Editorial: Returning rights to women

Proposed legislature is long overdue

By TNH Editoral Staff
On February 14, 2014

The front-page article "Parental rights for rapists may be terminated" addressed an issue that many students and New Hampshire residents may not even realize was a possibility. The article discusses a recently proposed piece of legislation that would terminate parental rights for convicted rapists and further restrict the rights of rapists who have been tried and not convicted.

It is difficult to imagine, but this implies that current legislation does not automatically terminate the parental rights of convicted rapists.

The article presents staggering numbers, stating that one out of every four women falls victim to sexual assaults each year and that, out of the 25,000 to 32,000 rape victims, 8,000 to 11,000 choose to keep their babies.

This means that potentially up to 11,000 women have to fight their rapists for full parental rights of a child that was conceived against her consent. Rape takes consent away from the victim; the fact that victims later have to struggle in a battle about consent again is unimaginable. 

Shauna Prewitt, the advocate who personally experienced this issue of fighting her rapist for parental rights, was forced to choose between testifying against her rapist and stripping him of his parental rights.

There are undoubtedly other women who have endured this terrible set of options. Female victims of rape should be able to keep their child if they choose to without having to give up their right to testify against their rapist. With this new piece of legislature, hopefully no other woman will again be put in this situation.

The only question is: Why are there states where legislature allows for the possibility of rapists maintaining parental rights? Although genetically the father to the child, the rapist should not have the right to act as a parent.

After enduring a physical and emotional assault, women should not have to endure a further emotional battle of potentially sharing parental rights with someone who took away their own rights.

This piece of legislature is a strong step in returning rights to women who have been violated and in stripping power from men who have disregarded the rights of their victims. After denying victims the rights of consent, rapists should be denied any degree of parental rights.

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