Dr. John C. Willke: Few Women Become Pregnant After Being Raped

Dr. John C. Willke, the president of the National Right to Life Committee, says that women cannot easily become pregnant when they are raped and that the number of cases of pregnancies resulting from rape are very rare. Willke is a medical doctor, but his knowledge of basic female biology and basic science seem to be nearly non-existent.

"Assault rape pregnancies are extremely rare. Most pro-lifers have heard this comment, but too often cannot back it up with facts. ...

How many forcible rapes result in a pregnancy? The numbers claimed have ranged the entire spectrum of possibilities. Some feminists have claimed as high as 5 to 10 percent, which is absurd. ...

To get and stay pregnant a woman's body must produce a very sophisticated mix of hormones. Hormone production is controlled by a part of the brain that is easily influenced by emotions. There's no greater emotional trauma that can be experienced by a woman than an assault rape. This can radically upset her possibility of ovulation, fertilization, implantation and even nurturing of a pregnancy."

It's interesting that Dr. Willke admits that pro-lifers can't back up this claim with facts, then proceeds to not back up his claim with facts. All he has is speculation based on data of how often rapes occur.

Willke concludes, based on nothing more than speculation, that there are fewer than 400 pregnancies every year produced by rape. Real scientists produced real data back in 1996 and published a study in the American Journal of Obstetricians and Gynecologists that there are around 32,101 pregnancies in the United States each year.

This was real science which Dr. Willke could not legitimately have been unaware of, had he actually done any research on the issue. According to the study, every act of a rape of a women between 12 and 45 years of age has exactly the same chance of resulting in a pregnancy as every act of consensual sex: about a 5%.

Dr. Willke's comments here are part of two larger and long-running efforts by Republicans and conservative Christians. First, they are trying to redefine "rape" in order to differentiate between "legitimate" rape (sometimes referred to as "forcible" rape or, here, "assault" rape) and other rapes which are somehow not really legitimate. This is designed to undermine support for rape victims.

Second, they are trying to undermine support for legal access to abortion generally by denying that there should be exceptions to laws which criminalize abortion.

Video

Interview with Pro-Life Pioneer Dr. Jack Willke

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