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.”

# # #

Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 129,000 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Family physicians conduct approximately one in five office visits -- that’s 192 million visits annually or 48 percent more than the next most visited medical specialty. Today, family physicians provide more care for America’s underserved and rural populations than any other medical specialty. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care.

To learn more about the specialty of family medicine, the AAFP's positions on issues and clinical care, and for downloadable multi-media highlighting family medicine, visit
www.aafp.org/media. For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, please visit the AAFP’s award-winning consumer website, www.familydoctor.org(www.familydoctor.org).