Alabama is one of two states which has no statue terminating parental rights for people who have conceived a child by rape or incest.
Rape Crisis advocate Portia Shepherd recalled a shocking incident when a young girl arrived at the Family Services of North Alabama office to seek help. She narrated a traumatic incident about her step-uncle who raped her when she was just 15. Now, he was getting out of jail following a drug conviction and wanted to be a part of the child's life he had with her. Unlike other states, the alleged rapist could get custody in the state of Alabama reported The Washington Post.
When a young woman came to the Family Services of North Alabama office last year for help with trauma, saying she had been raped by her step-uncle when she was 15, rape crisis advocate Portia Shepherd heard something that “killed me, shocked me.”— Mc Coyfish. (@McCoyMandujano) June 9, 2019
"It’s the craziest thing I ever heard in my life," said Shephard revealing how appalled she was about the system's laws. "On the state level, people were shocked. How could Alabama even be missing this law?" Apparently, Alabama and one other state have no statute terminating parental rights for people who have conceived a child by rape or incest. This fact remained unknown by several critics who recently discovered this fact after the state adopted the nation's strictest abortion ban in May.
Rape survivor fighting rapist for custody of child in Alabama https://t.co/4Bd20vqW7F— The Independent (@Independent) June 11, 2019
The Alabama abortion ban strictly prohibits any abortion procedure for everyone, including the victims of rape and incest. What's more? It also threatens to criminally prosecute a doctor performing this procedure unless the mother's health is at serious risk. Alabama abortion rights activists have been alarmed by the restricted amount of access these women will be granted to get an abortion which would, in turn, force them to raise a baby with the attacker or at least share the kid's custody. The activists have since challenged this law in court.
The Alabama lawmakers considered a bill last month that was directed towards the termination of any parental rights in cases of rape that resulted in conception, but all the legislation did was to change the language and limit this law to cases in which people sexually assaulted their children. According to State Sen. Vivian Figures and the other lawmakers opined that the removed language could have excluded boys who were victims of sexual assault as they could not get pregnant.
“Do you know what it’s like to be raped? Do you know what it’s like to have a relative commit incest on you?” Alabama State Sen. Vivian Davis Figures grilled her GOP counterpart as the Alabama Senate passed a near-total abortion ban. https://t.co/L8bY9wCOoo pic.twitter.com/HdkeTJ73li— CNN (@CNN) May 15, 2019
Speaking about the existing law that allows victims to share custody of the child with their attackers, Figures confessed that she didn't know about a lack of statute which prevented rapists from getting custody of their children. She also informed the outlet of her plan to introduce a bill in the upcoming legislative session. The State Senate who also voted against the state’s abortion ban said, "It’s just flat out ugly, unfair and even dangerous to these mothers and children."
Alabama state Sen. Vivian Figures just tried to add an amendment to a proposed abortion ban that would also criminalize men getting vasectomies.— AJ+ (@ajplus) May 14, 2019
The GOP-controlled Senate voted it down. pic.twitter.com/YC7aKxZGXZ
Several anti-abortion activists have been trying hard to pass laws like this and Rebecca Kiessling is one of them. This anti-abortion family attorney, who herself was conceived by rape expressed the importance of laws protecting women who do choose to continue with their pregnancies. "Maybe they wouldn’t abort or give the child up for adoption if they knew they were protected," she said. However, laws ceasing parental rights in rape cases has created a considerable amount of dispute.
I'm not the rapist's child! I'm the child of a rape victim and I'm a child of God. pic.twitter.com/ZDOjtz8zse— Rebecca Kiessling (@RebeccaKiesslin) June 10, 2019
The board chair for the National Parents Organization, Ned Holstein, promoting the need for shared parenting after divorce said that family courts who facilitated the severing of parental rights based on rape accusations are "an open invitation to fraud." He added, "Taking a person’s child away is a grievous act." He then went on to advocate why these laws shouldn't be passed. "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," he said.
RE Alabama giving parental rights to rapists - Ned holstein board chair from Natn. Parents Organization said "taking a persons child away is a grievous act. Even a person convicted of rape, there is merit on both sides of the issue". THINK ABOUT THAT!— StapleGenius (@staple_genius) June 10, 2019
Speaking about his organization he expressed that even if a person was convicted of rape "there is merit on both sides of this issue, and we have no position on it, either way." Minnesota is the only other state apart from Alabama that currently does not have any laws terminating parental rights in rape cases. Prior to Congress passing the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act in 2015, many states adopted such statutes.
Under Alabama law, it's entirely possible for a woman to get raped, be forced to give birth to the child, and then lose custody of that child to her rapist.https://t.co/hfEHzHcbxJ— Grit Post (@grit_post) June 10, 2019
Moreover, they also granted additional funding in order to assist sexual assault victims within the states and allowed them to terminate parental rights when there is "clear and convincing evidence" that a child was indeed conceived of rape. After a thorough analysis by the National Conference of State Legislatures using the Justice Department data, it was concluded that more than half of the 50 states were using the "clear and convincing evidence" standard.