Target: State Assemblies of Washington, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, Illinois, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Arizona, New Mexico, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Florida
Goal: Urge state assemblies of the 23 states without any policy protecting mothers of rape-conceived children to enact legislation immediately
In 2004, Shauna Prewitt was raped during her last year of law school. Nine months later she gave birth to a baby girl and decided to keep her. In the midst of a lawsuit against her rapist, the man charged with her rape served her with custody papers. And as Shauna Prewitt learned the hard way, due to Missouri state law (her home state), the case was not cut and dry—there was a very real chance that her rapist could win shared custody.
It seems unimaginable, nonsensical even, that a rapist would be allowed parental rights to the child produced in the act of rape. But Prewitt is hardly alone, and new information has surfaced, shedding light on the fact that very few states offer protection for mothers like her. This is a deeply disturbing situation, one that must be resolved with haste.
In Missouri, at least, there is a statute in place allowing the court to step in and eliminate parental rights if the case justifies intervention. Shockingly, at least 23 states offer no protection and have zero statutes in place to safeguard mothers of rape-conceived children. “I got really lucky because the court terminated [my attacker’s] parental rights anyway,” said Prewitt. “But I know a lot of women aren’t so lucky.”
Many times rape crimes fly under the radar and are left unreported and unprosecuted: 9 out of every 100 rapes are prosecuted and only 5 lead to conviction verdicts, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. This makes it all the more problematic that 19 states currently have laws addressing custody issues concerning rape-conceived children, and 13 of these require “proof of conviction” of the rapist in order to terminate parental rights.
Sign below to petition the various state assemblies of states without any protective legislation in place for mothers of rape-conceived children. These women have endured enough at the hands of their assailants; we should do everything possible to ensure they are left to live and raise their children in peace.
Dear State Assemblies of Washington, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, Illinois, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Arizona, New Mexico, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Florida,
Shauna Prewitt was a 21 year-old law student who was raped and impregnated by her rapist. Upon deciding to keep the baby, she learned that in the large majority of U.S. states, the fathers of rape-conceived children have parental and custody rights to these children.
Each year, in at least 23 states, hundreds of women are raped and watch as their rapists then have the right to take custody of their children. It is hard to believe that anyone would argue that a relationship with a father who is also a rapist would have any positive effect on the mother or child. So, it is even more inconceivable that such a large percentage of states offer no protection for mothers of rape-conceived children.
Victims of rape have already suffered a tremendous amount; they should not have to fear that their child may be taken from them by the very men responsible for their suffering. Please take these women and their children into account and immediately pass and enact legislation terminating all parental rights for rapists.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Google Maps