State-Level Analysis of Intimate Partner Violence, Abortion Access, and Peripartum Homicide: Call for Screening and Violence Interventions for Pregnant Patients

Grace Keegan, Mark Hoofnagle, Julie Chor, David Hampton, Jennifer Cone, Abid Khan, Susan Rowell, Timothy Plackett, Andrew Benjamin, Neha Bhardwaj, Selwyn O. Rogers, Tanya L. Zakrison, Justin M. Cirone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Despite representing 4% of the global population, the US has the fifth highest number of intentional homicides in the world. Peripartum people represent a unique and vulnerable subset of homicide victims. This study aimed to understand the risk factors for peripartum homicide. STUDY DESIGN: We used data from the 2018 to 2020 National Violent Death Reporting System to compare homicide rates of peripartum and nonperipartum people capable of becoming pregnant (12 to 50 years of age). Peripartum was defined as currently pregnant or within 1-year postpartum. We additionally compared state-level peripartum homicide rates between states categorized as restrictive, neutral, or protective of abortion. Pearson's chi-square and Wilcoxon rank-sum tests were used. RESULTS: There were 496 peripartum compared with 8,644 nonperipartum homicide victims. The peripartum group was younger (27.4 ± 71 vs 33.0 ± 9.6, p < 0.001). Intimate partner violence causing the homicide was more common in the peripartum group (39.9% vs 26.4%, p < 0.001). Firearms were used in 63.4% of homicides among the peripartum group compared with 49.5% in the comparison (p < 0.001). A significant difference was observed in peripartum homicide between states based on policies regarding abortion access (protective 0.37, neutral 0.45, restrictive 0.64; p < 0.01); the same trend was not seen with male homicides. CONCLUSIONS: Compared with nonperipartum peers, peripartum people are at increased risk for homicide due to intimate partner violence, specifically due to firearm violence. Increasing rates of peripartum homicide occur in states with policies that are restrictive to abortion access. There is a dire need for universal screening and interventions for peripartum patients. Research and policies to reduce violence against pregnant people must also consider the important role that abortion access plays in protecting safety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)880-888
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American College of Surgeons
Volume238
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2024

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