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Friday, December 15th 2006

Good Luck Kid

The Duke lacrosse rape victim has given birth. And the defense attorneys for the three accused want paternity tests.

What this probably indicates is that the woman got pregnant very soon after the accused rape. I’m not so sure that boads well for her character or the trial.

Medical records included in a defense motion filed Thursday were not made public, but Cheshire said the woman was given a pregnancy test immediately after reporting she was raped — and it was negative — and she took an emergency contraceptive.

“The possibility of her having gotten pregnant [from] these alleged incidents is an impossibility … an absolute impossibility,” Cheshire said.

Cheshire spoke shortly before a previously scheduled hearing in the case.

It isn’t clear what the accuser was given, since obviously her medical records are a private (or in this case, semi-private) matter, but impossibility is probably an exaggeration. Turns out it is difficult to judge the effectiveness of emergency contraception because obviously you cannot put it in a blind trial – “you get the placebo and you get the real thing.”

Instead they try to look at pregnancy rates (say based on a number of women at similiar points in their menstrual cycle) and then look at women who used various EC methods who had unprotected sex at the same time in their menstrual cycles. And they try to compare newer methods (say, Plan B) to older methods (say, the Yuzpe regimine). From Plan B website (via Wikipedia):

After a single act of intercourse, the expected pregnancy rate of 8% (with no contraception), was reduced to approximately 1% with Plan B. Thus, Plan B reduced the expected number of pregnancies by 89%.

And again, we don’t know the efficacy of the regimen given to the accuser after the party. But even without that knowledge, calling impregnation by one of the accused (if the rape actually occurred) an impossibility is probably overstating the unlikelihood (although it is extremely unlikely).