Yeah, you read that correctly. In a total of 31 states men who impregnate a woman through rape are allowed to assert the same parental custody and visitation rights as any other father. Shauna Prewitt, a woman who has experienced this reality first hand, explains that:
When no law prohibits a rapist from exercising these rights, a woman may feel forced to bargain away her legal rights to a criminal trial in exchange for the rapist dropping the bid to have access to her child.
This is just wrong. Shauna Prewitt actually went to law school to find out what she could do about it. Prewitt reveals a haunting truth.
When faced with the choice between a lifetime tethered to her rapist or meaningful legal redress, the answer may be easy, but it is not painless. For the sake of her child, [a] woman will sacrifice her need to see her once immensely powerful perpetrator humbled by the court.
Why is this injustice allowed? Prewitt blames ignorance. She goes onto say that
Opponents argue no woman would ever choose to raise the child she conceived through rape. The only two studies to analyze the choices made by pregnant raped women indicate otherwise — at least 30% of women who conceive by rape make this choice.
She adds that many people claim that a rapist would never request custody of their child, yet this opinion is historically untrue.
Let’s be honest, Senator Akin’s recent comment that
If rape is a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,
doesn’t help the problem of ignorance at all. Apparently Akin missed science class, or maybe school altogether.
How the hell does such an uneducated, irrational person like Akin become a leader? Most importantly, as we watch Akin lead the polls in the Missouri senate race, I can’t help but wonder: why are people voting for him?
It is our vote that allows preposterous laws like this to exist. Our future is our responsibility.