Health & Reproductive Justice

Health and Reproductive Justice

Parental Rights of Rapists

Legal Voice Works to Help Mothers Protect Children Born of Rape

True reproductive autonomy for women includes freedom from violence and the ability to protect their children from violence. Yet, for women in the United States who have children resulting from rape, family laws (as well as other laws) hinder their ability to raise their children in safety and peace. Each year, an estimated 32,000 women in the United States become pregnant as a result of rape. Of those women, many decide to terminate their pregnancies, rather than cope with the psychological torment of going through the pregnancy. Many others, for just as legitimate reasons, decide to carry the pregnancies to term. Most would assume that in this latter situation, the rapist would have no legal parental rights to the child. Sadly, this is not the case. For many women in this situation, there is a high likelihood under state family laws that the rapist could, indeed, gain parental rights. That risk is heightened for women receiving public assistance benefits. Legal Voice is working hard to educate mothers, analyze laws, and develop strategies to change laws to ensure that women who have children as a result of rape are equally supported, empowered, and encouraged in their efforts to raise their children in peace.

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Women's rights. Nothing less.

 

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