PRCH Physicians on Sexual Assault and Bad Science
August 27, 2012
PRCH physicians are outraged at the statements made by Missouri Rep. Todd Akin, who claimed that women rarely became pregnant in cases of "legitimate rape." Board chair-elect Nancy Stanwood, MD, MPH (left), and consulting medical director Anne Davis, MD, MPH (right), spoke out in defense of science, their patients, and sexual assault survivors everywhere. Dr. Stanwood said, "After practicing for 17 years, I have too many tragic stories to share—girls, young women, mothers—all victims of heinous crimes." Dr. Davis remarked: "It is unimaginable and offensive that anyone would hold so little regard for medicine, science, or these women's individual stories." Read the press release here.
In the New York Daily News, PRCH board chair Douglas Laube MD, MEd called the assertion that women's bodies can block fertilization after rape "an illogical, misogynistic stretch of the truth." Read the rest of the article here. Dr. Laube also derided the bad science behind the statement in an interview with the Wall Street Journal: "Women don't shut down." Read the article here.
Dr. Nancy Stanwood spoke to Reuters about anti-abortion activist Dr. John C. Willke, whose medically invalid theories have informed statements made by Rep. Akin and others: "...[S]ome of his claims have gained traction. A congressman can claim he is quoting a doctor and it can impact public policy." Read the rest of the article here.
Leadership Training Academy Fellow Kathleen Morrell, MD, spoke to CBS 2 News in New York about the medical inaccuracy of Rep. Akin's statement. Dr. Morrell noted that the idea that women who are victims of sexual assault don't become pregnant is "100 percent false, not based on any medical fact whatsoever." Watch the news report here.
PRCH physician David Grimes, MD, appeared on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 to dismiss the spurious theory that women can't get pregnant from rape as "utter hogwash," saying that such beliefs are "part of the broad theme here of misogyny.... It's cruel beyond words." Watch the interview here.
Dr. Grimes and another PRCH physician, Michael Greene, MD, also spoke to the New York Times about the bad science behind the claims made by anti-choice physician Dr. John Willke, cited by Rep. Akin. Both Dr. Grimes and Dr. Greene dismissed Dr. Wilke's theories, Dr. Greene noting, "I’m not aware of any data" to support the argument. Read the article here.
Leadership Training Academy Fellow Carrie Frederick, MD, MPH, published a letter in the Oregonian (Portland, OR), explaining the important role that emergency contraception can play in preventing pregnancy after rape, adding: "I hope that the outrage over Akin's unfortunate statements will lead to productive strategies to expand access to emergency contraception so we may compassionately help victims of rape avoid unintended pregnancy." Read Dr. Frederick's letter here (hers is last on the page).
In a letter published in the Los Angeles Times, former Leadership Training Academy Fellow Rachel Steward, MD, MSc, pointed readers to a study from the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology that found "national rape-related pregnancy rate is 5 percent among victims of reproductive age.... consistent with the same rate for pregnancy in non-rape victims." Dr. Steward's letter is the second from the bottom.
Leadership Training Academy Fellow Tracey Wilkinson, MD, MPH, published an essay on RH Reality Check about how medically inaccurate statements made by public officials can result in barriers to health care: "Knowing how misinformation has greatly affected access to emergency contraception years after the FDA has approved it, one has to wonder what new barriers have been created for rape survivors." Read the rest of her essay here.
Help us recognize Eve Espey, MD, MPH, and Willie Parker, MD, MPH, MSc, at the 2013 Rashbaum-Tiller Abortion Provider Awards.
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The documentary Voices of Choice features physicians and advocates who witnessed women's suffering before Roe v. Wade. They helped as many women as they could obtain safe abortions.
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