(Feature): Can rape victims have the right to abortion in U.S.?
January 29, 2013 10:11 am
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 29 — It still remains a question whether rape victims in the United States have the right to abortion.
The issue was refreshed when New Mexico State Representative Cathrynn Brown, a Republican, introduced a bill last week that classified abortions for rape victims as "tampering with evidence, " effectively requiring women to carry their pregnancies to term in order to prove their case in a sexual assault trial.
Under HB 206, a bill introduced by Brown, if a woman ended her pregnancy after being raped, both she and her doctor would be charged with a felony punishable by up to 3 years in state prison.
Introducing of the bill sounds ridiculous, and Brown herself felt the strong sense of indignation from many American women and that forced the state legislator to amend the bill to make it less offensive.
This bill is unlikely to pass the state legislature, as Democrats control both chambers of New Mexico's state legislature, but there are plenty of other state laws in the U.S. that extend the nightmare for women who are impregnated through rape.
Statistics show that 26 states in the U.S. require a waiting period, usually 24 hours, for women seeking abortions, only Utah makes an exception for cases of rape or incest.
Pregnant rape victims in some states must also undergo counseling about the negative effects of abortion before having the procedure.
But if a woman who conceives through rape does go on to have the child, more likely she would be victimized by her rapist again and again.
Statistics show that in 31 states, paternal rapists are allowed to sue for custody and visitation rights like any other father, as in the case of a Chicago woman who was served with custody papers from her rapist.
It is reported that of the 19 states that have laws addressing the custody of rape-conceived children, 13 require proof of conviction in order to waive the rapist's parental rights.
Two more states have provisions on the issue that only apply if the victim is a minor or, in one of those cases, a stepchild or adopted child of the rapist.
Another three states don't have laws that deal with custody of a rapist's child specifically, but do restrict the parental rights of a father or mother who sexually abused the other parent.
Such government interference in a woman's right to choose has met with strong opposition from the public. John Seychel wrote on the www.huffingtonpost.com website: "We the People, need the government to stop making choices for our female citizens."
"A fetus is not a person, but is part of a female reproductive system, and should be their decision what they want to do with their body," Seychel wrote.
He stressed that "under no circumstances should a government make personal and private situation their own."
"The bill turns victims of rape and incest, who have just been through a horrible sexual assault, into felons and forces them to become incubators of evidence for the state," ProgressNow New Mexico executive director Pat Davis said in a statement.
"According to Republican philosophy, victims who are ' legitimately raped' will now have to carry the fetus to term in order to prove their case," said Davis.
Despite the strong opposition to the Brown bill, pro-life and religious groups still back the idea.
Frank A. Pavone, "Priests for Life" International director, said in a statement that in rape, the trauma is "Someone hurt me." In abortion, the trauma is "I hurt and killed someone else — my child." That brings even more grief.
"Why is rape wrong? Because someone attacks the body of an innocent person. Why is abortion wrong? Because someone attacks the body of an innocent person. That is why both rape and abortion should be rejected," Pavone said.vAccording to a HuffPost/YouGov poll late last year, the vast majority of Americans believe abortion should be legal in cases of rape or incest and when the life or health of the mother is at risk.
According to the survey, at least 70 percent of respondents support keeping abortion legal for all of the three scenarios. In the individual cases, 74 percent said abortion should be legal in cases where the mother's life is endangered by pregnancy, 70 percent said it should be legal when the mother's health is endangered, and 74 percent said it should be legal when a woman becomes pregnant as a result of rape or incest. (PNA/Xinhua)