Stripping Parental Rights from Rapists May Be One Place Pro-Life and Pro-Choice Can Agree

In May of 2013, Ariel Castro was arrested for kidnapping and holding three women hostage in his home for as long as a decade, raping them and in even impregnating one of his captives who then gave birth to the child of her captor.

Castro, who was sentenced to life in prison and an additional 1,000 years, made in only a few months before committing suicide in his jail cell. His crimes, however, brought to light another gruesome reality. In 31 states across the country, if a rapist impregnates a victim, he can sue for paternal rights.

Ohio wants to make that 30.

The Ohio legislature is about as divided as any in the country, with deep disagreements between the state’s Democrats and Republicans on nearly every issue. However, the House voted unanimously when it came to voting in favor of a bill to curb parental rights of a convicted rapist, in part because of Castro’s story. While in jail and preparing for trial, Castro asked for permission to have contact with the 6-year-old girl that he fathered with one of his kidnapping victims, a request that was denied as “inappropriate” by the judge.

The Ohio bill would codify these restrictions, and was crafted by Democratic Rep. Nickie Antonio and Republican Rep. Rep. Kirk Schuring, bringing party members from across the aisle together for a rare common cause. The new law would “inhibit parental rights such as inheritance and consent to adoption for those men who plead guilty or are convicted of rape or sexual battery,” but still require the attackers to pay child support for the child they forced their victim to conceive, according to news reports.

The Castro case was obviously an extreme example, but sadly, a rapist trying to gain parental rights is more common than many believe. According to studies, one third of rape victims give birth if they get pregnant as a result of the attack.

That leaves a number of them potentially in the same situation as Shauna Prewitt, who was raped in college and later asked to provide partial custody to the man who raped her, according to CNN. Prewitt is now a custody attorney and advocating for laws against allowing rapists to have any custody over their children conceived in sexual assault.

Courts, however, seem oddly resistant. Take the case in Massachusetts where a judge not only advocated that a rapist have contact with the child of his then 14-year-old victim, but made it part of the rapist’s probation in his sentence. The victim and her family fought the order, noting that it mandated the victim establish and maintain a 16-year-old relationship with her attacker.

Just as forbidding those convicted of rape or sexual battery is a rare law that draws together bipartisan support, it also pulls together those in the women’s rights and anti-abortion rights camps. Both groups want to ensure that a person who chooses to carry a child to term after a sexual attack can do so without worrying about a continuing relationship with an attacker, or his potential ability to veto her decisions when it comes to parenting or adoption.

As Kelsey Hazzard of Secular Pro-Life writes: “I have to believe that these laws are simply the result of oversight….Once legislation is enacted, political inertia comes into play, and no reform comes until people start making real noise. The time to make that noise is now. If there is any common ground between pro-lifers and pro-choicers, this is it!”

Ohio has started the ball rolling on reforming these laws. Which state will be next?

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Jerome S
Jerome S9 months ago


Jim Ven
Jim V9 months ago

thanks for sharing.

Jim Ven
Jim V1 years ago

thanks for the article.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill4 years ago

I don't understand why government doesn't work together. Why not start with the things everyone agrees on, at least they get something done. Instead they have to do these huge bills that as Pelosi said about ObamaCare, We have to pass the bill in order to find out what's in it. Not the way to do anything!

Boods ---------------
Walter F4 years ago

Incredible .As they say "only in America"

Neil A.
Neil A4 years ago

So much lunacy in the legal system & so often harms women/girls & their children!

Fi T.
Past Member 4 years ago

Where's our future?

Patricia H.
Patricia H.4 years ago

thanks for posting

Cassie Marcks
Cassie Marcks4 years ago


Aurea Walker

For a supposed "Christian" country we truly have very unchristian laws! That a rapist would have ANY rights to a child conceived out of violence is not only unchristian but it empowers the rapist! There are people in jail for LIFE for selling marijuana but raping a woman (who will suffer for life emotionally) in some cases, the rapist will serve ONE DAY IN JAIL! The young girl who was abused/raped by her teacher who was 35 YEARS her senior ultimately committed suicide. The judge in that case had the gall to say "she behaved above her chronological age". So for those who rape a child or a young person, not only should not have any rights but should do a minimum of 25 years in jail. It is not only that the rape laws should be strictly enforced but in some cases the judges should also be held accountable! Laws on rape in my book are not equally applied, depending on the rapists race, economic level or family connections. A rapist having parental rights is sheer insanity!