There Are Some Shocking Rape-Friendly Policies in Pennsylvania
By now you’ve heard about Missouri Republican Todd Akin claiming that it was “really rare” for a woman to become pregnant from rape, and following up that ridiculous assertion with an 18-word train wreck: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
We also know that Akin is far from the first politician to assert that women have magic lady-venom that zaps rape sperm dead.
But at least this round of biological buffoonery was productive. A piece written last week by Shauna Prewitt, a woman who went to law school after bearing a child conceived in rape, revealed shocking rape-friendly policies that she discovered after her attack: “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,” wrote Prewitt.
She also points out that studies show that up to 30 percent of women who conceive by rape choose to carry the pregnancy to term.
So what about Pennsylvania? It turns out that Pennsylvania recently became one of the states to add rape as a valid disqualification for parental rights.
From the code: “The rights of a parent in regard to a child may be terminated after a petition filed on any of the following grounds” and includes No. 7: “The parent is the father of a child conceived as a result of a rape or incest.”
How progressive! The catch, however, is that the man must be actually be convicted of the rape. And even then, according to Diane Moyer, legislative director of Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR), a crazy judge could award some rights to him, such as visitation, supervised or not.
“You have to remember involuntary termination only occurs pending adoption,” Moyer says. “If there’s placement or adoption proceedings, his parental rights can be involuntarily terminated.”
So in other words, the rights of a biological father—whether he has been convicted of raping the mother or not—aren’t necessary completely terminated unless another person is adopting that child.
It’s interesting that the politicians who want to criminalize abortion without rape or incest exemptions—a position supported by the Republican Party platform since 1976—haven’t bothered to create a law that would ensure rape victims who actually wanted to bring the pregnancy to term can’t be harassed by, or tethered forever to, the rapist-father.