Several weeks ago, U.S. Rep. (and Senate candidate) Todd Akin of Missouri made a reprehensible statement, that women who are "legitimately raped" rarely become pregnant. Appropriately, he was denounced by members of both the Democratic and Republican parties.
Victims' advocates pointed out that not only are Akin's words disgusting, but people should understand that 31 states, West Virginia included, actually allow rapists parental rights to children they father. This is appalling, to say the least.
This gaping hole in our legal system must be fixed -- immediately. And I want to do my part to make this happen in West Virginia.
If elected to the West Virginia Senate, I will introduce a bill to close the loophole in state law that allows a rapist to play a role in the life of any child that he fathers.
It's the right thing to do. Women should not be treated as second-class citizens.
Probably the most eloquent spokeswoman on the subject has been Shauna R. Prewitt, a Chicago attorney, who wrote "Giving Birth to a 'Rapist's Child': A Discussion and Analysis of the Limited Legal Protections Afforded to Women Who Become Mothers Through Rape." In the Georgetown Law Journal, Prewitt tells of being raped at age 21 during her final year of college:
"I have dissected that moment -- the horrifying moment that I became a 'victim' -- from every possible angle. I have poked and prodded, examined and re-examined. Regrettably, I have even suspected myself in a desperate, ultimately futile attempt to understand how I became a victim.
"But blaming myself was neither my idea nor my first inclination. I thought such 17th-century notions were long dead. I was wrong. People who did not even know me were quick to comment or speculate on my rape. What were you wearing? Did you scream loudly? Did this occur in public?
"As my history lesson said, I found myself on trial, facing the most fierce judge and jury: ignorance.