Rapists should not get custody
Imagine that after one of the most harrowing experiences a person could endure, a woman not only found herself pregnant but also made the bold, difficult choice to raise the child. Imagine next that her decision would then give her rapist an opportunity to remain firmly in her life, in one of the most intimate of relationships.
Imagine he wanted – and legally had the right to be – that child's father. It's a very real scenario, all across America. But in one state, that may soon be changing.
As a riveting CNN story last summer, at the height of"legitimate rape" fever, illuminated, a stunning majority of states – 31 of them – offer some form of visitation and custody rights for men who impregnate their rape victims. And it's not just the threat of having to co-parent with one's assailant that's a nightmare for many victims -- it's the ugly opportunism it inspires. As attorney Shauna Prewitt, whose daughter was the product of a sexual assault, wrote back then, "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." A baby can become a bargaining chip.