Men Who Father Through Rape are Able to Have Rights to Child
In 31 states, men who have fathered a child through rape are able to exercise custodial and visitation rights that 'legitimate' fathers enjoy.
Chicago lawyer Shauna Prewitt wrote an opinion article for CNN.com detailing how she was raped in college and went on to not only have the resulting child, but fight laws allowing the fathers in these cases to seek "the same custody and visitation rights to their children that other fathers enjoy." The story comes after U.S. Rep. Todd Akin's controversial remarks about "legitimate rape" and abortion.
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Shauna Prewitt was raped, and nine months later she gave birth to her rapists child. "You see, nine months after my rape, I gave birth to a beautiful little girl. You could say she was conceived in rape; she was. But she is also so much more than her beginnings. I blissfully believed that after I finally had decided to give birth to and to raise my daughter, life would be all roses and endless days at the playground. I was wrong again."
Prewitt's rapist then took her to court and she had to fight him in a custody battle. She learned while researching her case that 31 states do not have laws that prohibit racists from asserting custodial and visitation rights over a child he fathered through rape.
In other words, the rapist exerts control over his victim once again, using the baby produced from the attack as a bargaining chip. His offer, “I’ll leave you alone and let go of the custody thing as long as you don’t try to prosecute me for what I did,” is grotesque, but no doubt very effective. Prewitt says of this dynamic, “it is not surprising that a man who cruelly degrades a woman would also seek to torture her in an even more agonizing way, by seeking access to her child.”
Prewitt is far from the only woman who has kept a baby that was fathered by a rapist. According to RH Reality Check, 32,000 American women become pregnant as a result of rape every year. That’s a whole lot of women whose bodies didn’t “shut that whole thing down.”
2010 statistics from the United Nations and RAINN show that between 207,000 and 270,000 women are raped in the U.S. each year. That means that 10 to 15 percent of rapes result in pregnancy, which seems high enough not to pass as an “extremely rare” occurrence.