Pregnancy's Biggest Danger: Homicide

Lauren Graham as Lorelai Gilmore, left, and Alexis Bledel as Rory Gilmore, right, star in the CW's "Gilmore Girls" which will air its series finale on May 15, 2007.
Mark Liddell/The CW Network
Sherry Ann Culp, a divorced mother of two, was pregnant by her boyfriend. Just before Sherry would have given birth — she was executed.

"She got into her car, was fumbling with her keys, and someone shot her through the window twice in the head," recalled her father Ken Young.

The baby, Kelsey, survived for two days.

Three years later, police haven't made an arrest. But Sherry's parents believe whoever hired the hit man was motivated by rage over the pregnancy, reports CBS News Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson.

"I think the baby was definitely the cause of her death," admitted her mother Jane.

"If she hadn't been pregnant, she'd still be alive and she'd have a three-year-old baby," predicted Ken.

The little-known truth is murder just may be one of the leading causes of death among pregnant women.

There are many high profile examples — like former pro football player Rae Carruth convicted in the death of his pregnant girlfriend.

But even Isabelle Horon, who studied the problem in Maryland, was stunned by her own findings that a pregnant woman is more likely to be murdered than to die of any other cause.

A Disturbing Study
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that the leading cause of death in pregnant women is murder.

The study looked at 247 pregnancy-associated deaths in Maryland from 1993-1998 and found 20 percent had been murdered.

Click here to read the entire study.

Her report, in the Journal of the American Medical Association, shows of 247 deaths of pregnant women in five years — 20 percent had been murdered.

When she was asked what it was about women being pregnant that made them more likely to be killed, Horon said, "Well pregnancy is a stressful period under the best of circumstances."

"I just can't imagine killing a pregnant woman — I just can't," exclaimed Jane Young.

The question is: what exactly is the connection between women becoming pregnant and becoming victims. That answer could help in developing preventive plans for mothers-to-be that extend beyond medical risks to the risk of violence.

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