Body count

Media criticism.
Dec. 24 2004 5:17 PM

Body Count

Doing the math on the Washington Post's momicide series.

(Continued from Page 1)

If you ordered that body armor, keep the receipt.

The Back-of-the-Envelope Calculations
The authors of the JAMA study, Isabelle L. Horon and Diana Cheng, recoil from the question of whether the homicide rate is higher among pregnantand postpartum women than others because of the "complexities" of figuring the number of pregnant women in the general population.


I am not so daunted.

The National Center for Health Statistics recorded approximately 4.04 million live births in 2000 for women between 14 and 44, so all of these women were pregnant during 2000. Approximately 1 million women between the ages 14 and 44 who were pregnant in 2000 didn't give birth until the first three months of 2001. This brings my total to 5.04 million pregnant women in 2000.

(My count is incredibly conservative because I don't include the 1 million fetal losses in 2000—miscarriages from eight weeks forward—or the 1.3 million abortions estimated by the center. Some of these women could have aborted, miscarried, and given birth—or any combination of two—in the same year and ended up being counted a couple of times. For the purposes of streamlining my argument, I deliberately ignored the minuscule number of women who had two successful pregnancies in 15 months in 2000.)

Based on Census Bureau figures, I estimate that there were about 52.3 million women between the ages of 14 and 44 in the U.S. in 2000. So, in the year 2000, 9.6 percent (5.04 million divided by 52.3 million) of all women between the ages of 14 and 44 were pregnant and produced a live birth.

Jack Shafer was Slate's editor at large. You can follow him on Twitter or email him at



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