Houston Chronicle uses very questionable pro-abortion rape statistics


Abortion activists masquerading as researchers have notched a win in Texas’s debate concerning the protection of life with an article titled “More than 26K rape-related pregnancies estimated after Texas outlawed abortions, new study says.” The debate around abortion, quite possibly the most morally difficult topic in American life, deserves far better than what appears to be astroturfing for abortionists.

The Houston Chronicle reports with an astonishing lack of skepticism:

Texas saw an estimated 26,313 rape-related pregnancies during the 16 months after the state outlawed all abortions, with no exceptions for survivors of rape or incest, according to a study published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

That’s the highest estimate among the 14 states with total abortion bans, with Texas having the largest population, according to the study. The figure helps put the magnitude of the state’s laws into perspective, especially for those who can’t access abortion pills or travel out of state to receive abortion care, said one of the authors, Dr. Kari White of the Texas-based Resound Research for Reproductive Health.

Those estimates “are only going to increase while this total abortion ban is in effect,” White told the Chronicle. “And this really is impacting the people who have survived this experience in really profound ways.”

First, the study referenced by the Chronicle has the following conflict disclosures (which the article’s author fails to share):

Dr Dickman reported that he is a plaintiff in several lawsuits challenging abortion restrictions in Montana. Dr White reported personal fees from the Society of Family Planning Stipend as well as grants from the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, Collaborative for Gender and Reproductive Equity, and Jacob and Terese Hershey Foundation during the conduct of the study. Dr Lupez reported grants from National Research Service Award T32HP32715 during the conduct of the study. No other disclosures were reported.

Activists. Compensated activists at that.

Second, the statistics used in the study are hypothetical. Rather than use reported rape statistics from Texas, the researchers opted to:

Because to our knowledge no recent reliable state-level data on completed vaginal rapes (forced and/or drug/alcohol–facilitated vaginal penetration) are available, we analyzed multiple data sources to estimate reported and unreported rapes in states with total abortion bans (Table 15). We also estimated the number of resulting pregnancies based on findings from prior research on rape-related pregnancy rates (eMethods in Supplement 1). This study followed the relevant sections of the Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) reporting guideline. The institutional review boards of our institutions did not consider analyses of publicly available data human participants research.

To estimate the contemporary incidence of vaginal rape nationally, we analyzed the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) 2016 to 2017 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence survey (which used special methods to accurately ascertain reported and unreported rapes). We adjusted for the fraction of survivors who were female individuals aged 15 to 45 years using data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ (BJS) annual survey on criminal victimization (which is known to underestimate rapes5)3 and further adjusted for the percentage of rapes that are vaginal.1 We calculated 95% CIs using measures of uncertainty from the CDC survey. The CDC and BJS surveys do not include state-level data; thus, we apportioned the 2022 nationwide rape estimate among states based on the US Federal Bureau of Investigation’s most recent Uniform Crime Reports, which include rapes reported to law enforcement in 2019.

To estimate rape-related pregnancies, we multiplied the state-level estimate of vaginal rapes by the fraction likely to result in pregnancy (eMethods in Supplement 1)6 and then adjusted for the number of months between July 1, 2022, and January 1, 2024, that a total abortion ban was in effect. We used Stata, version 16.1 (StataCorp), to analyze the BJS survey data and Microsoft Excel for other calculations.

To summarize, rather than look at the reported rapes in Texas (16,510), the researchers opted for conjecture: They expanded the definition of rape, used six-year-old self-reported national surveys to rack up a huge figure of hypothetical rapes (519,981), and then divided that figure per capita, by the length that pro-life laws were in effect, and finally assumed that every eighth vaginal rape of a woman between the age of 15–45 results in conception. Twenty-six thousand Texan babies were born of rape, the researchers suppose.

These are very questionable numbers at best. Allow me some back-of-the-napkin math. Operating from a known — the reported rapes in Texas in 2022 — if we accept the researchers’ assertion that only 20 percent of rapes are reported, and further accept that every rape in Texas was of a woman in the given age range and capable of conceiving, we get a total of 78,619 babies in a year.

Multiply the annual total by 1.5 to acknowledge the full 18 months since Dobbs (two more months than they figure for), and we get 117,929 babies. Take that number and apply the researchers’ conception rate of 12.5 percent and we get 14,741 babies conceived of rape since Dobbs. This is the highest-possible figure possible with the information given, and the researchers have the gall to claim another 12,000 babies beyond.

The fact that the American Medical Association would publish this study, and that the Houston Chronicle would regurgitate it, is an outrage. Despite it’s utter lack of merit, however, the headline will make the rounds on local news, TikTok, and the digital newsstand, which was the point. Shameful stuff.

Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher (aka HP Pundit) is not a Democrat or Republican. He is a free thinking independent bringing you news and commentary with a dose of much needed common sense.

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