The New York Times had a recent article about 18 year-old Jeffrey Knox, a college football player who was arrested for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend after she informed him that she was pregnant. He allegedly cursed, slapped and choked her the night before in front of a university dormitory. Fortunately the young woman lived. There are many pregnant women who don’t.The gruesome 1968 murder of actress Sharon Tate two weeks before her due date was a prelude of things to come and it was the unsettling death of Laci Peterson that pushed the plight of murdered pregnant women into the spotlight.

Laci Peterson disappeared on Christmas Eve in 2002 and her husband, Scott, was later convicted of murder in the first degree after her mutilated body was washed to shore along with her infant son eight months after her disappearance. After Laci’s death The Washington Post reported that 1,367 pregnant women were murdered from 1990 to 2004.  These numbers only reflect a small portion of murdered pregnant women because there is no mechanism in place to track these statistics.

Studies show that physical abuse occurs in 7 to 20 percent of pregnant women, sometimes leading to death from homicide. Women with an unplanned pregnancy have a 3-fold higher risk of physical abuse than planned pregnancies. African American pregnant teens are at risk for being victims of homicide and pregnant women between the ages of 15 to 24 are three times more likely to die from homicide than their older counterparts.  Laci Peterson, Jessie Davis, LaToyia Figueroa, Belinda Temple and Cherica Adams all belonged to a sisterhood of women whose men never wanted their babies.  Some of these babies were rescued from the wombs of their dying mothers; others were buried in their dead mothers’ arms.  Pregnant women who

1.       are involved in a relationship with a married man

2.       have a partner who insists on an abortion

3.       have partners who are adamantly opposed to providing child support

4.       have a jealous ex-husband or partner who’s upset about the pregnancy

5.       have a partner who adamantly denies paternity

6.       have partners who are verbally or physically abusive

7.       have partners who are controlling

are at risk for significant harm. If you feel threatened, please obtain a Court Order of Protection and never meet your partner alone. Make friends or family members aware of your concerns and become familiar with domestic violence agencies.

Having a baby shouldn’t turn into a deadly affair.