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. wisefool

    Why Why? Never in the world until death parts us!

    August 22, 2012 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Douglas

    Wasn't her body supposed to shut down during the rape so she couldn't get pregnant?

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

      According to Akin and those who think like him she must have consented in her heart.

      August 24, 2012 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
  3. nsaidi

    Thanks for your suggestions, Jason. This blog post is about the comments that readers post on the site, and the stories that resonate. That's why I chose to feature the comments from this story; because people had a uniquely strong reaction to it. I'll take a look at stories about the other topics you mentioned, and if they also have good comments, they could be featured here as well.

    August 22, 2012 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Pamela

    I am humbled by the women who have shared their stories and only wish that those primarily GOP men could learn from these experiences and show the truly Christian values that they pretend to espouse.

    August 22, 2012 at 11:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Bill

    As soon as this scumbag sued for visitation rights, he should have been tossed in the can for the rest of his life. He did, after all, admit to his crime. Castration comes immediately to mind as well.

    August 22, 2012 at 11:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • David C

      That would have been perfect! Except I was under the impression that he made the admission to get visitation, and she promised not to lay charges so he wouldn't try to get visitation.

      October 25, 2012 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Light1Up

    I feel sympathy for all the women who were violated in some shape or form. Im not a regular around here but keep on going Phil.

    August 23, 2012 at 12:12 am | Report abuse |
  7. Linda

    I was very happy to read that there are more women willing to come forward and say they were raped. I was raped while pregnant with my youngest. I was afraid but had help from many fronts. I still do not talk about the rape much. I have hidden it due feeling shame.

    August 23, 2012 at 1:25 am | Report abuse |
  8. Still22

    A rapist by definition is mentally ill. No known cure exists for this condition. Mentally ill people are not generally considered to be good parental material, and sadly their offspring are at risk of inheriting mental health issues. I expect the courts to evaluate this in their decision.

    August 23, 2012 at 1:29 am | Report abuse |
  9. Colette

    Ms. Prewitt, I commend you. You are strong and courageous, and your daughter is lucky to have you as a mother. I am sickened by some of the comments I have read on here, and ask you to ignore ignorance...or fight it.

    August 23, 2012 at 1:47 am | Report abuse |
  10. Oleg

    I like that dark haired woman in picture. Would she like to relocate to the Balkans where I live? I have many goats and sheep.

    August 23, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • SueinCypress

      Maybe with your ignorance and stupidity you should stay away from the keyboard entirely.

      August 24, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  11. weber

    This has to be the stupidest question of all time. THEY SHOULDN'T.

    August 23, 2012 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
  12. fernace

    Those who feel this is a nonsensical issue are free to comment on other threads, about things they feel are important! I would venture that all of us has a friend, relative, aquaintance who has been ra.ped! We are all touched on some level by this heinous crime, even when we think it has nothing to do w/us! For a politician to make such a ridiculous statement is extremely troublesome, to make policy based on such 19th century alchemy is arrogant, irresponsible & dangerous! Why are these guys after abortion anyway? It's legal & must remain so! Taking a legal medical option back to the back alleys & clothes hangers is the height of political bullying! Here's a rule I try to live by: is it my business to tell strangers how to live their lives, how/what to choose, how to raise their kids, how many to have etc!? That's an unequivocal No! Why would pro-lifers & like minded politicians feel it's Their business to tell me My business! If I'm pregnant, I own the DNA & my body, the decision is mine, No1 elses!!

    August 23, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
  13. chilipepper

    Only a hard left liberal would be in favor of a rapist getting visitation rights.

    August 24, 2012 at 6:43 am | Report abuse |
    • MarkinFL

      Typical right-wing double-speak

      August 24, 2012 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Crocky

      Funny that most of the states that allow rapists to have parental rights for these kids are BLUE states. Go figure, huh?

      August 30, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  14. MarkinFL

    Argument still comes back to whether a few cells are a person or not. They are human cells with the potential to become a person, but there is no rational basis for giving a few cells the same rights as a child.

    August 24, 2012 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Crocky

      By definition it's a parasite anyways. Some want to keep it until it turns into a baby, some don't. In either case, it's no one else's business but the woman who has to deal with it.

      August 30, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  15. JenLaw

    I can give you a list, a list of people, families that I know will take those babies. I also know more. Do you have any idea how hard it is to adopt in this Country? Obviously not. Not just anyone can.

    August 28, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
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