Celeste Greig Fired Over Rape Comments

Celeste Greig
A hoard of angry abortion supporters—one wonders if there are other kinds—succeeded in removing Celeste Greig from her post as president of the state’s Republican Assembly. Greig’s thought crime? In March she said:

The percentage of pregnancies due to rape is small because it’s an act of violence, because the body is traumatized.

I wrote about this earlier in A New Row Over Pregnancy Caused by Rape at Crisis Magazine.

The spectacle of folk who ran screaming in horror from Greig resembled residents of Tokyo fleeing Godzilla. No, strike that. Godzilla is scary and should be fled (fleed?). It’s more accurate to say that the politicians who shunned Greig were like kindergartners shrieking over the belief one of their classmates had cooties.

The San Jose Mercury News reports that Aaron Park, a prominent California Republican, called Greig’s comments “embarrassing.” This flak worried that the party—The party is mother, The party is father—would suffer were it known to consort with Grieg: “You cannot put faith in someone who’s talking about the virtue of saving babies but looks like they don’t care about women who are sexually assaulted.”

That this apparatchik thought his non sequitur applicable reveals what everybody already knows: that (most) politicians care more about attaining and maintaining power than in speaking truth.

What comes of examining Greig’s comment dispassionately? Is it true or false that “The percentage of pregnancies due to rape is small because it’s an act of violence, because the body is traumatized”?

The best answer is that nobody knows, not for certain or with anything approaching certainty, whether pregnancy rates are higher, lower, or identical in women who are raped and in those who were not. There are plenty of theories, conjectures, and surmises about the subject, but little concrete knowledge. There has been no systematic or convincing collection of data and therefore no definitive study (see link above for more detail).

And then it doesn’t sound “outrageous” to suggest that a body undergoing trauma will not operate as efficiently as a body swimming in more placid waters. Surely it isn’t beyond the realm of reasonable possibility to suggest that, ceteris paribus, a woman purposely aiming for motherhood has a greater chance to conceive than a woman who was brutalized. Greig’s only real error lay in asserting this most plausible supposition was a certainty.

“Insensitive!” said the activists, a group to whom any trace of any whisper of any glimmer of any hint that abortion is morally wrong is met with squalls, squeals, spit, and specious squabbling. Unless the subject is the emotional state of a person, the charge of insensitivity is always a fallacy. I ask you to draw the obvious inference about the class of people who so eagerly and so often embrace it.

Suppose, arguendo, that the rate of conception for raped woman was higher than for similar women who were purposely trying to conceive (or where not “purposely”, but in those who took no steps to prevent conception; see the link). That is, assume Greig’s comment is false. Now what?

Does it follow that rape is therefore morally acceptable? Surely not, and only a mind deranged by passion would claim anybody would make such an inference (see the commentors at this page for examples).

Maybe it follows that abortion should more accessible if rape-conception rates were higher? Well, no. If a woman conceived other than by rape, it cannot matter to her about her abortion whether some other woman was raped. She would still have to decide whether her abortion was morally acceptable or not.

But what about a woman who was raped contemplating abortion? Again, it does not follow that because other women were raped and conceived that therefore her abortion is morally acceptable. If abortion is allowable in cases of rape-conception, it does not matter how many rape-influenced abortions there are. If abortion is morally wrong in cases rape-conception, then hers is morally wrong too, even if the rape-conception rate is high.

Logically speaking, then, and granting the wholesale slaughter of reason so common on moral questions, why the flap? Because many people find abortion agreeable in cases of rape-conception, but far fewer folk find abortion acceptable for the sake of convenience (which are the vast majority of abortions). Abortion cheerleaders worry that if rape-conception rates were low, the populace might ban abortions altogether. And that is anathema to them.


  1. Rich

    The percentage of pregnancies due to rape is small because rape is a tiny fraction of all sexual acts. Is that me sunk as far as Congress goes? (Apart from being British that is).

    Really, more context is needed and I couldn’t find it. Nobody makes that kind of remark out of the blue. It was meant to imply something but what?

  2. MattS


    How do you tell if a politician is lying? It’s* lips are moving.

    Who cares what it was meant to imply.

    *It is the only not gendered singular pronoun available in the English language. Get over it or stop complaining when people pick one specific gender to use when gender is unknown.

  3. Alex

    In the UK a teenager who had been taking care of the town’s war memorial f=since he was six was indicted because he ‘tampered’ witht he water supply that fed the flowers around the memorial. The arrest was carried out after instigation by the local council.

    In the US military, the >Don’t ask, don’t tell< was deleted, meaning that a homosexual soldier can ask another soldier if he is gay, butif a Christian soldier asks another about his faith, he will be court martialled.

    These two instances of political madness, aka political correctness, are just the tip of the tip of the iceberg.

    Madness unlimited.

  4. Sander van der Wal

    Why would a political party be worried about the opinions of their political adversaries? Generally, they are not. Unless the party is trying to woo voters from the other camps, or camp, for two-party states.

    It seems to me that is what was happening here. Greig was supposed to bring in some lf the Democratic voters being unhappy with current abortion practices. And she failed, because she choose the wrong wording. So she was fired. Such things happen all the time in politics. Let her lie low for a bit and she will get a reasonably nice job as compensation.

    Or is politics in the USA structured in such a way that all parties spit out failed politicians completely and really dump them?

  5. MattS

    Sander van der Wal,

    For one, the US does not operate on a parliamentary system. Legislative seats “belong” to the individuals who hold them. Political parties can not fire sitting legislators. At most, the party officials can refuse to support them at the next election.

    US political parties also can not really prevent candidates they don’t like from running under their name. Again, the most the national party organization can do against a candidate they don’t like that signs up for the primary election is refuse to support them.

    Yes, I know that is silly, but it is a consequence of the US’s hybrid primary system.

  6. tombei the mist

    > MattS on 7 May 2013 at 12:26 pm said:
    > How do you tell if a politician is lying? It’s* lips are moving.

    >*It is the only not gendered singular pronoun available in the
    >English > language. Get over it or stop complaining when people pick
    >one specific > gender to use when gender is unknown.

    However, you are not talking about a specific individual politician. You are positing an hypothesis that can only be tested by repeated random sampling, which implies a group of subjects, a plural! Now in the past this never jarred because all the politicians could assuredly be assumed male, but in these enlightened times with religious shackles gloriously thrown off us, we can not do so. Switching personal pronouns, sometimes from paragraph to paragraph is no solution either. So therefore we have no choice but to use the grammatically correct plural form “if their lips are moving”.

    >Who cares what it was meant to imply.

    Obviously the person who spoke those words.

  7. MattS

    “However, you are not talking about a specific individual politician.”

    True, I am talking about a unspecified individual politician. Plural form is NOT correct.

  8. Sylvain Allard

    “The best answer is that nobody knows, not for certain or with anything approaching certainty, whether pregnancy rates are higher, lower, or identical in women who are raped and in those who were not.”

    I would tend to agree with this.

    I really don’t see why pregnancies would occur more or less often in cases of rapes. There is nothing physiologically different between a penetration by rape or by desire.

    The desire or not to have children seems to have little impact on the capacity of a woman to actually get pregnant. Some couple will try to get pregnant for years and won’t and other woman will get pregnant without penetration, which is admittedly rare but does happen.

    Rape is a lot more frequent than people want to believe. Non-consensual penetration happens frequently and the vast majority of rapes are done by male that have close relationship with the woman (friends, family members or husband).

  9. MattS

    Sylvain Allard

    “There is nothing physiologically different between a penetration by rape or by desire.”

    Conception is complicated. From what I have read, even things as simple and minor as pH and other chemical balances in both the woman’s and the man’s body can affect the probability of conception.

    Emotional states can certainly affect (and be affected by) chemical balances in the body. And the emotional states in rape vs consensual sex are certainly very different.

    How this affects the probability of conception is complicated and is likely impossible to predict or determine in a reliable manner, but it seems unlikely that it would have no impact at all.

  10. JH

    Greig’s only real error lay in asserting this most plausible supposition was a certainty.

    Most plausible supposition! Why is it most plausible? Is it because people believe that a sudden trauma can cause a woman to abruptly stop ovulating, even though a woman’s body has been prepared and is ready to ovulate within a week (assuming men’s sperm can survive 7 days in a female body) of the trauma? Hmmm… if so, what hormone or whatever mechanism could possibly have such power, which is much more than “not operate as efficiently”? Nobody knows, I guess.

    Welll, Greig’s assertion is not as bad as Akin’s. Just think of the contrapositive of their statements!

  11. Briggs


    My fault. There are at least two shades of meaning to most. One, which I did not intend, is as the topmost in some list. The other is as a soft synonym to very, as in, “I had a most enjoyable evening.” Greig’s proposition is “very” plausible.

  12. JH

    Mr. Briggs, I understood you just fine, thank you. So I was asking you why it is “very” plausible. I’ve heard from a doctor that long term stress can affect fertility, but it seems a bit far-fetched to me that a “scheduled” ovulation would stop due to a sudden stress.

  13. Briggs


    Certainly severe stress can affect ovulation. And it is plausible that, given ovulation has occurred, that trauma can affect conception.

    As for the former, Google Scholar to the rescue:

    “Stress Induced Delay of Ovulation” (link) for just one of many. I used the term “stress ovulation”.

    Also try “trauma ovulation”. Lot of candidate papers there.

  14. mathman

    Poor comparison.
    Better to compare this kerfuffle to the women who fled in abject terror when Pres Summers announced that there appears to be a sex-linked difference in scientific professorships.
    Many women developed the ‘vapors’ when hearing this pronouncement.
    Same phenomenon. Same cause. Take offense when you hear something which conflicts with your notion of political correctness.
    Facts? Don’t bother with facts. It’s how you FEEEEL that matters.

  15. Sylvain Allard


    The government in Québec has recently started to cover in vitro fertilization (2 attempts) for couples who wanted to get pregnant but were unable. It turned out that they were much more numerous than the government had first anticipated. About 10,000 couples are considered infertile in a population of about 8 millions.

    The point is that the desire or not to have children is not correlated with actually getting pregnant.

  16. JH


    From the link you’ve provided,

    For a period of 7-10 days around the expected time of ovulatinn, these women were hospitalized and blood samples were obtained…

    The study result cannot be generalized to raped victims who aren’t hospitalized 7-10 days around the expected time of ovulation. Any study on women who are less than a week from ovulation?

    Let me counteroffer you a study published in Human Naturehttp://melissadunphy.com/10841958.pdf
    “Our analysis suggests that per-incident rape-pregnancy rates exceed per-incident consensual pregnancy rates by a sizable margin…
    (Google is wonderful. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”)

    Whom to believe? I don’t know. Well, it’s not relevant to the debate of abortion anyway.

  17. Briggs


    “Well, it’s not relevant to the debate of abortion anyway.” Yes! That’s it! The whole point of the post is to prove that whatever percentage of rapes end in conception, it is not relevant to abortion. So why, then, are so many people so “outraged” (see the Huffington Post link, where the sanest comment is apoplectic)?

  18. Sylvain Allard

    If it is not relevant then why do anti-abortionist keep putting their foot in their mouth taking about this.

  19. Briggs


    The point is that she did not. She uttered a plausible proposition and the abortion-at-all-costs group went batty.

  20. Sylvain Allard

    Mr Briggs,

    “The percentage of pregnancies due to rape is small because it’s an act of violence, because the body is traumatized.”

    In this comment she talks about rape and pregnancies. This comment is very similar to those uttered by Akin and Maurdock during the 2012 election.

    As it has been discussed here there is no way to know if pregnancies are more, less or as propbable in case of rape.

    We know though, with the number of couple who try to get pregnant and fail, that the desire or not to want to get pregnant does not correlate with the ability to get pregnant.

    The comment by Maurdoch about god intent. If it is god intent that a woman get pregnant during a rape, then what is his intent when a woman who want desperately to have a child has a miscarriage?

    Why is his intent only toward the child and not the woman, placing her in face of a dilemma?

    Why in a plane crash surviving passenger are blessed by god but not the dead? Why kill some and save some when he could have save them all?

    Maybe it is because god as little to do with life and that he has no intent other than placing us in certain situation so we can learn from them.

  21. Sylvain Allard

    Also, I don’t know any woman who “yeah, I’m getting aborted” and no one claim that everyone should abort. They just claim that woman should have the choice of when they do want to get pregnant (i.e.:when they have a man that don’t run away at the mention of the word baby, or when they feel more secure financially, etc)

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