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Hastings Law Journal

Abstract

About one in six women in the United States will be a victim of rape. For many of these women, the rape does not end there—this crime against their body will result in an unplanned pregnancy. In recent years, rape awareness has increased both in the government and among the public: a new federal definition of rape encompasses a broader spectrum of victims and pregnancy resulting from rape was splashed across national headlines. But this is not enough. Most states lack sufficient legal protections for a pregnant rape victim: criminal prosecutions and convictions for rape are rare, and many states lack an efficient means through which a victim could terminate her rapist’s parental rights over the child. This Note illuminates this legislative omissions by discussing the current statutory schemes in effect and illustrates how judicial applications of these statutes leave many victims and their children without sufficient legal processes. To resolve this inadequacy, this Note suggests changes to the parental rights termination statutes, particularly concerning pregnancies resulting from rape, to create a more predictable outcome and protect the choices a rape victim must make.

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