How The AHCA’s Abortion Requirements Hurt Rape Victims

Reading through the AHCA. Say goodbye to Planned Parenhood.

For those of you who think that it’s reasonable to ask an abortion provider to only provide abortions in the case of rape, incest, or medical danger, let me throw some facts at you.

63% of rapes are never reported.

Only 12% of child sexual abuse is ever reported.

That means that an overwhelming majority of sexual assault and abuse cases are never reported.

According to the NIH, approximately 5% of rapes of women of childbearing age result in pregnancies. Approximately 50% of them abort the pregnancies.

Here’s the problem. That 5% isn’t neatly distributed over the 37% of rapes that are reported. If you’re going to pass a law that makes it illegal for medical facilities to receive federal funding in the form of Medicaid reimbursements – which is what people talk about when they discuss federal funding of Planned Parenthood – if they provide abortions, except in cases of rape or medical danger, assuming Planned Parenthood would even be prepared to comply with that, then you have to have some mechanism in place to prove that rape took place. Medical danger is easy enough to prove, but a majority of rapes go unreported.

If you think that the solution is just for victims to report if they feel so strongly about getting the resulting pregnancy aborted, consider this. According to RAINN, out of 1000 rapes, only 310 are reported, on average. Of those reported, only 57 lead to arrest. Of those, only 11 ever reach a prosecutor’s desk. Of those, only 7 will lead to conviction. Of those, only 6 rapists will be incarcerated.

Let’s consider, therefore, what, other than those appalling failings of the justice system, might incline a victim not to report. Fear of retaliation. Fear of the backlash. Belief that it was their own fault. Fear of having to relive the whole thing in court. Fear of having to face their abuser. Fear of backlash from their school, or family. Fear of losing employment, or even custody of their children. Remember, most rapes are committed, not in a dark alley, but by someone the victim knows.

In most cases, a victim chooses not to report not because they don’t think what happened to them was a crime, but because they’re scared of what happened to them. Forcing them to report, particularly in light of the reasons they choose not to, can be a form of re-victimization. Any policy requiring abortion clinics to only provide abortions in cases of rape will necessarily lead to forcing victims to report, because even if at first the law allows for self-disclosure to the clinic, eventually the same people who support this will claim that women are crying rape to the doctor to get an abortion, and will require a police report.

None of this even addresses the fact that Planned Parenthood provides so many other forms of care to sexual assault victims following the assault, including STD testing, HIV screening, emergency contraception, and pelvic exams.

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