Maryland Congressman Says ‘Few Pregnancies’ Result From Rape

Another House Republican is raising eyebrows for suggesting that women who are raped are less likely to become pregnant — just weeks after Rep. Todd Akin (R-MS) sparked controversy for his “legitimate rape” remark.

Speaking at a town hall on Thursday, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), responded to a question about abortion by reiterating his longstanding opposition to the procedure in every case except for rape, incest, and if the life of the woman is in danger. But when an audience member pressed Bartlett on the rape exception, he suggested that few pregnancies result from rape:

“Oh, life of the mother — exception of life of the mother, rape and incest. Yeah, I’ve always — that’s a mantra, you know, I’ve said it so often it just spills out,” he said. “If you really — there are very few pregnancies as a result of rape, fortunately, and incest — — compared to the usual abortion, what is the percentage of abortions for rape? It is tiny. It is a tiny, tiny percentage.” …. [I]n terms of the percentage of pregnancies, percentage of abortions for rape as compared to overall abortions, it’s a tiny, tiny percentage,” Bartlett said. […]

“Most abortions, most abortions are for what purpose? The just don’t want to have a baby! The second reason for abortion is you’d like a boy and it’s a girl, or vice versa. And I know a lot of people are opposed to abortion who are pro-choice,” Bartlett said.

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Bartlett hasn’t always supported the rape and incest exception. In 2001, the conservative congressman — who is in a tight re-election race — “co-sponsored a constitutional amendment that would ban abortions and would include an exception only to protect the life of the mother, not for rape or incest.”


Multiple studies have also disproven Bartlett’s theory that rape is less likely to lead to pregnancy. Research from 2003 “found that a single act of rape was more than twice as likely to result in pregnancy than an act of consensual sex.” The scientists speculated that rapists are more attracted to fertile and ovulating women who not rebuke their advances.