in the Homeric epics, including rape, in evolutionary context.” Tiffani Gottschall is a PhD economist examining fertility of American Indians and other “demographic groups.”

In their review of the literature, they discovered reported rape-conception rates from 1% to 5%, with one paper boasting 10%. Their own work on a sample of 405 women from 1982 suggested 6.42% (not 6.41%, nor 6.40%, but 6.42%) is closer to the mark. They then fiddled with this number, “adjusting” it statistically, a trick examined below.

What science says, generously assuming the thoroughness of their literature review, is that the rape-conception rate is anywhere from 1% to 10%, more probably in the middle of that range. But “more probably” could mean the rate is 1% or even lower, just as it could mean it is 10% or higher. Therefore, to say that any one of these estimates is “the” correct one, is to say what is not warranted and is unscientific behavior. What the exact, actual, scientifically unambiguous number is, nobody knows, as claimed above.

The pair of Gottschalls make some interesting points, but some odd ones, too. What is the chance a women on birth control becomes pregnant when raped? Not high, but not zero, either, unless the form of birth control was sterilization. For the woman or the man. Yes, the man’s fertileness must be considered, which the Gottschalls do. They conjecture that rapists have beefier sperm, or that rapists produce more of the stuff so that once it finds its mark it crowds out competitors, or that rapists have developed keen fertility radars such that they preferentially target the fecund. That’s evolution for you.

Anyway, half a century ago few women used birth control. Now as many as 60% do, but even that number is dicey. Younger rather than older women naturally are more likely to employ contraception, and it’s younger women who are more likely to become pregnant. Women trying to have kids don’t use contraception. Women not trying for kids often insist their male partners use condoms.

In our science of rape-pregnancy rates, how do we account for the women who are raped who are on contraception? How do we account for age? How do we compare studies through time, when the proportion of women using contraception has been changing so much? Women who were once on contraception but now off have more difficulty conceiving, so we’d have to factor that in, too. The demographics of the country have changed also, and these matter in calculating fertility rates.

Comparing conception rates between raped and non-raped women isn’t easy. Statistics for non-raped women are often presented as chance of getting pregnant over a month or year of having unprotected intercourse. That’s because the number of times a couple has intercourse over a month or year isn’t well documented. (Anecdotal reports suggests couplings decline with age.) Rapes are usually single events.

A lot of older women are engaged in fertility enhancement. If these women are raped, perhaps the chance of becoming pregnant is larger for them than for women aging naturally. Women are now having their first kids older, which also lowers chances of conception. A certain, and shifting, proportion of rapes are of girls who have not reached menarche. No pregnancies there.  And women are only fertile for a portion of time. Raped women have forced intercourse at any time in their cycles, while non-rapes women avoid intercourse off season.

Sometimes (as the Gottschalls remark), a woman is uncertain of the paternity of her child: could have been the rapist, could have been her man. They only cite one statistic for “per-incident consensual pregnancy rate for women in their twenties”. This was between 2% and 4%, extracted in a book written in 1966 by the very pro-abortion Lawrence Lader. He also wrote, in 1971, Breeding Ourselves to Death, which is a less jolly companion to Paul Erhlich’s The Population Bomb.

Some rapes are more physically traumatic than others. It’s not unbiological to suggest that, considering only cases of rape, increasing trauma affects pregnancy rates. Nobody knows whether or not it does, because nobody has done a study.

We could, and should, go on, but the point has been, or at least should have been, made. Nobody knows what the exact pregnancy rate is for non-raped women, nor for raped women. Comparisons are fraught with uncertainty, and that’s assuming the data we have collected is pure and useful.

It isn’t always. The Gottschalls made use of the National Violence Against Women survey, which was sponsored by the National Institute of Justice and the CDC. Eight-thousand women were called and asked not if they were raped but “has a man or boy ever made you have sex by using force or threatening to harm you or someone close to you?” (“sex” was later spelled out). There were 405 females between 12 and 45 who reported just one incidence (those saying more than one were excluded) occurring mainly between 1977 and 1979.

They scientifically acknowledge that women could have lied in answering the unknown and mysterious phone surveyor (in both directions, with nobody knowing the exact effect), and that rapes resulting in pregnancies are more likely reported—by how much nobody knows. The real magic in their paper happens when they statistically “adjust” their 6.42% rape-conception statistic to “account” for contraception. Did they do this by asking the raped women if they were on contraception? No sir, they did not.

They instead looked in 1982′s Statistical Abstract of the United States and teased out (with error) percentage of pill and IUD use by age, and then with fingers crossed assumed the (self-reportedly) raped women of 1977-1979 were on average identical. Curiously, the mathematical technique they employed to do the “adjustment” was not published, but since the answer was pleasing, no explanation by the reviewers was apparently demanded. Their final number, based on this small sample and the unknown fiddling, is 7.98% (and not 7.97%, etc.).

This last number is subject to wide and vast uncertainty, around which any competent statistician would have included a plus-or-minus range. None appears in the Gottschalls’s paper. And anyway, it’s just wrong. A raped woman on contraception doesn’t (usually) get pregnant. There is no adjusting to do.

William M. Briggs

By

William M. Briggs is a consultant and adjunct Professor of Statistics at Cornell University, with specialties in medicine and the philosophy of science. He blogs at wmbriggs.com.

  • msmischief

    Trauma can certainly affect the body. The Nazis conducted an experiment of collecting a group of women about to ovulate and telling them they were sending them to the gas chamber. Ovulation was suppressed.

    • http://www.facebook.com/russell.c.crawford Russell C. Crawford

      And the Nazis were pro life. So that is a questionable study.

      • Bono95

        The Nazis were only pro Aryan life. Pro life Catholics love and respect all human life.

        • http://www.facebook.com/russell.c.crawford Russell C. Crawford

          The Nazis were Catholic and they were not only pro Aryan life. They were pro life with the exception being those whom they considered their enemies in war. They were just like todays pro lifers. They want to force the birth of their friends and kill other born people.
          Pro lifers have a choice, they may save born life or they may kill it and force the birth of fetuses. They are “exactly” like the Nazis.

          • http://www.facebook.com/russell.c.crawford Russell C. Crawford
          • Bono95

            I doubt all of the Nazis were Catholic, and any that claimed they were were lying. The Catholic Church strongly condemns racism, abortion, murder in other forms, sexual perversion, pride, wanton violence, unprovoked war, greed, and all the other atrocities practiced by the Nazis.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Esolen/1184164082 Tony Esolen

            The Nazis were not Catholic. You don’t know a darned thing about history. The Nazis considered the Catholic Church to be their great enemy.
            Forget about fetuses for a moment. Focus on newborns. All that does is reel the problem forward a few months. How on earth can any sane person say that I “force” anything at all, if I say, “You must not kill this newborn baby”?
            The Nazis believed that human beings did not have inalienable rights. They were to be valued by extrinsic criteria — their usefulness to the state. We pro-lifers find that position abominable. I have no idea who you think our “friends” are, when we say that nobody, anywhere, anytime, has the right to set out to kill an innocent child, born or unborn.

            • http://www.facebook.com/russell.c.crawford Russell C. Crawford

              The Nazis were Catholic and believers in Christ. They believed that God would lead them to victory. http://catholicarrogance.org/abortionundernazis.html
              The Catholics you cite were enemies in a foreign land.

              Further, the Nazis were the founders of the modern pro life movement.
              http://books.google.com/books?id=nW2aE5-rAMsC&pg=PA19&lpg=PA19&dq=Nazi+laws+abortion&source=bl&ots=WSOIpXivcd&sig=S89QdubMLkbxxliCGZ0B9LxUXNY&hl=en&ei=FNvlTJHOKsOqlAe5vKjtCw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBcQ6AEwADgU#v=onepage&q=Nazi%20laws%20abortion&f=false
              And in fact passed laws making abortion a capital offense.

              The Nazis, like the current pro life movement thought the state should control birth.
              The Nazis killed born life to force the birth of fetuses, just like the current pro life movement. Pro lifers believe they have the right to kill born life to force the birth of fetuses.

            • http://www.facebook.com/russell.c.crawford Russell C. Crawford

              Of course Hitler was Christian and a Catholic. Read Mein Kampf.

              “I believe today that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator.” Hitler, Mein Kampf, p. 46
              “What we have to fight for . . . is the freedom and independence of the fatherland, so that our people may be enabled to fulfill the mission assigned to it by the Creator.”
              Hitler, _Mein Kampf_, pp. 125
              “The national (Nazi) government will maintain and defend the foundations on which the power of our nation rests. It will offer strong protection to Christianity as the very basis of our collective morality. Today Christians stand at the head of our country. . . . I pledge that I never will tie myself to parties who want to destroy Christianity . . .We want to fill our culture again with the Christian spirit. We want to burn out all the recent immoral developments in literature, in the theatre, and in the press-in short, we want to burn out the poison of immorality which has entered into our whole life and culture as a result of liberal excess during recent years.”
              Hitler ( a Radio Broadcast July 22, 1933; from My New Order. ) (The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, 1922-1939, Vol. 1. pp. 871-872, Oxford University Press,London, 1942)
              “This human world of ours would be inconceivable without the practical existence of a religious belief.”
              Hitler, Mein Kampf, pp.152]
              “Any violence which does not spring from a spiritual base, will be wavering and uncertain. It lacks the stability which can only rest in a fanatical outlook.”
              Hitler, _Mein Kampf_, p. 171

              He was just like the pro lifers of today. He murdered born babies in an effort to save those babies he valued more than the life of the women that gave them birth.

            • http://www.facebook.com/russell.c.crawford Russell C. Crawford

              “The Nazis believed that human beings did not have inalienable rights. They were to be valued by extrinsic criteria — their usefulness to the state. We pro-lifers find that position abominable.”

              Do you have a brain? You are doing the same thing that the followers of Hitler did. You are denying rights to born women and you are imposing by law on them your religious beliefs. You, like the Nazis, want to kill those who do not agree with you and those who stand to a higher calling than you or the pro life movement. You murder life and blame it on God.

              You have a choice to save born life or kill it to save your religous symbol, the fetus.

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  • Zundfolge

    The real lesson here is if you’re a conservative and/or Republican politician and some media stooge asks you ANY questions about rape, abortion, pregnancy or any other issue related to women you should change the subject because it doesn’t matter how thoughtful or even scientifically accurate your answer is it WILL be twisted against you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Nunez/100000281459047 Chris Nunez

    But are you an M.D.?

    • Scott Waddell

      Assuming this question is directed at Mr. Briggs, what’s the point?
      Either there are studies on the affects of rape on conception or (as Mr.
      Briggs asserts) there are not. Does being an M.D. grant access to some
      double-secret studies to which the rest of us are not privy?

  • dch

    Mr. Akin basically said that women don’t get pregnant because when the get raped:
    “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
    It was an ignorant and statement, and guess what he “legitimately” lost the election as a direct result. LOL

    • Scott Waddell

      Most people are in favor of allowing abortion in the case of rape even though it is evil. Would Akin have really won if he had not made the gaffe?

    • Tony

      He meant that their bodies respond by suppressing ovulation. And do you know for a fact that that isn’t so? No, you don’t — because nobody knows it. Do other emotional traumas suppress ovulation? Yes, they do; we do know that. Is it reasonable to suppose that this trauma also does it? It certainly isn’t unreasonable, though, as Mr. Briggs points out, we’d have a lot of factors to consider.

  • fondatorey

    I think you are missing the point. It doesn’t matter to people if Todd Akin’s statements were accurate or not, it mattered because they were insensitive (and were thus able to be used as a weapon).

  • Tony

    If we had to make a list of all the things we mustn’t mustn’t mustn’t ever mention — we might as well give it up, get rid of the whole political carnival and the charade of self-government, appoint a hereditary king and hereditary dukes and duchesses of the states, and go about our business. We’d probably be freer, and we’d get to keep more of what we earn.

  • ANON

    I don’t know if anyone will read this, but I’m going to offer it up anyway. I was raped, but did not become pregnant. Regardless of what percentage of women actually conceive in rape, we need not fall into the trap of sound-biting a 30-second response, because a thoughtfully considered answer would be best, even if not reported by the media. When faced with the VERY difficult question about what to do if I HAD become pregnant I say this: If you are a woman of high moral character who truly believes that God has a plan for every human conceived, this is going to be the most extra-ordinary test of your beliefs. In my opinion, it requires an EXTRA-ORDINARILY heroic response. Only God knows the heart and soul of the woman who must face this and the degree of trauma she has experienced. I believe it is incumbent upon faith-filled people to support a woman in this situation (no matter what she decides to do), and to pray for her discernment. When I say “support,” I mean to help her live her convictions, that is, to remind the victim of the rape that one violent act upon her, an innocent person, does not justify her sentencing an innocent child who did not ask to be conceived to death. The rape victim is not forced to raise the child, but she has a chance to redeem a heinous act of violence with an extraordinarily heroic response of love–allowing God’s plan to unfold for that innocent child–let him/her live. Psychologically speaking, abortion in this case, though an understandably appealing option in the immediate aftermath of rape-trauma, only causes a double grief for the victim. Her spirit was killed by the rape, and she has the ensuing guilt, remorse, and trauma of having killed another in an effort to “heal”. Think about it: when humans experience other great traumas, we release balloons, dedicate monuments and plaques, re-build, plant trees in honor of lost loved ones, etc….we have a natural desire to “rise above it,” to see something enduring and living after one’s trauma or death. What’s more hopeful than the promise of new life? The saddest tragedy is that no one has this kind of expectation for women. No one asks women if they would consider rising to this level of heroism. In reality, even if they did, few would accept the challenge. We’re a bankrupt culture and moral virtue has no appeal. People have lost their sense of compassion for BOTH victims, and modern-era politicians lack the demonstrated ability to INSPIRE others to greatness in any area of life–especially the taboo of suggesting that any innocent child conceived in rape should not become the “sacrifical lamb” of another’s violence and degradation–but might actually deserve a chance to live–bringing hope out of a terrible evil.

    • Diogenes71

      Well and thoughtfully stated, Anon. One can consider a fetus,a product of rape, as an unjust aggressor, which may lessen the trauma of an abortion. But I understand the added grief and anger at the attack of the rapist. Your statement: “We are a bankrupt culture and virtue has no appeal” can be the starting point for an essay. It is obviously true. We have no heroes, but a TV program titled “American Idol.” People who are pushed at us a “being famous” are actors whose lives, for many, are a shambles morally. The idols held up for our adulation are empty of many or any virtues. Virtue is attacked in schools, media, movies, TV. Parents are presented as ignoramouses. The family is under attack from all sides including the government. Our children, high school students, are encouraged to go on “food stamps because “It’s free money.”
      Yes, virtue is not appelaing when “glitz” reigns and our idols receive praise and are held up as examples. Amen

      • Bono95

        How is an unborn baby ever an “unjust aggressor”? It’s not the baby that rapes the woman, it’s a fully or at least partially fully-grown male scoundrel. Further, the grown male scoundrel is always present committing the violation, otherwise there would be no violation. There’s only a baby sometimes, and when there is one, he or she is not further attacking the woman, he or she is simply growing and developing like any other baby.

        • http://www.facebook.com/russell.c.crawford Russell C. Crawford

          The fetus is an unjust agressor in that it is an unwanted product of rape. It is not the child that a woman chooses. And you save no life by forcing the birth of the rape baby, you in fact trade a wanted life for an unwanted life. You kill the wanted for the unwanted and in the process steal the rights of the woman and the wanted baby. http://www.scientificabortionlaws.com

          • Bono95

            And what happens if the woman DOES want the baby conceived by the rape? No woman wants to BE raped, of course, but not all women who are want to kill the baby if one is conceived. And carrying an “unwanted” baby to term does NOT “steal the rights” of a “wanted” baby. The woman can marry the man of her dreams any time after the “unwanted” baby is born, and then have as many “wanted” babies as she wants.

            • http://www.facebook.com/russell.c.crawford Russell C. Crawford

              Most women are forced by their church or partner to keep a rapist’s child. However, for those that are not forced, it is fine to keep the child.

              • Bono95

                Actually, if the partner is the rapist, he might be more adamant about getting rid of the child because if the child isn’t born or otherwise known, it’s much harder to find evidence of his wrong-doing. Killing the baby might result in the rapist getting off scot-free and leaving the woman in worse physical, psychological, and emotional pain than if she’d let the child live.

                • http://www.facebook.com/russell.c.crawford Russell C. Crawford

                  The fact that there was a rape does not mean that the only DNA is in the fetus. There is pleanty of evidence of a rape left in the woman after the rape. You are simply wanting to help the rapist be rewarded with a child. It is sick. Pro lifers force the birth of one fetus while killing born babies children and adults. And at the same time they deny life to a wanted child. You folks are insane.

              • fredx2

                The women’s partner will force her to keep the baby conceived in rape? I find that hard to believe.

      • Gilbert

        Trying to pass off the unborn child as an “aggressor” is patently absurd. Except in rare cases such as tubal pregnancy, a baby growing in a mother’s womb does not endanger the mother’s life, and hence ending its life is unjustifiable homicide. The pregnancy may well cause emotional distress, but no where in law is emotional pain allowed as an acceptable reason for killing its source.

        • http://www.facebook.com/russell.c.crawford Russell C. Crawford

          The fetus of the rapist is the agent of the rapist. It is doing the will of the rapist even after the act of rape. The rape fetus damages the woman in more than the simple ways envisioned by the pro life movement. The future of the woman is laid out in her plans for life. Those plans often include a future child by a lover of her choice. If the rapist inpregnantes her she loses not only her honor by the future child of her dreams with withe person of her dreams. For example if she must “sacrifice” the future child of her husband if she accepts the impregnation of the rapist. She should abort and not reward the rapist and the rapist should not be allowed to “take the life” of her future child.

          • Gilbert

            Of course it is absurd to consider the fetus an “agent” of anything, rapist included. How convenient for abortion supporters to give the unborn life such power – a will of his own! – is he negotiating contracts in there? – when it suits them to paint the child in demonic terms. But when this same innocent life is no longer needed for these fantastic arguments, once again she/he becomes “a clump of cells”, and it’s into the vacuum and the hazardous waste bag for him/her.

            From absurdity we are asked to imagine we live in an honor culture, Islamist branch. I suppose …”she loses not only her honor by the future child of her dreams with withe [sic] person of her dreams.” is meant to mean that her future children and husband will see her as dishonored for not having aborted a rapist’s child. Leaving aside the fact that we do not live in Saudi Arabia, that, indeed, very few of us any longer even have a concept of honor, wouldn’t a woman be better off rid of a man so incapable of sympathy for her misfortune?

            Finally and most bizarrely, the writer says the rape victim …”must sacrifice the future child of her husband if she accepts the impregnation of the rapist.” If I had to take a wild guess, I’d say this is trying to say the egg fertilized by the rapist was to be the egg reserved for a future husband? And these are the people accusing Todd Aiken of ignorance!

            • http://www.facebook.com/russell.c.crawford Russell C. Crawford

              Why do you take what I say out of context? It is pretty clear that I mean if a person forces the birth of an unwanted rape child then for nine months a woman cannot give birth while that child develops.
              So she cannot give birth to another child. That second child is denied life. Therefore there is no gain or loss of life in such a situation, only the denial of life to one or the other baby. You either choose to murder the rape baby or murder the wanted baby. Rather than come up with a fantastical story why not look up the “scientificabortionlaws” on google. They answer all your questions.

              • Bono95

                You seem to be very much against “denying life” to 1 child by the conception/gestation of another, Mr. Crawford, are you also against denying life to any number of children by contraception?

                • http://www.facebook.com/russell.c.crawford Russell C. Crawford

                  I am opposed to forced pregnancy. I am not opposed to contraception.

              • Bono95

                Forgive my frankness, but your assertion that carrying a child of rape to term denies life to another hypothetical child is ridiculous. You might as well say that going to bed earlier in the evening then you’d originally wanted deprives you of the ability to take a “quality” nap the next day, or that your mom making you eat all your brussels sprouts denies you the full pleasure and potential of eating your dessert afterwards. You cannot deny something that doesn’t exist. A baby does not exist until sperm meets egg and God infuses those unified cells with a unique, unrepeatable, immortal soul.

                • http://www.facebook.com/russell.c.crawford Russell C. Crawford

                  Bono95 said “ Russell , Forgive my frankness, but your assertion that carrying a child of rape to term denies life to another hypothetical child is ridiculous.”

                  It is not ridiculous, it is a fact. If you force the birth of one fetus and the
                  woman cannot afford to have two babies, then the life of the second is denied. What do you say to the 14 in 100k women that die giving birth to the rapist’s child?
                  I challenge you to explain how any other outcome could exist that does not place an undue burden on the woman or the next child.

                  “ You might as well say that going to bed earlier in the evening then you’d
                  originally wanted deprives you of the ability to take a “quality” nap
                  the next day, or that your mom making you eat all your brussels sprouts denies you the full pleasure and potential of eating your dessert afterwards.”

                  LOL.

                  “ You cannot deny something that doesn’t exist.”

                  The egg and sperm exist and are simply the next stage of life before the zygote.

                  “ A baby does not exist until sperm meets egg and God infuses those unified cells with a unique, unrepeatable, immortal soul.”

                  So what you are saying is that “God” does not know about the sperm and egg and that they must exist before the zygote?

                  So if a woman prays to God about abortion and
                  he grants her permission to abort, should she listen to God or you?

                  • Bono95

                    The sperm and egg exist before the zygote/embryo/baby, but until they join together, there is no baby. God knows they exist (after all, he made them and the man and woman whose cells they are), but he does not bring a knew soul into being until the sperm and egg meet and start dividing and growing. And God would never grant a woman permission to abort, because abortion and all other forms of willful murder constitute one of the “4 sins that cry out to Heaven for vengeance” (FYI the other 3 are sodomy, defrauding honest laborers, and extorting widows and orphans).

                    As to the 14 per 100,000 women who die in giving birth to babies of rape, I agree it is sad that that happens, but it is still more the fault of the rapist than of the baby. Plus, if the woman is living in a developed country, she should have access to medical care sufficient to preserve the life of her and her baby, or at least health care sufficient to reduce her and the baby’s chances of dying.

                    And an outcome to this situation with minimized inconvenience could be had if the woman wanted to have and could afford to have the child of rape along with any number of other children, if conception didn’t happen, or if the rape itself didn’t happen. Abortion is never the answer. It only destroys an innocent life and very often leaves a deeper, more painful emotional scar than the rape itself does, or it makes the rape scar worse.

                    • http://www.facebook.com/russell.c.crawford Russell C. Crawford

                      Bono95 said “The sperm and egg exist before the
                      zygote/embryo/baby, but until they join together, there is no baby.”

                      There is no joining together if there is no egg and sperm.

                      Until there is birth, you can’t prove there is a baby that will live to birth
                      or even human life.

                      “ God knows they exist (after all, he made them and the man and woman whose cells they are), but he does not bring a knew soul into being until the sperm and egg meet and start dividing and growing.”

                      So now you are God and telling me what you believe? You are not God. And what you say causes the murder of born babies. You are not God, you are a killer of babies.

                      “ And God would never grant a woman permission to abort, because abortion and all other forms of willful murder constitute one of the “4 sins that cry out to Heaven for vengeance” (FYI the other 3 are sodomy, defrauding honest laborers, and extorting widows and orphans).”

                      Abortion saves life and pro lifers murder born babies to save fetuses. You are the murderer, not a woman that aborts. Read the “Law of Charity” http://www.scientificabortionlaws.com
                      .

                      “As to the 14 per 100,000 women who die in giving birth to babies of rape, I agree it is sad that that happens, but it is still more the fault of the rapist than of the baby.”

                      No, it is your fault, you are responsible for forcing them to give birth while
                      you cause death of born babies.

                      “ Plus, if the woman is living in a developed country, she should have access to medical care sufficient to preserve the life of her and her baby, or at least health care sufficient to reduce her and the baby’s chances of dying.”

                      The 14 per 100k is the death rate in developed countries. In undeveloped
                      countries it is considerably higher.

                      “And an outcome to this situation with minimized inconvenience could be had if the woman wanted to have and could afford to have the child of rape along with any number of other children, if conception didn’t happen, or if the rape itself didn’t happen.”

                      So it is OK with you to murder born babies, children and adults to force the birth of a rape baby?

                      “Abortion is never the answer.”

                      Abortion saves the lives of born babies, children and adults. Pro lifers cause their death.

                      “ It only destroys an innocent life and very often leaves a deeper, more
                      painful emotional scar than the rape itself does, or it makes the rape scar
                      worse.”

                      The only emotional scar is caused by pro lifers that intimidate women. Women that abort should be proud of the lives they save.

                    • Bono95

                      From what I’ve seen, the pro-choicers are quite a bit more likely than the pro-lifers to intimidate women into giving in to their demands, and no, it is most certainly NOT OK to murder anyone, born or unborn, (willful murder is 1 of the 4 Sins That Cry Out to Heaven for Vengeance, remember?) And of course I’m not God, and neither I nor anyone else really knows just when God infuses the soul, but the Church teaches that a baby’s life begins from the moment when the sperm and the egg unite.
                      Abortion by its very definition does NOT save the lives of anybody. An abortion is considered a “failure” if the baby is not killed, and the mother can die too from complications (abortion procedures are among the least regulated medical procedures in the country, and it’s not unusual for the equipment to be unsterile), or she may be driven to suicide by post-abortion trauma and depression.
                      Science is well enough advanced to find out with certainty if a baby is developing inside a woman, and if it’s not a “baby” before the 3rd trimester or the actual birth, it IS a human being. Its DNA traits are determined at the very beginning, even if the traits don’t show up more visibly until years after birth.
                      You’re right that a baby can’t be conceived without egg and sperm, and I’ve said it before egg alone or sperm alone is not a baby. But egg and sperm fused together become a baby.

                • http://www.facebook.com/russell.c.crawford Russell C. Crawford

                  Perhaps your goal in life is to never have children. But my goal was to have children and if a person denied me the right to have a child, then that denial was a denial of a real living child that would have been mine. I suggest that you speak will a few women that are unable to conceive and ask them if a potential life has value and if you denying them that chance is evil. Most couples would abhor your insinuation that their future children are not real.

                  The problem you have is that a fetus is just as much a potential life as is my wanted baby.

                  Pro lifers kill real babies trying to save potential fetuses. That is insane.

              • Gilbert

                Mr. Crawford,
                At best your phrasing is ambiguous, and it was therefore hardly “fantastical” of me to interpret your word “sacrifice” literally; in fact, this is what you yourself do in your reply: “Therefore there is no gain or loss of life in such a situation, only the denial of life to one or the other baby. You either choose to murder the rape baby or murder the wanted baby.” Can you understand the difference between a fertilized egg and an unfertilized one? Aborting the rapist’s child is certainly murder. An egg remaining unfertilized is not murder, it happens all the time when a woman is not having intercourse, or has intercourse too soon before or too late after after ovulation, or is post-menopausal. (Artificial contraceptives are another matter.)

                I’m not saying the rape victim and her husband haven’t suffered a grievous wrong, deserving of our deepest sympathy – they have and they do. I have personal experience of something close to this: my wife was attacked, beaten and robbed in front of our children, and probably would have been raped had the incident occurred in a less public place. I won’t go into a description of the feelings and thoughts I had at his time – who knows who’s listening and what they might think, or do – but of one thing you can be certain: I am not approaching this issue in the abstract, but as a husband and father who can imagine all too well the horror, pain and rage these victims feel. If the worst had happened or should happen to us, could I have followed the moral precepts I’ve laid down here? I can’t answer that; all I know is that, as Anon said above, it would be an “extra-ordinary test of [my] beliefs”, calling for an “extra-ordinarily heroic response”, and I can hope and pray that I/we would be able to rise to the challenge.

                • http://www.facebook.com/russell.c.crawford Russell C. Crawford

                  Gilbert said: “At
                  best your phrasing is ambiguous, and it was therefore hardly
                  “fantastical” of me to interpret your word “sacrifice”
                  literally; in fact, this is what you yourself do in your reply: “Therefore
                  there is no gain or loss of life in such a situation, only the denial of life to
                  one or the other baby. You either choose to murder the rape baby or murder the
                  wanted baby.” Can you understand the difference between a fertilized egg
                  and an unfertilized one?”

                  The difference between a fertile egg and an unfertilized one is of little or no importance. If you believe that a fertilized egg is a baby then you must also believe that an unfertilized egg is a baby. The only difference in the two is in the stage of development of the gametes. The zygote cannot exist without the egg and sperm as they are the next stage of human life before the zygote.

                  “Aborting the rapist’s child is certainly murder.”

                  No, it is not, until the DNA of the genotype expresses the correct phenotype one cannot prove the zygote/embryo/fetus is alive or human. In fact 70 percent of conceptions die in the first trimester. No person can tell if a zygote will become a born baby until birth occurs.

                  Though aborting the rapist’s child is not murder, it is murder to deny life to the woman that is raped. What you do is no better than forced sterilization at best.

                  “ An egg remaining unfertilized is not murder, it happens all the time when a woman is not having intercourse, or has intercourse too soon before or too late after after (sic) ovulation, or is post-menopausal. (Artificial contraceptives are another matter.) “

                  If killing a zygote is murder then killing an egg and sperm are just as likely
                  murder. The egg and sperm are simply the stage in life before the zygote. The zygote cannot produce a human life without the egg or sperm.

                  “I’m not saying the rape victim and her husband haven’t suffered a grievous wrong, deserving of our deepest sympathy – they have and they do.”

                  You are saying they must carry a fetus that is a reminder of the rape and you deny life to a fetus that is wanted. You are quite evil.

                  “ I have personal experience of something close to this: my wife was attacked,beaten and robbed in front of our children, and probably would have been raped had the incident occurred in a less public place. I won’t go into a description of the feelings and thoughts I had at his time – who knows who’s listening and what they might think, or do – but of one thing you can be certain: I am not approaching this issue in the abstract, but as a husband and father who can imagine all too well the horror, pain and rage these victims feel. If the worst had happened or should happen to us, could I have followed the moral precepts I’ve laid down here? I can’t answer that; all I know is that, as Anon said above, it would be an “extra-ordinary test of [my] beliefs”, calling for an “extra-ordinarily heroic response”, and I can hope and pray
                  that I/we would be able to rise to the challenge.”

                  “I suggest that your treatment of rape victims should have a little sympathy for the child that is denied life by the action of the rapist. Either the rapist’s child is not allowed to exist or the woman’s child is not allowed to exist. You kill one or the other.

              • Ye Olde Statistician

                That second child is denied life?

                What second child? By your hypothesis, there is no second child. Unless you believe that this “second child” exists as a sort of Platonic form awaiting enfleshment, it has no act of existence. Otherwise we “deny life” to infinitely many such children every moment. For example, if we are at work instead of taking a nooner, or if we plead that we have a headache.

                • http://www.facebook.com/russell.c.crawford Russell C. Crawford

                  Of course I am speaking of potential life. We are all potential life until birth. In fact until the DNA of the genotype expresses the correct phenotype, there is no way to prove there is human life or that life will be born. So if you are concerned about my idea of potential life you should be just as concerned about the fetus because it is only potential life as well.
                  As it stands pro lifers kill real born babies to save potential life. That is insane.

    • Gilbert

      Thank you for giving us the fruit of your hard won insights. It is obvious your spirit was not killed, and you are using it (or it is using you) for the highest calling: to protect the innocent. Very good tactics using the term “support” to denote our duty to remind the pregnant rape victim that …”one violent act upon her, an innocent person, does not justify her sentencing an innocent child who did not ask to be conceived to death.” Coming from someone with your experience, this injunction should help many of us, especially men, to overcome our reticence to become involved in these highly charged situations (although I could not extend my support to a decision to abort). The pro-abortion side has for too long had this word to themselves, insidiously restricting its use to mean support for the decision to abort, when of course, it is the opposite decision that is the more difficult and more needful of support.

      • http://www.facebook.com/russell.c.crawford Russell C. Crawford

        Forcing the birth of the rapist’s fetus is simply killing the future fetus of the woman. In addition it causes murder via the “Law of Charity”. So any way you cut it pro lifers murder born babies or wanted babies.
        http://www.scientificabortionlaws.com

  • Alan Cooper

    What Akin and Grieg did was not “asking the question” but *making the assertion* of a claim which has no foundation. And this was done for the purpose of undermining the right of a woman who has been raped to protect herself from the consequences of that rape. And what you are doing is dishonestly implicitly attributing the claim of knowledge to those who attacked those two liars.

    Grieg’s claim that she “doesn’t claim to know by how much the likelihood is changed” doesn’t absolve her of her claim that “the percentage of pregnancies due to rape is small *because* it’s an act of violence” which clearly implies that the violent aspect makes the percentage smaller even if she doesn’t know “by how much”.

    And don’t hide behind the fact that your attribution of a knowledge claim to the other side is implicit. Your use of phrases like “not the desired answer” makes your intent quite clear.

    • Scott Waddell

      the right of a woman who has been raped to protect herself from the consequences of that rape.

      Anyone know what this is supposed to mean?

      • Gilbert

        This is the argument that the anti-abortion position “forces” the pregnant rape victim to have her child, when of course, it was the rapist who used force and only the rapist. Protecting the unborn human life within her from her murderous intentions is not force, and there is no “right” to kill in order to avoid emotional pain.

        • Scott Waddell

          Correct. I admit I was being rhetorical. I found it ironic that he was accusing others of being obscure and then in the next sentence employing the euphemism “protect herself from the consequences of that rape.” I could almost think better of the indefensible position if they could just plainly advocate “Yes, I want a women to have the right to have a bottom-half-of-his-class doctor reach into her womb with forceps and violently dismember a defenseless innocent human being.” But that would mean focusing on the act itself, and they know that support evaporates when you do that.

          • Gilbert

            Scott,
            You may have been rhetorical, but open-ended questions like yours above are great for un-systematic thinkers like me; they give plenty of scope for the intuitive and emotional as well as the rational.

            • http://www.facebook.com/russell.c.crawford Russell C. Crawford

              But those questions do not change the fact that pro lifers murder born babies to save fetuses.

              • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Esolen/1184164082 Tony Esolen

                What in the heck are you talking about? Exactly which baby, where, when, by whose hand, is “murdered,” when this woman here decides, “I shall bear my child to term rather than abort it”? What, some evil demon rises up from hell with a magic wand, and ping! some baby somewhere dies? That is all nonsense. I’d be a lot more suspicious of the murder-causing assumption that human life or death lies in the arbitrary decision of any person, anywhere.
                You fail to make the distinction between compulsion and prohibition. I prohibit you from killing Sam. I do not thereby compel you to do anything. I am prohibiting you from letting nature, in Sam’s case, take her course. The woman bearing a child she does not want is in a difficult situation, but the moral state of the child is clear. I can think of all kinds of people whom the world would be a lot better off without — but I do not thereby “kill” people by allowing these bad people to live. A prohibition against action is not a compulsion; that is a basic principle of moral philosophy and law.

                • Bono95

                  Fantastic point, Mr. Esolen. Thank you.

                  • http://www.facebook.com/russell.c.crawford Russell C. Crawford

                    You have a choice, you may choose to save born babies or to let them die. Pro lifers always choose to murder the born babies.

                    • aGrimm

                      Russell: “Pro lifers always choose to murder the born babies.”

                      Do you realize that you are flat out saying that: a pro-lifer bears a baby, it is born, and then the pro-lifer kills the baby? Honestly, this is delusional. If your statement was true, there would be no pro-lifers because society would put them all in jail and quite possibly death row. Your mother chose life in bearing you. Technically that makes her a pro-lifer. Obviously she did not kill you.
                      Reading your arguments, I have to wonder if you have the faintest knowledge of biology. A pregnant woman does not ovulate, therefore no ovum can or will get fertilized. This fact alone makes it impossible for me to follow your nonsensical argument about some other baby not being born, or killed or something.

                    • http://www.facebook.com/russell.c.crawford Russell C. Crawford

                      I am not saying taht a pro lfier bears a baby and then kills it. Don’t lie about what I say. I am very clear, you have a choice, you may choose to save born babies or you may let them die in an effort to force the birth of fetuses. The rest of what you say is based upon your first lie and does not require a response.
                      Please, if you cannot tell the truth don’t attempt to engage me.

                • http://www.facebook.com/russell.c.crawford Russell C. Crawford

                  “What in the heck are you talking
                  about? Exactly which baby, where, when, by whose hand, is “murdered,”
                  when this woman here decides, “I shall bear my child to term rather than
                  abort it”?”

                  If a woman makes a decision to bear a child then there is no murder. The murder
                  comes when pro lifers force the birth of a fetus. This is done by intimidation,
                  lies, deceit and trickery practiced by the pro life movement. For example if a
                  pro lifer claims there is “life at conception” and that the fetus is a “baby”,
                  then the pro lifer is guilty of murder by their own definition.

                  “What, some evil demon rises up from
                  hell with a magic wand, and ping! some baby somewhere dies?”

                  No, pro lifers make a choice to kill born people.

                  “ That is all nonsense. I’d be a lot more suspicious of the murder-causing
                  assumption that human life or death lies in the arbitrary decision of any
                  person, anywhere.”

                  The intent of the pro life movement is to choose to save fetuses and to
                  intentionally kill born babies as proved by your actions here. You could be
                  agreeing to stop killing born life, instead you are arguing to keep your
                  murders active.

                  “You fail to make the distinction between compulsion and prohibition. I
                  prohibit you from killing Sam. I do not thereby compel you to do anything.”|

                  I am speaking of murder by the pro life definition. Pro lifers claim it is
                  murder to assist in the death of a fetus or baby. Pro lifers make an
                  intentional choice to let born life die.

                  “ I am prohibiting you from letting nature, in Sam’s case, take her course. The
                  woman bearing a child she does not want is in a difficult situation, but the
                  moral state of the child is clear.”

                  There is no child, there is a fetus. You only use the word “child” so that you
                  can continue to murder born life.

                  “ I can think of all kinds of people whom the world would be a lot better off
                  without — but I do not thereby “kill” people by allowing these bad
                  people to live.”

                  You kill people intentionally as proved by your conversation here. The fact is
                  that you have a choice, you may save born babies or you may choose to let them
                  die. Your intentional action as proved by your argument here is to murder born
                  babies and call it saving fetuses. That is a deceit that will no longer stand.

                  “ A prohibition against action is not a compulsion; that is a basic principle
                  of moral philosophy and law”

                  I am not speaking of a prohibition, I am speaking of an intentional choice. You
                  intentionally choose to let born babies die. http://www.scientificabortionlaws.com See the “Law of Charity”

          • http://www.facebook.com/russell.c.crawford Russell C. Crawford

            You would rather kill a born baby than a fetus, that is what you would rather do.

            • Bono95

              So you’re saying that whenever a fetus is saved from abortion, there is always a born baby nearby that the abortionist poisons, decapitates, crushes, or sucks the brains out of instead?

              • http://www.facebook.com/russell.c.crawford Russell C. Crawford

                That is not what I said. So don’t lie. The point I make is clear. You have a choice, you may choose to save a born baby or you may let it die and instead save a fetus.

                • Bono95

                  A fetus is a baby too, it isn’t born yet, but it is no less human. I wasn’t intending a lie above, but your implication of saving an unborn baby = killing a born baby is vague enough to be interpreted in any number of ways, including the one I came up with. Really, the only logical way I can see your assertion holding true is if the woman pregnant with the doomed/saved fetus also has a born child nearby who can be killed (for whatever sick twisted reason) instead of his or her sibling yet unborn. If you’re talking about what you said before about giving birth to the child of rape jeopardizing the chances of life for a later “planned” and “wanted” child, your assertion falls flat. The mother may find that the child of rape, though “unplanned”, is the child she wants after all, or maybe she will gladly accept any and all children God sends her, no matter how they were conceived. Or she may find that for whatever reason she is never able to get pregnant again after the rape, and this first child will be all she has (one hopes she would find this out without having killed the baby).
                  And honestly, if the idea that if your mother didn’t want you for any arbitrary reason then she had every right to dispose of you in order to be able to conceive a “better” child or be “empowered” by having no children doesn’t seize your heart with fear, it sure seizes mine.

        • http://www.facebook.com/russell.c.crawford Russell C. Crawford

          Gilbert you are simply unaware of the fact that pro lifers murder born life to force the birth of fetuses. There is no right to life that does not force the death of another human. In fact there are 1.8 born babies dying each second and 1.4 abortions per second. It is impossible to save them all. If a pro lifer spends one second forcing the birth of a fetus, then in that second, 1.8 born people die. You don’t save life, you kill born life to force the birth of fetuses. Look up “scientific abortion laws” and the Law of Charity.

          • Scott Waddell

            This is so mind-boggling ludicrous it’s hard to know where to begin. Nobody “forces” the birth of a fetus that deliberately causes another’s death somewhere “out there” any more than forcing a bank robber in handcuffs forces the liquor store tens blocks away to get knocked over.

            • http://www.facebook.com/russell.c.crawford Russell C. Crawford

              There is no direct connection between the robber and the bank. There is a direct connection between forcing birth and a women being forced to pay for a child.

  • Michael S.

    As I was reading an article of Father Rutler’s on this site I noticed the comment to the right of the page concering this article about rape. The comment began by stating that the Nazi’s were Catholic! I thought it necessary to quote Father Rutler to how wonderfully Catholic the Nazi’s were from a historical perspective; if anybody is so old fashioned as to consider history as important.
    “After the occupation of Yugoslavia in July of the previous year, the Germans and Italians had partitioned the Catholic land of Slovenia. In the German zone, only nine of 193 priests remained after a year, and these were elderly, leaving a quarter of a million Catholics without the Sacraments”

  • montanajack1948

    Mr. Briggs has devoted a good deal of time and effort to looking at what science there is on this particular issue, only to end by tossing out the science in favor of the conclusion he started with, which makes one wonder why he went to all the trouble in the first place; especially since I don’t recall any controversy even existing about whether or not “a raped woman on contraceptives” gets pregnant? Why do I think this whole article has nothing at all to do with women who have been raped and everything to do with restrictions on abortion?

  • sport

    Mr. Crawford ….I feel sorry for you and will pray for you

  • laser_avenger

    Crawford is a crackpot, Time Cube-esque internet crank. He has spent a good amount of breath trying to argue, and still has yet to cogently explain his argument. Ignore him.

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