Posted Aug 23, 2012 11:37 am CDT
An associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom is addressing U.S. Rep. Todd Akin’s comments about “legitimate rape” in an open letter that tells of her own rape and pregnancy.
The Am Law Daily reports Shauna Prewitt was a 21-year-old senior at the University of Chicago when she was raped. “I was young, vibrant, confident and excited about a future that had never felt more within my grasp,” Prewitt writes at xojane.com. “In a single, life-altering moment, all of that was stripped away.”
“I do not know if, in your terms, it was ‘legitimate rape,’ “ Prewitt writes. “Yes, I cried hysterically. Yes, I fought until my body ached. And, yes, I changed afterward in ways I could not ever imagine.”
Prewitt used her own case to prove Akin was wrong when he asserted that pregnancies from rape are rare. ““If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” he said, according to a New York Times account of his remarks. Prewitt’s rape resulted in a pregnancy. She did not have an abortion, and did not put the baby up for adoption.
“Just as being raped did not override my body’s natural ability to get pregnant, rape did not altogether override my body’s natural response to being pregnant,” Prewitt wrote. “It was not an overnight decision, nor was it an easy decision, but I ultimately decided to give birth to, and then to raise, the child I conceived through my rape. Neither getting pregnant from my rape nor finding unimaginable joy from raising my daughter during the past 7 years makes me an ‘illegitimate’ rape victim.”
Prewitt’s own experience led to an interest in passing laws to restrict the parental rights of rapists. She is author of an article in the Georgetown Law Journal on the subject. She told the Am Law Daily that the laws in 31 states give men who father children through rape the same visitation rights as other fathers. In her case, the attacker sought custody. “Thankfully I got lucky and his visitation rights were terminated,” she said.