If Castro forced Knight to give birth 5x, another kind of hell

A couple days ago, shocked that psychopath Ariel Castro might be charged with murder, I posted on Reel Girl: Focus on the torture and rape of 3 women, not fetuses

Here’s what I wrote:

Multiple news sources are reporting that prosecutors may seek the death penalty against Ariel Castro, bringing aggravated murder charges in connection with 5 pregnancies that he terminated by starving and punching Michelle Knight. A murder charge would be a terrible mistake in bringing Castro to justice. Castro raped and tortured three women. Isn’t that evil enough? That the prosecution would shift the focus to fetuses to bring the worst charges against Castro mitigates the value of the lives of these women and sickens me.

The only way to stop the epidemic of violence against women in America is to empower them financially, physically, socially, culturally. Charging Castro with murder of fetuses does the opposite. If Castro can be charged with murdering fetuses, than a woman getting an abortion, even if that woman was raped Michelle Knight herself, she, too, would be “murdering” fetuses. Castro tortured, raped, and assaulted these women in multiple, horrific ways. Keep the focus on the women, not the fetuses, and bring Ariel Castro to justice for his evil crimes.

Since that post, I have been unliked, unfollowed, and only further convinced that prosecuting Castro for murder is the wrong crime and fails to do justice to these women. There’s a post on Slate with a similar argument: “Should Ariel Castro Be Prosecuted for Fetal Homicide? Maybe. But we should focus on the harm he did to the women he’s accused of abducting.” Writer Emily Bazelon argues:

I still think, though, that there would be something very strange about executing Castro for the harm he did to fetuses, as opposed to the harm he did to three living and breathing women.

And what if Castro had allowed the fetuses to live? What if Michelle Knight had been forced to give birth 5 times in captivity to babies fathered by a rapist? That would have been its own hell. But would that use, manipulation, and violation of Knight’s body be recognized by our legal system beyond rape charges?

A regime, whether enforced by a government or a madman, that forces women to have abortions is the same regime that can force them to give birth. Reproductive rights are human rights, and violating them ought to carry the severest of penalties. But when will violating the human rights of women be recognized by the U.S. legal system as the heinous crime it truly is?