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August 23rd, 2012
10:14 AM ET

Battling a rapist for parental rights: Shauna Prewitt on her personal story of rape, birth and custody fight

We've been hearing a lot about Rep. Todd Akin's controversial rape comments, but one side we haven't heard much from is the victims.

According to the American College of Obsetrics and Gynecology, 5% of women become pregnant due to rape. One of those women, Shauna Prewitt, has come forward, writing a powerful letter that has gone viral. In the letter, now posted in the CNN.com/Opinion section, she says "Rep. Todd Akin's recent comments that 'legitimate rape' rarely results in pregnancy not only flout scientific fact but, for me, cut deeper. Akin has de-legitimized my rape."

Prewitt, who is now an attorney, was 21 when she was raped and became pregnant. Her daughter is now 7 years old. She shares her story with Soledad O'Brien on "Starting Point," and explains that not only did she decide to keep her daughter, but had to face a custody battle with her attacker.

"He filed for sole custody of her," Prewitt says. "I am very lucky that his parental rights were terminated so he is no longer or was never a part of our lives. But I fight today in my advocacy work for the past two years focused on helping other women who haven't been so lucky or aren't so lucky."

She adds, "words have power....the way in which we speak about women who become pregnant through rape...I think has made us suspicious of anyone like me or the 30% of other women who each year choose to keep and raise the children that they conceived through rape. We are suspicious of them because they behave in a way that our dialog suggests they shouldn't. I think we're hesitant to pass the laws because frankly we don't think that women like me exist."

See more from Prewitt's interview with Soledad in the clip above. Read Prewitt's letter "Raped, pregnant and ordeal not over."

We want to know what you think: Should states allow men who father through rape to have same custody and visitation rights to their children as other fathers? And does your opinion change if it's in a case of statutory rape?


Filed under: Parental rights • Rape
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. JC

    We definitely are not hearing the whole story, only one side of it. Most cases I have recently read about a rapist asking for visitation/custody of their kids is prompted after being pursued for child support. When you legally require someone to pay child support that opens up the doors for other common parental rights like visitation and/or custody. It is up to the courts to determine who the child is better off with.

    And keep in mind, any law you pass also will affect the reverse. There have been cases (as rare as that may be) where a woman rapes a man and became pregnant. If we say that the rapist doesn't deserve custody then should that baby be taken away from the mother on sheer principal?

    February 1, 2013 at 8:30 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. PaulC

    I want to be on that jury.
    If they grant this cretin parental rights then this country will be the poster child for stupidity.

    August 23, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Mark Newsom

    Visitation/custody should be 100% at the descretion of the mother and further with court approval to ensure that mother is not being coherst into it. I feel pretty comfortable saying that no mother will agree to visitation or custody. In addition to paying for the crime with prison time, they should also be forced to pay child support.

    August 23, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. L.G.

    no

    August 23, 2012 at 10:59 am | Report abuse | Reply

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