This bill hasn’t passed, thank FSM, but the fact that it’s even being seriously discussed is horrible. Illinois state representatives Keith Wheeler and John Caveletto have proposed a measure to financially punish children whose mothers will not—or cannot—name the father on the birth certificate.
If an unmarried mother cannot or refuses to name the child’s father at the time of birth, either: (a) a father must be conclusively established by DNA evidence; or
(b) within 30 days after birth, another family member who will financially provide for the child must be named, in court, on the birth certificate.
If neither condition is met, a birth certificate shall not be issued for the child and the mother will be ineligible for any financial aid provided under the Illinois Public Aid Code for the support of the child.
So in other words, if the police can’t find your rapist and your family is unsupportive, sucks to be you and sucks to be your kid. It doesn’t get much more anti-life than that.
A tip of the hat to the Friendly Atheist for shedding light on this story. Unfortunately, the Friendly Atheist article was written by an abortion supporter who used this as an opportunity to discredit Illinois Right to Life. IRL’s sin was to briefly mention Cavaletto’s co-sponsorship of a completely unrelated piece of legislation. I was unable to reach IRL’s executive director for comment, but a thorough search of IRL’s website gives no indication that it supports this bill.
My friend and prominent pro-life spokeswoman Rebecca Kiessling was conceived in rape and works with Hope After Rape Conception (HARC), which provides aid to survivors and their children. I asked her for a quote about this travesty of a bill. She told me that, sadly, this has come up before. Several of the women HARC has assisted were cut off from receiving state aid because they were unable to name the rapist.
In one instance, the rape survivor mother had been abducted by a pimp in New York City, sold to another pimp because she refused to submit to being trafficked as a prostitute, and then was raped by the second pimp. She managed to escape and months later, she discovered she was pregnant. Because she only knew his street name and could not identify him for a paternity suit, the caseworker chose to cut her off. After several months and working with Kiessling and state legislators, her assistance was reinstated. That was in Michigan, where there’s no uniform policy on how to deal with rape survivor mothers. Kiessling says that besides working to pass laws to provide for the termination of parental rights of rapists, working with legislators to create such guidelines is another important project of HARC.
Kiessling also recounts an Illinois HARC client who pressed charges against her rapist. The rapist sued for custody and said he’d drop the custody case if she would drop the criminal charges. Because Illinois law doesn’t protect mothers in this situation, she had no practical choice but to agree. But when the deal was made, the judge (apparently acting independently, but foreshadowing the proposed bill) refused to approve the settlement unless someone else was on the hook for child support. In the end, the client’s own father agreed to be named on the birth certificate—giving the false appearance of father-daughter incest.
Rape survivors need laws that encourage the provision of resources for their children. Instead, they find just the opposite.
Shame on Rep. Wheeler and shame on Rep. Cavaletto. May this bill die a quick death in committee.