The Custody Battles Awaiting Mothers of Children Conceived in Rape
Exceptions in the case of rape used to be considered a necessity in abortion legislation, even within the pro-life movement. But today ten states have no rape exception in their abortion laws, and more will likely consider moving in that direction this year. “I think few people understand how common this scenario actually is,” the contributing writer Eren Orbey, who has reported on the issue, says; according to C.D.C. statistics, nearly three million women have become pregnant as a result of rape. With abortion laws changing, more and more women will be forced to carry these pregnancies to term. In some cases, they’ll find themselves tied to their assailants through the family-court system until their children turn eighteen. “Many states . . . require a conviction for first-degree rape—which is really hard to come by even if there’s a lot of evidence—in order to terminate parental rights,” Lucy Guarnera, a professor of psychiatry and neurobehavioral sciences at the University of Virginia, says. Orbey talks with Guarnera, one of a few researchers who have studied this issue in depth, and with a mother of twins about the challenges of parenthood under these conditions. “The reality is: these exceptions are far less effective than we assume they are,” Orbey says. “They create the false impression that we’re taking care of all rape survivors when we’re not.”
What Exactly Does “Woke” Mean, and How Did It Become so Powerful?
Many on the right blame “wokeness” for all of America’s ills—everything from deadly mass shootings to lower military recruitment. Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, recently signed a so-called Stop WOKE Act into law, and made the issue the center of his midterm victory speech. In Washington, there has been talk in the House of forming an “anti-woke caucus.” “I think ‘woke’ is a very interesting term right now, because I think it’s an unusable word—although it is used all the time—because it doesn’t actually mean anything,” the linguist and lexicographer Tony Thorne, the author of “Dictionary of Contemporary Slang,” tells David Remnick.
Plus, the poet Robin Coste Lewis talks with the staff writer Hilton Als about how suffering a traumatic brian injury led her to a career in poetry. Her most recent book, “To the Realization of Perfect Helplessness,” was published last month.
Michael Schulman on Oscars History, and a Visit with “Annie” Composer Charles Strouse
Despite years of controversy, the Academy Awards and the other awards shows remain must-watch television for many Americans. The awards may be “unreliable as a pure measure of cinematic worth,” Schulman tells David Remnick. “But I would argue that the Oscars are sort of a decoder ring for cultural conflict and where the industry is headed,” Schulman says. “They are a way to understand where pop culture is.” With theatre attendance in continuing decline, the Academy is looking for solutions, Schulman believes, and that could result in a higher-grossing outlier winner for the coveted Best Picture award. Plus, a visit with the Broadway composer Charles Strouse, who is ninety-four and compiling his archives to donate to the Library of Congress. He reflects on his work with Jay-Z and his “friendly enemy” relationship with Stephen Sondheim: “He didn’t like me much. I didn’t like him less.” Still nimble at the piano, Strouse plays a rendition of his classic, “Tomorrow.”
A Local Paper First Sounded the Alarm on George Santos. Nobody Listened.
George Santos is hardly the first scammer elected to office—but his lies, David Remnick says, are “extra.” Most Americans learned of Santos’s extraordinary fabrications from a New York Times report published after the midterm election, but a local newspaper called the North Shore Leader was sounding the alarm months before. The New Yorker staff writer Clare Malone took a trip to Long Island to speak with the Leader’s publisher, Grant Lally, and its managing editor, Maureen Daly, to find out how the story began. “We heard story after story after story about him doing bizarre things,” Lally told her. “He was so well known, at least in the more active political circles, to be a liar, that by early summer he was already being called George Scamtos.” Lally explains how redistricting drama in New York State turned Santos from a “sacrificial” candidate—to whom no one was paying attention—to a front-runner. At the same time, Malone thinks, “the oddly permissive structure that the Republican Party has created for candidates on a gamut of issues” enabled his penchant for fabrication. “[There’s] lots of crazy stuff that’s popped up in politics over the past few years. I think maybe Santos thought, Eh, who’s gonna check?”
Deepti Kapoor Discusses “Age of Vice” with Parul Sehgal
Deepti Kapoor describes New Delhi, the setting of her novel “Age of Vice” as “extremely beautiful, but also violent. . . . It’s a place where you think you’re gonna get cheated and robbed until someone does something incredibly kind and breaks your heart.” The highly anticipated book, published simultaneously in twenty countries this month, is part crime thriller, part family saga centered on a reckless playboy who wants to break away from his mob family; a young man working as a servant to him; and a naïve young journalist. Kapoor, who spent a decade as a journalist herself, tells Parul Sehgal that she wrote the book while living abroad—needing the distance from her country in order to see it more clearly.