STUDY: Women Seeking Abortions Are Seven Times More Likely To Be Victims Of Abuse

In contrast to Rep. Todd Akin’s (R-MO) offensive comments that “legitimate rape” doesn’t lead to pregnancy, a new study from the Guttmacher Institute finds that pregnant women who seek abortions are actually more likely to have experienced a traumatic event like sexual abuse. In fact, the findings suggest the number of women seeking to terminate a pregnancy who have experienced intimate partner violence — defined as sexual or physical abuse at the hands of a significant other — is seven times higher than the national average for domestic violence.

The study, released Monday, sought to investigate why low-income women are more likely to terminate a pregnancy than women at higher income levels. It found that poorer women experienced a greater number of “disruptive life events” — such as losing a job, ending a relationship, or suffering abuse — that contributed to their decision to seek an abortion. Fifty eight percent of respondents cited a disruptive life event within the year that preceded their abortion, including intimate partner violence that led to an unplanned pregnancy:

Seven percent of the women surveyed by Guttmacher after seeking an abortion reported that they had been physically or sexually abused by the man with whom they became pregnant. National surveys have found that slightly more than one percent of US women report abuse at the hands of their partners.

Poor women, meanwhile, were twice as likely to say they had been physically or sexually abused by the man who impregnated them than abortion-seekers with higher incomes (9.3 percent versus 4.4 percent).


Despite the fact that far-right lawmakers like Akin tout junk science to underscore the anti-choice viewpoint that women are never justified in seeking an abortion, suggesting that sexual assault somehow can’t result in unwanted pregnancies, the actual science says otherwise. However, even though women who seek abortions are vastly more likely to have suffered domestic abuse from the man who impregnated them, the official Republican party platform endorses a stringent anti-abortion amendment to the Constitution that does not include an exception in the cases of rape or incest.