In January 2024, the Supreme Court allowed Idaho to enforce its strict abortion ban, even in medical emergencies. It is now legal for hospitals in Idaho to allow women to die of severe bleeding, preeclampsia, and pregnancy-related infections in which abortion care is the necessary treatment. But, it gets even worse.
The Journal of the American Medical Association just released a report on pregnancies caused by rape since the fall of Roe in states that have banned abortion. In the report, it is estimated that 11, 565 rapes happened in Idaho since the abortion ban, and 1,436 pregnancies were the result.
I am sick, friends. I am tired. I am overwhelmed by the cruelty aimed at women and girls.
I don’t know any women my age who have not at least been a victim of unwanted touching. I don’t know many who haven’t had to forcefully tell a man to stop, or leave a party, or phone a friend to save them from a bad night and a bad guy. And, I know so, so many who have been raped.
And, here’s the weird part of this conversation—how do I know so many survivors, but the men in my life don’t know any rapists? We know…because women and girls don’t often report the crime. And, when we do, well you know how it goes in most instances.
I have a very close relative who was raped. I drove her to the ER myself. I waited and watched. I saw the tests and the shame and the pain and the police. The questions. The questions. The questions.
Her rapist was picked up and spent the night in jail. He bonded out the next morning and then, guess what? He said it was consensual. He said she wanted it. The police? Well, they said it was her word against his.
He got a lawyer and she couldn’t afford one. And that was that. That was it. The prosecutor said “he lawyered up” and I guess in some strange world, that means it’s over. You can be savagely attacked, but if your rapist gets a lawyer, the world keeps moving and you’ll not hear another word. And, in a small town, you’ll get to see him at the grocery store every few weeks.
She went on with her life. And so did a minor relative of mine. And so did my middle school friend. And so did my high school friends. And so did my friends in college. And so did my newly-divorced friend when she went out with a man from a dating app. And so did so many others.
Now to the unthinkable—abortion bans.
When I read a report released by the Journal of American Medical Association, I lost my breath. I lost my train of thought. I lost myself to the seething rage about what has happened to women and girls in states that have banned abortion—they’ve been forced to deliver the pregnancies of these rapes.
Idaho law allows rapists to choose the mother of their child.
Not only did JAMA estimate that over 11,000 rapes had occurred in Idaho since the abortion ban went into effect, but over 1,400 pregnancies were the result of rape. These women and girls had no access to abortion under Idaho’s ban.
Rape victims in Idaho have no choice but to bear the pregnancies if they can’t get out of the state. To bear the shame and the questions. To bear the consequences of a violent attack. To figure out life post-rape…a life that is likely disrupted and sometimes shattered.
Let’s call the current anti-abortion stance what it is: no access to abortion after rape is state-sanctioned rape and state-mandated pregnancy.
I’m just so angry, friends.
Jess Piper is a rural activist from Missouri. She is the Executive Director for Blue Missouri and lives on a small farm with her family, two dogs, and miniature donkey.