In recent years, the high profile murder cases of Laci Peterson and Lori Hacking in the United States has brought to light an growing threat to pregnant women—murder. According to a March 2001 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) using death records and coroner reports, state health department researchers found 247 pregnancy-associated deaths between 1993 and 1998, suggesting that the maternal murder phenomenon is the leading cause of death among pregnant women.
Pregnancy should be a time of great joy between a couple, so why are all those women getting murdered by their partners? According to Dr. Diana Cheng, director of women’s health at the Maryland Department of Health and Medical Hygiene and her colleague Dr. Isabelle Horon, “Women tend to think pregnancy is a safety zone, especially if they are already in an abusive relationship, but what we’re seeing is that no woman is safe from domestic violence or its most severe consequences.” Unfortunately, most women who are in abusive relationships are physically assaulted by their partners even during pregnancy. Sometimes, this violence can result in injury for both the mother and child, miscarriage or death. The more alarming thing is that while the male partners of these pregnant women are often the chief suspects in the murder, it can be hard for the police to prove the fact and these men can go free to go on and abuse other women.
Why then would a woman stay in an abusive relationship? Unfortunately, apart from the financial aspect, many women are compelled to stay in the relationship because of companionship and for the sake of the child. Many victims of domestic violence find convenient excuses for their partner’s behavior, some driven by the shame and disbelief that such a thing was happening to them. Women who are in comfortable financial positions and social standing may have more options but are not less vulnerable to domestic violence. Some women have asked, if he doesn’t want the responsibility of a child, then why doesn’t he just leave? Leaving the pregnant woman may be simple, but once the child is born there are other factors that will still tie him to his unwanted partner and child such as child support and alimony.
Many of the men who murdered their pregnant partners had shown signs of psychopathic behavior even before the murder, and were likely to have been arrested for domestic violence. If you are pregnant and your partner isn’t feeling as joyous about the pregnancy as you are, it could be normal. Pregnancy is a big, life-changing event for the couple, and for men the emotional and financial responsibility it places on them can seem overwhelming. This feeling of fear and anxiety may be compounded by outside stressors such as problems with work, issues with their parents and physical or psychological problems. However, if you are getting some vibes that send cold chills up your spine, look for some signs and ask yourself these questions. Has your partner asked or told you to have an abortion? Has he said, he’s not ready to be a father yet? Did he break-off the relationship because of the pregnancy? Have you had disastrous conversations about child support? Any comments about you personally being the wrong person to have his child? Is your relationship an abusive one?
If your partner has made direct threats that he would cause you harm if you plan to have the baby, protect yourself. Don’t keep the news to yourself, tell your friends or family about it, and if the harassment escalates report it to local law enforcement agencies. There are also support groups that can help you during this difficult time. It might also be a good idea to move to a different residence. It is better to be proactive than to end up dead. Don’t wait until its too late.