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

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  • Alternative Title:
    Am J Prev Med
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    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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