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Rape-Related Pregnancy and Association With Reproductive Coercion in the U.S.

  • Kathleen C. Basile
    Correspondence
    Address correspondence to: Kathleen C. Basile, PhD, Division of Violence Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4770 Buford Highway NE, MS F64, Atlanta GA 30341.
    Affiliations
    Division of Violence Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia
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  • Sharon G. Smith
    Affiliations
    Division of Violence Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia
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  • Yang Liu
    Affiliations
    Division of Analysis, Research, and Practice Integration, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia
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  • Marcie-jo Kresnow
    Affiliations
    Division of Analysis, Research, and Practice Integration, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia
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  • Amy M. Fasula
    Affiliations
    Division of Reproductive Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia
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  • Leah Gilbert
    Affiliations
    Division of Violence Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia
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  • Jieru Chen
    Affiliations
    Division of Analysis, Research, and Practice Integration, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia
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Published:October 22, 2018DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2018.07.028

      Introduction

      Rape-related pregnancy is a public health problem where sexual violence and reproductive health intersect; yet, there is a dearth of research to inform public health practice. The authors examined the prevalence and characteristics of rape-related pregnancy in U.S. women and its association with intimate partner reproductive coercion.

      Methods

      Data years 2010–2012 are pooled from the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, a telephone survey of U.S. adults. Accounting for complex survey design, in 2017, authors estimated the prevalence of vaginal rape–related pregnancy for U.S. women overall and by race/ethnicity. The authors also examined the proportion of rape-related pregnancy among victims of vaginal rape overall, by perpetrator type and by presence of reproductive coercion in the context of intimate partner rape.

      Results

      Almost 2.9 million U.S. women (2.4%) experienced rape-related pregnancy during their lifetime. Among rape victims, 77.3% reported a current/former intimate partner perpetrator, and 26.2% of intimate partner rape victims reported rape-related pregnancy compared with those raped by an acquaintance (5.2%) or stranger (6.9%). Women raped by an intimate partner and reporting rape-related pregnancy were significantly more likely to have experienced reproductive coercion compared with women who were raped by an intimate partner but did not become pregnant.

      Conclusions

      This paper reports the first national prevalence of rape-related pregnancy by any perpetrator in two decades. The high proportion of rape-related pregnancy committed by intimate partner perpetrators and its association with reproductive coercion suggest the need for primary prevention of intimate partner violence and access to trauma-informed reproductive health services for rape/intimate partner violence victims.
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