What choices are we really giving women?

When Shauna Prewitt was raped in college, she chose to give birth to the baby conceived during that rape.  Then, she found out that many rapists can legally obtain visitation with the children produced during rape.  In Attorney Prewitt’s eloquent words,

It would not be long before I would learn firsthand that in the vast majority of states — 31 — men who father through rape are able to assert the same custody and visitation rights to their children that other fathers enjoy. When no law prohibits a rapist from exercising these rights, a woman may feel forced to bargain away her legal rights to a criminal trial in exchange for the rapist dropping the bid to have access to her child.

When faced with the choice between a lifetime tethered to her rapist or meaningful legal redress, the answer may be easy, but it is not painless. For the sake of her child, the woman will sacrifice her need to see her once immensely powerful perpetrator humbled by the court.

I will also point out that the rest of society is also harmed by this: rapists may attack with near-impunity, and are free to visit the same hell upon other women.

The existence of easily-accessible abortion often causes the very result it was intended to avoid: eliminating women’s choices. In 2003, Florida enacted a law which required any woman who was giving up her baby for adoption to obtain the father’s consent; if she did not know the father, she would have to publish details of the encounter in a newspaper; if raped, she would still need his consent. (Link.)  The law was repealed after victim’s rights advocates teamed up with pro-lifers to protest the likely result: shame and abortion.

When Carolyn Savage was impregnated with another couple’s embryo, due to a mistake at her clinic, she learned that she had no legal rights to the child if she continued the pregnancy, but could abort without repercussions.  (She gave birth to Logan and gave him to his genetic parents.)

These types of laws are predicated on the assumption that women can always abort, and that such an action doesn’t have moral implications, or is otherwise an undesirable outcome.   This is functionally anti-choice, because it gives a woman a choice between her legal rights and the well-being of the child in her womb.  Backwards and barbaric, that.

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Filed under Bioethics, Law

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