Maine Law Extends Parental Rights To Rapists
In Maine and 30 other states women who give birth as a result of rape must petition the courts to deny parental rights to the biological father, even if he has been convicted of sexual assault. The court may or may not approve the request. (See Maine statute 19-A MRSA §1658).
Thus a woman who chooses or is forced by law to bear a rapist’s child, thinking justice has been done once her attacker has been convicted, now goes on trial and may find herself legally chained to her assailant for at least 18 years because he has rights as a father.
The Republican solution? On the one hand they oppose abortion even in cases of rape, but offer no remedies for the legal or financial hardships their policies would impose on rape victims and the children they would be forced to bear.
On the other hand, if one is to believe Todd Akin, it doesn’t happen anyway since a woman’s body miraculously shuts down to prevent pregnancy due to “legitimate rape.”
But happen it does. In 2010 there were between 207,000 and 270,000 women raped in the U.S. according to the United Nations and the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. Of these, approximately 32,000 resulted in the victim becoming pregnant.
Since 1976, federal law has prohibited federal funding for abortions through Medicaid except in cases of rape, incest, or to save a mother’s life. But recently Republicans in Congress introduced legislation to limit that exception to “forcible rape” and to ban use of any tax benefit (such as a private Health Savings Account) for an abortion.
And just to drive the point home, the GOP platform voted on in Tampa states “the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed,” declares support for a Human Life amendment to the constitution and supports extending 14th amendment protections for life and property to “unborn children.”
The same Republicans who want to narrow the definition of rape and force women to bear unwanted children have cut funding for Head Start and other early childhood support programs. They would also repeal the Affordable Care Act which offers preventive care and health screenings for mothers and babies.
There is a clear choice for women in this election. Quoting President Obama’s response to Akin’s comment: “Rape is rape . . . the idea that we should be parsing and . . . qualifying what types of rape . . . doesn’t make sense. What I think these comments do underscore is why we shouldn’t have a bunch of politicians, most of whom are men, making healthcare decisions on behalf of women.”