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23 August 2012 at 12:55 BST

Rape victim lawyer lashes out at 'pro-life' senate candidate

America's legal profession continues to obsess over a senatorial candidate's controversial comments on rape and abortion, with a lawyer blogger from a top global white shoe law firm lashing out in an open letter to the politician.

Jefferson City: Missouri state capital

Jefferson City: Missouri state capital

Shauna Prewitt – a two-year-qualified litigation associate at the Chicago office of New York-based Skadden, and herself a rape victim -- wrote an open letter to Missouri congressman Todd Akin following his suggestions that women rarely become pregnant as a result of ‘legitimate rape’.


The open letter – published initially on women’s lifestyle web site xojane – Ms Prewitt relates the story of her attack while at law school at Washington’s Georgetown University. The rape resulted in pregnancy and the birth of a daughter.
Following the birth, the attacker applied for access to the child, which was ultimately denied. However, the traumatic experience spurred Ms Prewitt to author a study, published two years ago, of the law across US jurisdictions on parental access rights for men who father children through rape. She was shocked to discover that 31 US states allow access rights to rapists that are similar to those afforded to other fathers.

Inflammatory statements

In the open letter to the congressman, Ms Prewitt writes: ‘Rep Akin, your statement poses another setback to the cause that I have fought passionately for since my life changed for ever when I was raped and became pregnant from that rape at 21. But your statement has not landed on deaf ears or weak legs. My rape did not end my life and, in a profound way, I have become a stronger person after my rape. I will fight to extinguish your inflammatory statements just as ardently as I fought to reclaim a vibrant life. I hope you will find my concerns “legitimate”.’
According to a report on the AmLaw Daily web site, the national Republican Party has reacted to the political storm by saying it will not provide financial support to Mr Akin’s bid to unseat the Democrat incumbent in Missouri. The site quotes Mr Akin as describing his critics as being part of the ‘liberal elite’ attacking a ‘pro-life conservative’.


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