Child Custody for Rapists

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Rape and pregnancy became explosive issues during the last U.S. election. And the statistics that emerged were startling. It's estimated that about 32,000 women become pregnant as a result of rape in the United States each year. About a third of those women choose to keep the babies. Whatever the emotional cost of that decision, many women face a further blow. Rapists in the U.S. may use the constitutionally protected right of a biological father to demand access to their child. And that begs the question ... how vulnerable are women in Canada?



Child Custody for Rapists - Lawyer representing client who became pregnant at 14 after being raped

Thanks to the comments of a Missouri politician, rape and pregnancy became explosive issues during the last U.S. election. And the statistics that emerged were startling.

It's estimated that about 32,000 women become pregnant as a result of sexual assault in the United States each year. About a third of those women choose to keep the babies. Whatever the emotional cost of that decision, many women face a further blow. Rapists in the U.S. may use the constitutionally protected right of a biological father to demand access to their child.

Wendy Murphy is a lawyer representing a young woman in Massachusetts who became pregnant as a result of a sexual assault. Her attacker pleaded guilty -- and is now suing for parental access to the child.

Wendy Murphy teaches at the New England School of Law.

We contacted the lawyer for the father in this case, but he declined to be interviewed.

Child Custody for Rapists - Lawyer lobbying to change legislation

Shauna Prewitt can relate to Wendy Murphy's client. This summer she wrote an open letter to Senate candidate Todd Akin about how she was quote -"legitimately"- raped, became pregnant and chose to keep the child.

The man she says assaulted her was not convicted, but he sued her -- unsuccessfully - for custody of the child. She was so upset this was even possible, she became a lawyer.

She's lobbying for changes to state laws so judges would be required to consider rape conception when ruling in parental rights' cases. Shauna Prewitt was in Chicago.

Ned Holstein is the chairman of Fathers and Families, an organization that works to reform family law.

Child Custody for Rapists - National Center for Men

As we heard some men's groups are concerned about her campaign to amend family laws. Mel Feit is the director of the U.S. organization, National Center for Men. It advocates for equal rights for men. He was in Coram, New York.

Child Custody for Rapists - Lawyer specializing in women's equality

Although the laws in Canada are different, my next guest says similar tensions exist. Pamela Cross is a lawyer specializing in violence against women. She was in Toronto.

This segment was produced by The Current's Sujata Berry.


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