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. Jason

    Have you no shame CNN?

    Are your ratings not bad enough? Obama's re-election is tanking, and the glimmer of hope progressives visualize is the pro-choice 'Romney's waging a war on women' schtick as if we didn't have more important issues. Pathetic. For what it's worth,I agree that this Senator candidate is a moron, and if I were in Missouri I wouldn't vote for him. I'm pro-choice. I'm a social liberal. But the way CNN is plugging this story is essentially their NARRATIVE and it's chilling, to look at how EVERY article is about this on their web-pate. THere are a LOT LOT LOT more important issues out there (ie China and the military push to extend their nautical boundaries, the oil/gas debate versus green energy, etc, the Israelei-Iran confrontation). Oh, I so look forward to Romeny/Ryan winning in spite of CNN taking the tack that it's their job to push a narrative.

    August 22, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dean

      Intelligent person trying desperately to change the subject = LOSER

      August 22, 2012 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      You sounded intelligent for a moment, but to state that you'd like to see "Romeny/Ryan" in the WH out of spite is just plain irresponsible. If the GOP installs their agenda, your pain will be far worse, I assure you (unless you are a rich white man). If you fashion yourself as a progressive, get off the bench and start talking common sense.

      August 22, 2012 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      CNN is obviously using this issue as free a pro-Obama campaign re-election article.

      They don't have any shame, because that the liberal passive aggressiveness that is rampant across mainstream media. Like the Obama administration has said in the past....never let an opportunity go to waste to make a political gain.

      August 22, 2012 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chits

      Re on china and nautical boundaries.

      China has been claiming thoe islands since imperial times during the qing dynasty. It also held those claims, the Republic of China nationalist government, which fled to taiwan after losing the civil war to the communists, also claimed the entire aouth china sea, and taiwan and china both make the exact same claims, that the south china sea is their own territorial waters and not international. They did not suddenly start claiming those islands out of thin air just recently. If you think chinas acting imperialist i have a bridge to aell you in brooklyn, because taiwans position is the exact same as chinas.

      They both reject the american claim that the waters are international... And both china and taiwan use military deployment to warn the vietnamese ans filipinos not to mess with them on those waters.

      August 22, 2012 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • asifyoucould

      Obamas re election is tanking? lol

      August 22, 2012 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Duncan

      Too bad there is no death penaltly for rapists. If felons can't vote why should they have the right to paternity of a child conceived from their rape of another person? NO WAY! As a republican I am sickened by the misguided beliefs of this Akin clown but he does not represent the beliefs of the Romney/Ryan platform.

      August 22, 2012 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
  2. colo3577

    Men better be paying attention too!! I can not take birth control. It makes me ill. My boyfriend and I have protected sex with condoms. We have had three of them break over our 5 years together. If republican platform was in effect, we could have beeen FORCED to have 3 children. Talk about forcible laws?!!!!

    August 22, 2012 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
  3. deborah Jefferson

    I applaud your courage in the face of such a traumatizing ordeal. I cannot fathom the arrogance of a man who violated you trying to force what he deems are his rights because of the results of his violent act. I can only imagine the frustration of trying to hold onto that part of yourself in that child that grew inside you,that you love and are compelled to protect. It must be a fearful and devastating thought of that monster going anywhere near your child. I am curious as to how he became aware that HE is the father and I want to thank you for opening up dialogue on this subject.

    August 22, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Joe

    The OMB is telling the country is going off a fiscal cliff and unemployment will be above 9.0% if it's not adressed. 40 million Americans unemployed or undremployed. The housing market is still in the basement. We have "NO" energy policy and this administrations EPA is handcuffing coal, oil and nuclear energy industires Iran continues to develop a nuclear weapon and the Chinese are cleaning our clock in the world economy.

    Wait! Ok. Let's stop and talk about abortion issues while the titanic is sinking! Really??? WHO CARES!!!!! What is wrong with people????????

    August 22, 2012 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse |
  5. usef

    pathetic cnn........

    August 22, 2012 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Douglas

      You want to see pathetic try Fox News.

      August 22, 2012 at 11:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dean

    Given the comments above, I have no respect for those that support the GOP and their anachronistic, unscientific, elitist platform.

    August 22, 2012 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Bob

    Dean – let people speak their mind. Their comments are neither insensitive nor stupid. Liberals claim to be open minded – unless someone else's view doesn't align with theirs. You fit the profile 100% on that.

    August 22, 2012 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Don't waste your time Bob. You can't argue with hate and intolerance. Our founding fathers are rolling in their graves!

      August 22, 2012 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • JenLaw

      Hear, hear!

      August 28, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. banasy©

    "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, right here, is one reason women (and younger girls) have the att itude and stigma associated with this crime; the absolute firm belief that since it wasn't reported, it must have been a fabrication...there are a myriad of reasons women don't report rape, and the fear of "blame the victim" and not being believed is one of them.

    August 22, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. ML

    Wow is all I can say about this story.

    August 22, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Benji

    If a woman says "no" and/or you don't know her then if you have sex with her it is rape, pure and simple. It ain't hard to understand this. Keep your hands off women who don't want anything to do with you sexually. The GOP are idiots who try to define this. So if, God forbids, Mrs. Romney gets attacked and gets pregnant are these fools like Akins going to say it was not a "legitimate rape"/? Anyone who votes for the GOP deserves to be called an moron.

    August 22, 2012 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • JenLaw

      I'm a Republican and I agree with everything you noted. Am I still a moron?

      August 28, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  11. banasy©

    “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 is one reason why many women (and girls) do not report this crime; because of the backwards mentality of "blame the victim" and the fear that they won't be believed.
    I wasn't, and in fact I got labeled with the stigma that I had somehow "asked for it".

    So, sc2pilot, your opinion is not only misguided, it is flat out wrong.

    August 22, 2012 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
  12. banasy©

    Since I'm am, for whatever reasons, being censored, I will now say "later" to this thread.
    I will not keep trying to post a personal experience on here again.

    Later.

    August 22, 2012 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse |
  13. wisefool

    let t.a. be in the rapee's shoes and feel the pain and shame
    he sounds like coming out of no woman's jungle 'cause todd is a kin to nonsensical gentry
    shame on us having him as senator

    August 22, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  14. gwats1957

    Events like these are the very reasons we need to get the GOP out of the personal decisions of half of the US population.

    August 22, 2012 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mrs Beana

    No one is talking about the possible consequences of making abortion illegal. While you may be able to force a woman to have a child she does not want you can't force her to keep it. What happens to the unwanted children that result from making abortion illegal? Overrun orphanages, a new tax to support them all, generations of unloved unwanted throw away babies. Yes, some would be adopted but most probably would not. The women who chose to abort rather than have a brain damaged or physically impaired child...those children end up where and with whom? You can't address abortion without addressing what to do with all the children that making it illegal will create.

    August 22, 2012 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Crocky

      True...the problem is that most folks that are "pro-life" that I come across are actually "pro-birth" since they only really care about the baby until it's born. After that? The resulting kid is screwed, because they act like ostriches with their heads in the sand, not wanting to think about the consequences of outlawing abortions.

      August 30, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • C

      Crocky,

      The problem is, that those who are religious are also the ones who are taking care of the poor and donating to the orphanages. Just because conservatives don't believe it's the federal government's place to do something, doesn't mean that they believe it shouldn't be done at all.

      September 5, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
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