Imagine being a woman who was raped. The physical and psychological effects of this violent crime can surely last a lifetime. Now imagine having been a victim of rape and finding out you are pregnant as a result of this horrific crime. Along with the devastation of being raped, now you are faced with carrying your attacker’s baby. That is what has happened to many women in the United States; including Shauna Prewitt, a Chicago-based attorney.
Shauna was raped and as a result became pregnant with a baby girl. As one could imagine, it was devastatingly hard to find out that you were carrying a baby from a man who was a violent criminal. She went through a myriad of conflicting feelings, including guilt and fear. After feeling a bond develop, or a “kinship” as she had described, Shauna decided to keep the baby. After the emotional roller coaster of making that decision, she thought her life would finally move forward. To her total shock, the man who raped her decided he was going to seek custody of the child.
After a legal battle, Shauna thankfully won full custody of her daughter. Rapists can actually sue for custody and visitation and in currently 23 states; they do not have legislation to block a convicted rapist from demanding custody or visitation. These violent criminals can demand the same visitation rights as an ordinary dad. This is sick and deplorable! A great example of how the criminals seemingly have more rights than the victims! It’s inconceivable to have to hand a child over to a violent rapist, but the threat still exists for many. It’s a never-ending nightmare for the victim; as it is about the rapist still wanting to be in control, rather than their “need” to be a father. Today, Shauna is an attorney and an advocate for other women in similar situations.
There is still a large stigma that involves public view of forcible rape. The notion that a woman deserves rape based on her choice of clothing was once an actual argument used to vilify the victim. The comments made by Congressman Todd Akin regarding pregnancy resulting from rape were just crazy and irresponsible. The congressman said, “It seems to be, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, it’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.” An unbelievable statement made out of ignorance that is insulting to every victim plagued with the memories from a pregnancy resulting from sexual violence. Thought processes such as these, make it harder for some woman to come forward out of fear of disbelief or being shunned by society.
Rape is about an act of violence and control over the victim, and is never under any circumstances the fault of the woman. Many people have a hard time understanding why a woman who became pregnant through rape would want to keep the child. A life that was produced through such a violent act is no fault of the child and warrants a chance at life. Although, not all women who have experienced this can bring themselves to carry a child created from such a horrific act, resulting in an abortion, this is an equally hard decision to come to as well.
Although it’s hard to pinpoint how many pregnancies result from rape each year (many victims never report to the police), the latest study showed that about 5% of unwanted pregnancies, which amounts to roughly 32,000 babies, are a result of rape. Many of these pregnancies result in abortion.
It’s not fathomable to have to have gone through such a situation, let alone become pregnant from rape. These women that decided to choose life instead of death for their babies deserve respect and adoration, as they are unsung heroes that have created light in the face of the ultimate, darkest adversity. Here is the list of states that still need legislation to close these loopholes. Call your representative today to demand it!
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming.
Image: Courtesy of: http://theoprimerviii.wordpress.com/2013/04/14/head-in-hand-sculpture/