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?

13 thoughts on “If Castro forced Knight to give birth 5x, another kind of hell

    • Hi SarahJesness,

      Right now, I think not. But I believe all these issues should be reframed as reproductive rights, and that the abortion issue should be reframed as human rights versus fetal rights.


  1. I agree with you. Is there anything we can do besides agreeing to this? can our voice of disagreement get to the newspapers and the lawyers and these poor women, who will have to live the rest of their lives remembering the terror they lived through?

  2. I didn’t comment on your previous post on this because I thought it would just be a given that I would be with you on this, but now I think I need to say it. This is exactly what I thought when I heard that this charge was being considered. It’s an insult to the women who have been so horribly harmed here, to treat them as if the abuse done to them is not enough.

  3. I’m with you all the way Margot. I can’t believe this guy is prosecuted more for what is basically abortion by the public than because he tortured these poor women. What the hell. You give me hope in humanity, even if it’s a very faint hope.

    • He beat her, assaulted her, raped her, starved her, and the legal system is focusing on the fetus. It’s sick and bad for all women.

  4. You are echoing my own thoughts.

    When I heard they would consider murder charges, my heart sank. I thought, “they are completely missing the point and have diminished the lives of these women.”

    • Yes, and also missing the lessons to protect women in the future. Misguided and sad. But maybe they’ll get it…


  5. Thank you for your comments. I keep thinking what a different world this would be if legal systems respected and recognized reproductive rights.


  6. “Reproductive rights are human rights.” This cannot be emphasized enough, ever.
    When, when, when will actual living women and children matter as much as unborn fetuses?

    I stand in solidarity with you.

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