California residents may not know that approximately 33 percent of rape victims will carry a resulting child to term. What may be dismaying is that many rapists still have rights over the child. This means that a woman who keeps the child may have to endure years of harassment and intimidation, which could her from being able to recover from the rape itself.

In some states, including California, the rapist’s rights can be terminated if he is convicted. However, it is estimated that only about 20 percent of all rapes are reported; about 5 percent of the reported rapes result in a conviction. In May, the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act was passed by Congress, which allows money to be given to states that pass laws that allow mothers to have rapists’ rights terminated if there is “clear and convincing” evidence. However, this only applies to few states.

There are some problems with this act. First, family courts, where these cases would take place, are already clogged as it is. Second, not all cases of rape are the same. For example, a person who had sex with a minor may still be willing to take responsibilities as a father. Finally, children who are born from rape do not have a voice or representation.

When a child is born following a rape, a parental rights dispute can follow if the person responsible for the rape wants to have visitation or even custody. A family law attorney might assist a mother in this regard by demonstrating that it would be detrimental to the child if the rapist was granted access.

Source: RAINN.org, “Termination of Rapists’ Parental Rights Laws“, Oct. 12, 2015