In Alabama, Rapists Have Parental Rights To Children Born Of Rape
According to The Washington Post, Alabama currently has no law terminating parental rights for a person who conceived the child through rape or incest. Lack of such a law could compound the effects of the state's newly passed abortion ban, which outlaws abortion even in the case of rape and incest.
Some anti-abortion activists support laws that take away rapists’ parental rights because they believe it might encourage mothers to keep their babies rather than abort them. However, states vary greatly on the standards used to determine whether a parent is granted custody of the child, even amid allegations of rape.
More than half of states enacted laws terminating parental rights in the case of rape after Congress passed the 2015 Rape Survivor Child Custody Act, which allocated additional funding for sexual assault victims in cases where there was “clear and convincing evidence” that the child was conceived through rape.
Some opponents of these laws, however, argue that this standard could contribute to false rape claims during divorce proceedings, for example. Whether states include such parental rights laws could affect thousands of parents and children, since the estimated number of rape-related pregnancies in the country is between 7,750 and 32,000.
While Alabama’s new abortion ban is being challenged in courts, access to abortion could still be limited, which would potentially force rape victims to give birth to children conceived by rape, thus forcing them to co-parent with their rapists.