Gut Check: Making simple sense out of life
By Lenore Skomal Erie Times-News staff blogger
Lenore Skomal is an award-winning author and veteran journalist in all forms of media. She is a weekly columnist and daily blogger for the Erie Times-News. She’s authored 17 published books, including an anthology of her columns, Burnt Toast available on her website www.lenoreskomal.net.   Read more about this blog.
Posted: May 7th, 2013
Should rapists have custody rights?

In Pennsylvania, there is legislation in the pipeline to close a loophole, which ostensibly forces a rape victim who decides to keep her child from having to choose between child support and no contact with her attacker. The way it stands now, the law reads that a rape victim can terminate the custodial rights of the rapist father, but the child support would also be terminated if she chooses that action. It’s part of a state law that allows a parent to petition for involuntary termination of parental rights in several cases.

The sense in this is obvious, but you might be surprised to hear that as strange as it sounds that such a loophole exists, Pennsylvania is still in the minority when it comes to states that actually have legislation in place to protect the rights of rape victims. It’s one of only 13 states that allows the involuntary termination of a rapist father’s parental rights.

Although 26 states allow rape victims to place their children for adoption without the father’s consent, 31 states have no laws allowing them to terminate the father’s parental rights if the victim keeps the child.

And if you think the number of women who choose to keep their babies is low, think again.

Or better yet, read Shauna Prewitt’s Georgetown Law Journal article, “Giving Birth to a Rapist’s Child.

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