Understanding Pregnancy Resulting from Rape in the United States

Rape-related pregnancy (RRP) is a public health problem where sexual violence (SV) and reproductive health connect. In the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS), RRP includes pregnancy that a rape victim attributed to rape.

Women, in particular, are vulnerable to rape. There are a number of short-term health consequences of rape including injury, sexually transmitted infection, and pregnancy.

Rape and Rape-Related Pregnancy: By the Numbers

  • Almost 3 million women in the U.S. experienced RRP during their lifetime.
  • The prevalence of RRP was similar across racial and ethnic groups (i.e., Hispanic, White non-Hispanic, Black non-Hispanic, and other non-Hispanic).
  • About 18 million women have experienced vaginal rape in their lifetime. Women who were raped by a current or former intimate partner were more likely to report RRP (26%) compared to those raped by an acquaintance (5.2%) or a stranger (6.9%).
  • Of women who were raped by an intimate partner, 30% experienced a form of reproductive coercion by the same partner. Specifically, about 20% reported that their partner had tried to get them pregnant when they did not want to or tried to stop them from using birth control. About 23% reported their partner refused to use a condom.
  • Women raped by an intimate partner who reported RRP were significantly more likely to have experienced reproductive coercion compared to women who were raped by an intimate partner but did not become pregnant.
Rape-related pregnancy (RRP) is a public health problem where sexual violence

Rape is a type of sexual violence (SV) and is defined as forced or alcohol/drug-facilitated anal, oral, or vaginal penetration.

Rape-related pregnancy (RRP) includes pregnancy that a rape victim attributed to rape.

Reproductive coercion is a form of intimate partner violence (IPV) that involves exerting power and control over reproduction through interference with contraception use and pregnancy pressure.

These data come from the first study in over 20 years to offer a nationally representative prevalence estimate of RRP of U.S. women by any perpetrator and the first ever to provide these estimates by race and ethnicity. The findings add to the understanding of the relationship between SV and intimate partner violence (IPV) and reproductive health among U.S. women.

CDC’s Efforts to Prevent Sexual Violence and Intimate Partner Violence

30%26#37; experienced a form of reproductive coercion by the same partner

CDC focuses on preventing violence before it starts. CDC’s Resources for Action, formerly known as, “technical packages,” detail the best available evidence for preventing rape and other types of SV and IPV. These resources for action also contain strategies to help states and communities support survivors and lessen the short- and long-term harms of violence.

Primary prevention efforts that help young men develop healthy intimate relationships and a positive sense of masculinity may be essential to reducing rape and IPV (including reproductive coercion) as well as negative reproductive health outcomes.

Additionally, the inclusion of services for sexual and reproductive health with SV and IPV services can help ensure comprehensive care is available for survivors.

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  1. Basile, K.C., Smith, S.G., Liu, y., Kresnow, M., Fasula, A.M., Gilbert, L., Chen, J. (2018). Rape-related pregnancy and association with reproductive coercion in the U.S. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 55(6), 770-776 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2018.07.028