Women's Health

Rapists still have parental rights in Maryland after all-male panel fails to pass new law

Thanks to the fact that a panel of six men couldn’t finalize the details of a piece of legislation meant to do away with an archaic and perverse law, the state of Maryland will continue to require that rape victims who get pregnant by their attackers will have to share parental rights.

Long story short, in Maryland, women impregnated by their rapists are required to negotiate over custody rights, and even have to seek out their permission if the baby is put up for adoption.

From The Huffington Post:

Maryland is one of seven states where that remains the case, along with North Dakota, Wyoming, New Mexico, Mississippi, Alabama and Minnesota, according to CNN. In many other states, an assault conviction is required to block an attacker’s parental rights.

This is the ninth time such legislation has been proposed ― and failed to become law ― in Maryland, The Washington Post reports. That is true despite broad support from groups typically at odds with each other, including Planned Parenthood and Maryland Right To Life.

The negotiating committee tasked with finalizing certain details of the Rape Survivor Protection Act did not include any female lawmakers and was comprised entirely of men.

“Some of the legislators on the committee unquestionably care about rape survivors and co-sponsored the bills,” Lisae C. Jordan, executive director and counsel for the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault, which lobbied on behalf of the bill, said in a statement. “At the same time, the committee would have benefited from including women legislators.”

Speaking to the Baltimore Sun, one of the negotiators claimed that the reason the bill didn’t pass was because “the print shop in the State House literally couldn’t print the bill fast enough to get it to the House and Senate floor.”

“It is embarrassing that Maryland remains one of seven states without this legal relief afforded to rape survivors,” Diana Philip, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland, told The Huffington Post.

“Year after year, the bill is introduced with both crime victim rights and civil liberties issues addressed. The strategy has been to allow members of the House Judiciary and Senate Judicial Proceeding Committees to make any necessary clarifications that would be in the best interests of all Marylanders. But after a decade, the protections in the bill get watered down and concessions are made without any final result.”

Lawmakers are reportedly planning to give the bill another go in 2018.

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