Writing Wrongs

I hope my theme this month of Pet Peeves hasn’t made you go running away from my blog screaming.  But today’s peeve really boils my blood.

Did you know that in the majority of the U.S., rapists have parental rights for the children conceived through their crime?

Yes, it’s true.  In 31 states, a man who impregnates a woman through rape can successfully sue her for child visitation rights as well as custody!

So, let’s break this down.  A woman is brutally and violently raped, maybe by someone she knows, or perhaps by a complete stranger.  She goes through the scrutiny of trial and faces a good chance that the scumbag that violated her may get off on a technicality.  Or he is sentenced to prison but released shortly thereafter due to overcrowding.  Or there’s also a good chance that the state attorney opted not to take her case, and the rapist was never tried.

Meanwhile, a few weeks after her attack, the woman realizes she’s pregnant.  Perhaps she’s married and now doesn’t know if the child is her husband’s or not.  Perhaps she was not even sexually active at the time, and she knows for certain that the child is definitely a product of her rape.

The woman is faced with some choices.  Does she terminate the pregnancy?  Maybe she doesn’t believe in abortion and couldn’t live with herself if she did that.  Does she give the child up for adoption?  We don’t know her situation.  Again, if she was married, she might not know for certain who fathered the child.  Or she might have fertility issues, and it was a miracle that she became pregnant at all.  Or she just might not be able to go through with giving her own child up after carrying it for nine months.

At any rate, the brave woman who decided to keep and love her child, despite the wickedness of its conception, is home raising her child and minding her own business when all of a sudden, a process server knocks on her door and serves her with a paternity lawsuit.  And what does this lawsuit say?  Yes, while it might address the child’s right to know its father, you better believe that it also includes such language that says that the father has parental rights.

If the woman lives in one of the 31 states that preserve the legal rights of rapists, she can then look forward to sharing holidays with a violent sexual predator.  She can see her attacker every other weekend for visitation, and she can sit next to him for school meetings.  She can now worry for her own safety as well as the safety of her child (perhaps her daughter), as well as if she has any other children.  If she was married at the time of her attack and her husband was a noble enough man to selflessly raise the child as his own, now he will also have to deal with protecting the parental rights of his wife’s rapist.

I could probably literally write a book about how much this particular law gets me riled, but I’ll stop here.  I know my pet peeves to date have gotten rather intense, so next week, I’ll try to get back to my normal fun-loving self and add some levity to my theme of the month.

So, does this law peeve you as much as it does me?  Is there a law that is either in place and shouldn’t be, or needs to be made or changed, that addresses one of your pet peeves?