Alabama: Where You Can Be Forced to Give Birth After Being Raped and Maybe Have to Parent the Child With Your Rapist

 Protesters rally against one of the nation’s most restrictive bans on abortions on May 19, 2019, in Montgomery, Ala.
Protesters rally against one of the nation’s most restrictive bans on abortions on May 19, 2019, in Montgomery, Ala.
Photo: Julie Bennett (Getty)

What is up with these Southern states when it comes to women’s rights? (And as a proud New Yorker with deep roots in the Tar Heel State, aka North Cackalacky, aka North Carolina, where it’s perfectly legal to continue having sex with someone who told them to stop, I think I am well within my rights to ask.)


So, if it weren’t bad enough that Alabama has virtually outlawed all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest, it is also one of only two states where rapists can maintain their parental rights.

You understood that correctly: In Alabama, a man can rape a woman and then demand to co-parent any child that results, the Washington Post reports. 

That Alabama has no law stripping rapists of parental rights isn’t new, according to the Post, but the fact is ironic in the extreme given that Alabama just recently decided to outlaw abortions in cases of rape. (Minnesota is the second state with no such law, and as CBS has reported, abortion rights are under attack there as well.)

So, let’s connect all the dots: If you’re a woman and you are raped in Alabama, not only will you have to carry any resulting child to term (unless some “serious” illness crops up), you also may be forced by a judge to parent that child with input from the predator who raped you.

Got it.

Supporters of the existing rape-a-woman-get-to-parent environment say automatically taking away a rapist’s right to parent would give rise to false claims of rape by bitter women who just don’t like their baby daddy.


“Taking a person’s child away is a grievous act,” Ned Holstein of the National Parents Organization told the Post. “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.”

However, Holstein’s group also isn’t necessarily trying to take away parental rights even if a man actually has been convicted of rape, telling the Post:

Even if a person is convicted of rape, “there is merit on both sides of this issue, and we have no position on it, either way,” he said of his organization.


Alabama also makes no exceptions for abortions in cases of incest, and the Post chronicled the harrowing tale of a woman who was raped and impregnated multiple times by her mother’s half-brother over several years of incestuous abuse beginning when she was just 12 years old.

The uncle took the now-grown woman to court, demanding his rights to be a parent to two boys born as a result of his crime against the woman.


“It’s sickening,” the woman told the Post. “I’ve spent my entire life scared to death of my rapist, and now, I’m fighting him for custody of my children.”

The man could not be reached for comment, and his attorneys would not discuss the case, the Post reports.


There is an effort afoot to change things in this arena, with even some anti-abortion activists in Alabama saying that rapists being allowed parental rights needs to be outlawed. As the Post reports:

Some antiabortion activists have been at the forefront of efforts to pass such laws [to end rapists’ parental rights]. Rebecca Kiessling, an antiabortion family attorney who was conceived by rape, said the laws protect women who choose to keep their pregnancies.

“Maybe they wouldn’t abort or give the child up for adoption if they knew they were protected,” she said.


Alabama state Sen. Vivian Figures, a Democrat who voted against Alabama’s virtual abortion ban, told the Post she plans to put forth legislation to make rapists with parental rights no longer a thing.

“It’s just . . . unfair and even dangerous to these mothers and children,” Figures told the Post.


National Parents Organization

“Men’s rights activists by any other name still smell like shit.”

-William Shakespeare, 1596