Washington Post reporter Donna St. George “ignores available data that might place the horrific numbers she’s collected into relevant context,” says media critic Jack Shafer of Slate.com. As summarized by Crime & Justice News this week, a yearlong investigation by the Post documented 1,367 maternal homicides in the U.S. in the last 14 years, but these numbers are “far from complete,” the Post wrote. Shafer notes that the U.S. Department of Justice says that total murders of women in the U.S. peaked in 1993 at 5,550.
The number of murders of women by “intimates”–defined as a spouse, ex-spouse, or boyfriend–has also been falling since 1993 (when there were 1,581). St. George alludes to this good news when criminologist Neil Websdale of Northern Arizona University cautions her about overstating the problem. More than 1,000 women are killed each year in domestic clashes, Websdale says, most of whom are not pregnant. Shafer says she promptly drops the subject. “Why? Does she fear that these statistics will undermine her thesis?” He calculates that the Post’s 1,367 body count since 1990 actually may be about 910 pregnancy-related murders. “Still a horrific number, but a smaller horrific number,” he says.