AAFP Statement: Evidence-based Medical Care Is Critical for Rape Victims

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Statement attributable to:
Glen Stream, MD, MBI
American Academy of Family Physicians

“Recent remarks by a Member of Congress diminish the tremendous physical and social impacts of these vicious crimes and distract from the importance of victims receiving appropriate medical care.

“It is estimated that more than 300,000 women are raped each year and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that approximately 32,000 pregnancies per year occur as a result of rape. These statistics strongly contradict the statement by Rep. Todd Akin that “women who are victims of ‘legitimate rape’ rarely get pregnant.” There is no biological truth to the statement, “if it is a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to shut that whole thing down.”

“Unfortunately, only 36 percent of rape victims report having received medical treatment. The American Academy of Family Physicians urges its doctors to be aware of the prevalence of sexual violence in their communities and to be alert for its effects in their patients.

“The AAFP urges government at all levels to assure rape victims have immediate access to services such as emergency contraception, counseling to decrease posttraumatic stress disorder and appropriate treatment of sexually transmitted diseases. And the AAFP reminds lawmakers that health care should be guided by rigorous scientific evidence.”

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Founded in 1947, the American Academy of Family Physicians represents 136,700 physicians and medical students nationwide, and it is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Family physicians conduct approximately one in five of the total medical office visits in the United States per year – more than any other specialty. Family physicians provide comprehensive, evidence-based, and cost-effective care dedicated to improving the health of patients, families and communities. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing and personal patient-physician relationship where the family physician serves as the hub of each patient’s integrated care team. More Americans depend on family physicians than on any other medical specialty.

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