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Violence As A Means Of Miscarriage

In less than six months after I wrote “Seven Reasons Why Pregnancy Becomes a Deadly Affair,” the public outrage is faint and inaudible regarding domestic violence committed against pregnant women. The subject therefore needs to be revisited again.

On a college campus less than 90 minutes away from my home, a 17-year-old woman was kicked and punched in her abdomen for no apparent reason other than that she carried life within her womb. The alleged father of her baby, Devin Nickels, a college student at Florida State University (FSU), was apparently not happy about his new prospective role. He purportedly contacted a high school buddy, Andres Luis Marrero, who now attended the University of Tampa, and asked him to beat his girlfriend until she had a miscarriage for $200.00. Marrero, instead, offered to assault the girl for free.

According to the University of Tampa’s newspaper, The Minaret, Nickels drove his girlfriend to a secluded wooded area near an apartment complex and Marrero allegedly assaulted her despite her pleas that she was pregnant. The woman was treated at a local hospital and her pregnancy was still viable. Hours later, Marrero allegedly wrote about the attack on his Facebook wall describing it as “fun.” He was subsequently arrested for armed kidnapping and aggravated assault on a pregnant woman. His father made a statement that his son was an “outstanding kid all his life” and he had no idea “where this was coming from.” Nickels was also arrested on the FSU campus.

Unfortunately these travesties continue. The Oakland Press reported the story of a 17-year-old Ypsilanti, Michigan high schooler who allegedly stabbed a classmate (with whom he’d had sex) in the back of the head 12 times because she told him she “might be pregnant.” She ultimately had surgery that resulted in an intensive care unit admission. The classmate lived because she “played dead.”

A few facts are in order for those misguided individuals who look at violence as a means of ending a pregnancy. According to a medical study, violence does not influence pregnancy loss. A 45-year-old pregnant woman has an 80 percent chance of having a miscarriage. A 17-year-old girl, despite being kicked in the stomach, does not.

One of the consequences of having sex is procreation. According to the CDC, 49 percent of all pregnancies in this country are unplanned. Teens need to be aware of the fact that if they have sex there is a near 50 percent chance that they’ll become pregnant, and if their partner isn’t happy about it, they’re at a greater risk of experiencing domestic violence, even to the point of death.

Violence against pregnant women is becoming unparalleled in its viciousness. How many dead mothers-to-be will it take before we start doing something about it?

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Linda Burke-Galloway*

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One Response to “Violence As A Means Of Miscarriage”

  1. Ben says:

    This post strikes me as a little melodramatic. In a country of 300,000,000 people the most surprising thing I found reading this post and the original “7 Reasons” post was how few high profile cases there seems to be and that the number of pregnant women murdered (“1,367 pregnant women were murdered from 1990 to 2004”) is not particularly shocking when one considers that there were around 252,000 murders in the US during that time period. Around 1/4 of murder victims are women, and the average woman spends around 2.4% of her life in pregnancy, so assuming that the state of pregnancy had nothing to do with any murders we’d expect:

    252,000 (total murders) x .25 (proportion female) x .024 (chance of pregnancy) = 1512 murders of women who happened to be pregnant

    And this does not even take into account the fact that demographically (a) US populations with higher birthrates have higher murder rates for all their members; and (b) most murders occur in 15-35 year-olds: the same population that has the highest pregnancy rates. In other words, we expect that the number of pregnant women murdered would be higher than even this number because of OTHER demographic factors, unrelated to pregnancy.

    I also find several of the points in the original posting on who is “at risk for significant harm” to be misleading rhetoric.

    I’m in no way trying to imply that the murder of pregnant women should be in any way trivialize – it is clearly a profoundly (if not the most) heinous crime – but we also shouldn’t fly into hysterics and conclude that there is some sort of pregnant-woman-murder-epidemic going on. No doubt that there are some women who will be killed as a result of their pregnancy – just as there are some people who will be killed for wearing Nike shoes – but these are the acts of psycho/sociopaths and not indicative of any broader trends.

    If you have numbers that show that the murder rate among pregnant women have risen in a statistically significant way compared to the general rate (or that, controlling for other demographic factors, the rate is higher than you’d expect vs chance), I’d be very interested and it would be a service to publish that data. But I suspect that this is yet another example of attention-generating fear-mongering that the media (bloggers included) needs to start reigning in.

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