Friday, June 14, 2019

In Alabama, Rapists' Fatherhood Rights Rule

Alabama's extreme forced-birth bill is not the only Tealiban*-type move there against the awful possibility that women might have some rights.  Alabama is also one of the two remaining states (Minnesota being the other) where rapists' fatherhood rights are strong. 

Take the case of Jessica Stalling: 

She has stated that her mother's half-brother began climbing into her bed when she was twelve or thirteen**.  By the age of eighteen or nineteen she had been pregnant four times and was the mother of two living children.  Her family forced her to marry her "uncle Lennie."  The marriage was later declared invalid because of the close familiar connection.

But now "uncle Lennie" has gone to court and won visitation rights to her two remaining children.

The National Parents Organization   (which smells to me like a National Fathers Rights Organization, a sub-type of men's rights organizations) would support "uncle Lennie's" visitation rights, given that it seems to support rapists' general fatherhood rights:
Ned Holstein, board chair for the National Parents Organization, which advocates for shared parenting after divorce, said that allowing family courts to sever parental rights based on rape accusations is “an open invitation to fraud.”
“Taking a person’s child away is a grievous act,” he said. “And if it is done to an innocent parent, you are also denying the child a fit parent forever and putting her into the sole custody of a ruthless parent who is willing to fabricate a heinous accusation.”
Even if a person is convicted of rape, “there is merit on both sides of this issue, and we have no position on it, either way,” he said of his organization.

Bolds are mine.


Let's take a step back and think of what the combination of Alabama's new abortion bill and the strong rapists' fatherhood rights in Alabama mean, for an Alabaman woman who is raped and then finds herself pregnant from that rape:

Suppose she does the "right" thing*** and reports the crime to the police immediately.  Suppose that the police actually pursue her case (not that likely in many all cases).  Suppose that the case actually goes to court (even less likely).  Suppose— and here the odds are getting very small indeed — that the court then finds the rapist guilty and sentences him.

He still has the right to sue for visitation rights and even for custody.

She, however, has been not only raped, but also forced, by the state, to accept the medical risks of pregnancy and of giving birth for a child nobody asked if she wanted in the first place.  And then she might be forced to have to have the rapist in her life for another eighteen years.

I would call that extended state-approved torture.

But Ned Holstein finds merit on both sides of the issue.

It's salutary to think about how the forced-birth (and men's rights) organizations justify their arguments:  Because women might lie about having been raped, rape victims cannot have abortions.  Because women might lie about having been raped, rapists must have fatherhood rights.

Yes, of course some women lie, just as men do.  But notice how important that fear looks here?  Because some women might lie, all women who become pregnant from rape must be sentenced to extended torture.

* This is something I stole from the net.  It combines the Tea Party with the Taliban, because they both share in the desire to put very tight leashes on all women for presumed religious reasons.

** Different articles quote slightly different ages here, but they differ at most by a year.

***  Many women don't report rapes at all, given that getting justice from the justice system is unlikely.  Most rapes have no outside witnesses;  police, at least in the past, often discounts the validity of rape reports, and should the case go to court the experience for the rape survivor is likely to be very traumatizing.