Democratic Senator Proposes Law to End the Parental Rights of Rapists in Maryland

rape and parental rights

Republicans continue to show us just how inept and barbaric they are.  No matter how many courses on how to talk to women they take, leave it to a Republican to pontificate on the “beauty” of rape.  One could argue that they are slowly evolving in the sense that at least they are ready to acknowledge the biological fact that women can get pregnant as a result of rape.

Currently, Maryland and 30 other states afford rapists full parental rights under the law.

Sponsored by Senator James Raskin,  The Rape Survivor Family Protection Act, will bring an end to the nightmare that too many women (5% of rape victims of child bearing age) and their child are forced to endure in the name of protecting a rapist’s parental rights. The proposed bill has 29 co-sponsors.

As The Cecil Daily points out, a previous bill like this one passed through the Senate in the 2013 and 2014 sessions.  However, the House of Delegates versions died in the House Judiciary Committee without being voted on. Let’s hope for the rape survivors and their children in Maryland, this time the bill becomes law.

The bill requires a court hearing with 20 days of the mother’s request to terminate the parental rights of her alleged rapist.

There is a concession to those who fail to recognize that rape is NOT just another method of conception in that the law applies the “clear and convincing” evidence standard.  That means rape victims will have to apply the same standards that are used in other cases that seek to terminate parental rights.

In other words, for the purpose of terminating a rapist’s parental rights, there is no distinction between rapists and parents who conceived a child together with the consent of the other parent.

Of course, that still doesn’t go far enough for the “rape is just another method of conception” crowd.

The government relations director for the public defender’s office claimed: ”Both the standard of proof and the standard of evidence that’s being proposed by this bill is less than what is required in our criminal justice system.”

Well yeah, perhaps because the criminal justice standard isn’t applied in other parental termination cases, including the majority that involve crimes like child abuse and child neglect.  To suggest that there must be a criminal justice standard in this instance, in fact, calls for a higher standard of proof to terminate the parental rights of a rapist than a parent who is alleged to have committed a different crime.

The suggestion that women seeking to terminate the parental rights of her rapist should have to meet a higher standard than other cases of parental termination involving alleged criminal acts is another consequence of rape culture.

Rape is the only crime in which the victim is put on trial, which in part, explains why relatively few rapes are reported. Moreover, rape is the only crime in which the victim is all too often made to feel guilty or ashamed for being victimized, while the criminal is defended.  In fact, rape is the only crime in which the victim faces outright hostility from third parties under the illusion that SHE ruined HIS life. It’s the only crime where there is a presumption by some (most notably in the Republican Party) that the victim lied or somehow deserved it.  It’s the one crime that the Party of “law and order” not only persists in claiming that it isn’t “really” a crime but goes on to reward the crime by recognizing the rapist as a parent with all the rights (but none of the responsibilities) that entails.

When a rape results in pregnancy, rape is also the only crime in which it is possible for the criminal to blackmail their victim into not reporting the crime. Think Progress wrote about Shauna Prewitt’s experience in this regard back in 2013.

Prewitt was speaking from personal experience. She made headlines last year when she wrote an open letter to Todd Akin — who became infamous during the 2012 election cycle for claiming that women cannot be impregnated from a “legitimate rape” — about becoming pregnant after being raped. As she pursued charges against her rapist months later, he suddenly filed for custody rights over her daughter, sending her into a long and expensive court battle.

Prewitt when on to study law and write a paper on the subject for the Georgetown Law Journal in which she describes the life sentence that rape survivors and their child endures when, under the law, rape is treated as just another method of conception.

The reality is that rape is a crime.  Almost 5% of rape victims who are of child bearing years get pregnant as a result of rape.  These survivors of rape and their children deserve better than having forced legal ties to a violent criminal.  They shouldn’t have to meet higher standards than victims of other crimes be it within the criminal justice system or when seeking to terminate parental rights when the crime in question is rape.

12 Replies to “Democratic Senator Proposes Law to End the Parental Rights of Rapists in Maryland”

  1. I can’t wait for the patronizing Republicans that vote against it to justify their vote by claiming that god has a plan to make the rapist a better person for helping to raise a child…

  2. But God and patriotism and she deserved it or wanted it, or seduced him, and he just wants to be a part of his child’s life even though he is a criminal who abuses women. What could go wrong? These laws are sick. Bad enough we are forced to carry the child of a criminal, but to make it a life sentence for the victims too?

  3. I look forward to the first case where a woman is stripped of her child because it was conceived with a minor… and to watch all those who support this bill suddenly turn about face and freak out about doing such a thing to a woman, and that if she’s done her time, she shouldn’t be stripped of her child.

    Oh, I forgot, women don’t get charged with rape… if they get charged at all, they’re always given a lessor sentence.

    I’m also curious if this law would strip a rapist of his financial responsibilities to the child? Or would it literally create a new class of lifetime indentured servitude?

  4. Wow! The fact that there is a debate about whether a rapist should have parental rights over a child born out of his violent actions is absurd. How could anyone think this is ok? Oh, that’s right. There are some who think the rape victim should have no choice in whether or not she ends a pregnancy from rape. It boggles the mind.

  5. Your statement makes little sense. While I wouldagree that a woman having sex with a minor is a crime, in this case the minor would have to be a somewhat willing partner. Still a crime on the woman’s part and punishable under the law. Now here’s the part that gets sticky. Would the minor sue to have the parental rights of the woman negated or would the minor’s parents have to do this? Could the minor take parental custody of the child or would the minor’s parents have to do that? Regardless, how does this make it ok for a rapist to force his victim to allow him visitation rights or the right to force her to even give birth to the child?

  6. Since God raped Mary, does that mean he doesn’t get visitation rights to Jesus on every other weekend ?

    This is the type of crap that keeps me up at night.

  7. Great post!

    The TP/GOPs will say ANYTHING to abdicate their responsibilities, as representatives, to their constituents and to society in general.

    They only care about authoritarianism, turning this country to a right-wing fascist state and, of course, collect their pay for worshiping at the altar of greed.

    Money and power are their gods!

  8. Rape is a violent act perpetrated upon any individual without their consent! A male can also be raped! I can’t imagine trying to raise achild borne of violence. Every time I looked at this infant I would see the face of the person who FORCED himself upon me. Should I choose to carrythis child I would never want to look at his face ,,,a reminder, everytime of the violence forced upon me. Parental rights is sick……….but child support should be mandatory for EIGHTEEN YEARS<

  9. This law essentially allows a woman to bc strip a man of parental rights based on a mere allegation of rape. This is absolute insanity.

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