Comments: Why should rapist have access to child they made?
August 22nd, 2012
08:37 PM ET

Comments: Why should rapist have access to child they made?

Editor's note: We're listening to you. Every day, we spot thought-provoking comments from readers. Here's a look at what readers are saying.

Chicago lawyer Shauna Prewitt wrote an opinion article for CNN.com detailing how she was raped in college and went on to not only have the resulting child, but fight laws allowing the fathers in these cases to seek "the same custody and visitation rights to their children that other fathers enjoy." The story comes after U.S. Rep. Todd Akin's controversial remarks about "legitimate rape" and abortion. Judging by the comments, it left a lot of readers examining their views.

Raped, pregnant and ordeal not over

Several male readers wrote in to say they gained a new perspective from the story.

holycow69: "Thank you for the courage to speak up. You taught me things I was not aware of, because as a man I don't have to ever think about these ramifications. My wife was raped nearly 20 years ago, devastating for my family. Her father's only comment was, 'You shouldn't dress so provocatively.' I wanted to rip his head off, but yelled at him that 'rape is rape, and she didn't ask for it.' No woman , no person, no one should ever have to endure that crap. Time for men to grow up and defend women's rights, not subjugate them. Time for real men to step forward. My question to Republicans is this, 'Are you man enough?' "

The subject was dumbfounding for some.

Guest: "As a man, I have an odd point of view of rape. I have never been exposed to it personally, nor would I ever consider committing it. I don't live in fear of it. It's such a heinous crime that I don't want to think about it. Mind you, as a human being, I have compassion for the victims of rape, but I acknowledge that I will always have a kind of ignorance towards the subject, as it is unfathomable to me how a human being could disrespect and hurt another human like that. I think Akin is not a monster. He is ignorant. He deserves forgiveness for his ignorance. But I hope NO voter would ever want someone that ignorant to speak for them."

Many thanked Prewitt.

DRoyLenz: Ms. Prewitt, your article really touched me. I was saddened to read the story of your rape, but motivated by your choice to keep the child and fight the injustices in the system. I had no clue that rapist fathers still had custody rights. It's something I never even thought about. Now that I am thinking about it though, it makes me sick. Thank you for educating us, the ignorant masses. Keep up the good work. You're an exceptionally strong woman."

s50: "Ms. Prewitt conveys more about the real issues involved in one short article then all of the the preachers or right-wing goofballs have said in a lifetime. Too bad we are so wrapped up in our dogma that we can't understand the issues as they present themselves to the victims. America has truly lost its moral compass."

The idea of a rapist having access to the child they produced was disturbing for some readers. One comment got interesting responses about how rape is defined.

Freygunnr: "What is obscene is allowing a rapist custody of a child whether it was his wife's or victim's."

Chartreuxe: "It happens: 90% of rapists get away with their crimes because of the 18th century attitudes of society. The victim is held responsible for her rape. Most rapes aren't reported. I didn't report mine."

sc2pilot: "Chartreuxe: If you did not report it, then you were not raped. Failure to report is tantamount to consent. That's all there is to it."

This person says she has seen such families firsthand.

judy415: "Shauna, I admire your enormous resilience of character and personal resourcefulness in becoming an attorney and raising your daughter as a single mother. I'm a single adoptive mom of two and a clinical psychologist who has worked with women whose children were conceived through rape. I want to point out that, for every woman who has been able somehow to love their child in spite of the circumstances of their conception, that there are countless millions more who carry an unbearably heavy burden. They are crushed by poverty, lack of formal education, lack of family resources, and such mental health issues arising from rape such as depression, panic attacks and post traumatic stress disorder. Sometimes their children struggle with mental health issues as well which are crippling for them and their families. I can only wish for Mr. Akin the opportunity to sit with a mother with paralyzing depression, and a 4-year-old with ADHD and overwhelming anxiety. She could not help seeing the face of the rapist in her child, try as she might, and she loathed herself for her inability to do any better for her child and for herself."

Looking at the abortion angle of the Akin flap, some readers wondered why a child conceived through rape would be denied existence just because of how the genetic material came together. One reader's reply was provocative and thought-provoking.

rabbitone: "Look man. These Republicans and some Democrats and many males and some females are terribly anti-woman and are terribly phony. We need to protect our sisters and mothers and friends and ourselves from the phony anti-woman losers."

gwf333: "I'm not anti-women. I'm married. I love my wife. I treat her well. She treats me well. So to say that because I believe that a human life, no matter how young or small, should be protected, not discarded and thrown away, does not equate to me hating women or being anti-women. That argument does not follow. Perhaps I could argue that you are actually 'anti-life' in that you do not believe all human lives should be protected. I believe that the right to life (even for those who can't argue on their own behalf) should overrule the right to end life (abortion). Rape is terrible, horrible - nothing good about it. And it's tragic that a woman should carry the baby of her rapist. But I believe life itself is so much more precious (though perhaps not this life for her), that it should be given the right to live. It's a bad circumstance to be sure, no way around it. But I choose to focus on how precious an innocent human life is and not let them ultimately be the worst victim of all."

At the same time, readers stressed how personal such decisions become.

Tracey Padron: "Raped at 27, I also conceived. I kept the child and am SO glad I did. He is now 21 and a stunning young man. I can't even begin to imagine what it must be like to have to deal with the rapist 'father.' THAT IS HORRIFIC and the laws are beyond antiquated. The baby is not the criminal and should not suffer ... but neither should the woman. I made and canceled three appointments for an abortion and am glad not to have suffered that indignity. I know I was lucky. So was my son. The rapist never got his due, but my son and I survived and prospered. The ignoramus Akin needs to be removed. If he is not smart enough to get his facts straight, he has no place 'serving the people.' He also gives pro-life people a bad name. Children conceived of rape are not monsters, and it is much easier to get over a rape than it would be to get over rape AND an abortion.

ChrisCintheD: "Children conceived from rape are not monsters. Neither are women who choose to abort rape-induced pregnancies. Leave it to the victim to decide what she can handle and what she cannot. Having the choice made for you is like being raped all over again."

Where do you stand? Share your views below or sound off on CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

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Filed under: Comments • Crime • Justice
soundoff (59 Responses)
  1. Albert Leo

    It would be really good if men would just shut the hell up on the abortion issue. Yes, we are human and were born. Yes, we are parents. But we will never get pregnant, never have to face a situation where bearing a child means huge problems. There is nothing men can add to this discussion that women can't provide just as well, and they are the ones most directly affected. Note that most of the voices you hear in the abortion debate are male.

    August 31, 2012 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • icyiluvu

      THANK YOU!

      September 3, 2012 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • BSmith

      Albert – When women can make babies by themselves then they can tell men to shut the hell up about abortions. Until then abortions is still murdering babies no matter how you justify it. If women don't want equality across the board than we can make things very unequal...Abortion can be outlawed by us "Men", and the women can go back to being our servants.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob D. Bilder

      Well Said Albert!

      B Smith, it is Your Opinion that abortion = murder. My opinion, which is Just as Valid as yours (if not more), is that it is Not.

      September 6, 2012 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
    • dvorraro

      Much as I want to agree with you, I think this logic sets a very bad precedent.

      The same logic can be used to argue that only soldiers or vets can have opinions on, war or issues of homeland security. Perhaps only economists should state their opinions on the economy.

      People need to be educated, not silenced. The only way to identify and correct ignorance is to have an open and honest debate on it. That is something we can't afford to shy away from.

      There are honest, conscientious, and caring people on both sides of the issue – men and women. We cannot let the ignorance of the Akins of the world convince us it is ever a good idea to chill free speech

      September 7, 2012 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Peter

      Thanks Leo I couldn't agree more. Not as many women stand up and weigh in on these debates that are dominated by men who cannot comprehend the issue. But they just might weigh in while standing in the voting booth in November though.They may think of the ignorant Senatorial candidate in Missouri just before they pull the lever. Most won't tell their husbands what they based the decision on. But if it happens, we'll be stuck with Obummer another 4 years. But men will always vote their checking accounts, wallet, 401k balance, the statement they get from SS every two years showing how much we're going to get when we're 67 (and how much you paid into payroll taxes), and examine the deductions from your gross pay every month for taxes and health insurance withheld/confiscated from our real earnings. By government. Men begin to wonder if the cost of civillization is worth what we get in our own communities. Men will vote for the other guy. The anti-Obummer candidate (it appears that it didn't really matter who the other guy was!). But how it comes out is anybody's guess. I won't be placing any wagers on it.

      September 9, 2012 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
  2. @icyiluvu

    You are welcome, always.

    September 3, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dana in NYC

    When a developing fetus can be transplanted into a man, gestate and be delivered via Caesarian section then we can outlaw abortion and allow the "biological" and now gestational father whatever rights he was willing to earn by the process. Until then it would be good of you sperm donors to butt out of the debate because you have no territorial rights to the bodies of women. Rare, safe and legal is the only way to go.

    September 5, 2012 at 11:12 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Victoria

    BSmith-REALLY?!-Maybe a reason why it should be used more often...

    September 8, 2012 at 8:12 am | Report abuse |
  5. Icookwell

    B-Smith-

    Women can reproduce on their own-it's called sperm donors, also there is now technology that can allow scientists to convert bone marrow stem cells in to male gamates. This being said if you get control over my reproduction do I get control over yours?

    September 10, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  6. william

    Kill the rapist and save the mother and child the misery of ever seeing him again. I hope he gets what he deserves in prison... over and over again.

    October 29, 2012 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
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