Rapists Can Still Seek Parental Rights in Maryland, Thanks to a Group of All-Male Lawmakers

A group of entirely male lawmakers in Maryland’s General Assembly failed to pass a bill —for the ninth time — that would have protected women from having to share parental rights with her rapist.

The Rape Survivor Family Protection Act sought to allow courts to terminate the parental rights of someone convicted of or “found to have committed” rape, which resulted in a child. Basically, rapists would lose parental rights over children conceived during rape. This is the most commonsense law to protect women and children, which must be why it didn’t pass.

Because two slightly different versions of the bill were submitted to the state House and Senate respectively, a committee was created on the last day of the session to finalize the bill. No women were on the committee and the bill failed to pass.

This is the second time the bill has failed to pass on the last day of the session.

Senator Cheryl Kagan said that despite great respect for her colleagues, the decision not to appoint any women to the committee was “tone-deaf.” (Irresponsible, negligent and sexist seem like apt descriptors, too.)

Senator Bobby Zirkin cited a printing issue as the reason for the failure. Maybe one thing we can all agree on is that the excuse college freshman pull out when they’re too irresponsible to complete a major assignment on time isn’t good enough to explain why women and children are still being forced to interact with rapists.

Rather than “printing issues,” Lisae Jordan, executive director of the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault, says the real issue may be Sen. Zirkin’s continued “opposition to the fundamental idea of the bill” and the roadblocks he puts in the way.

Despite GOP claims that “the female body has ways to shut that whole thing down,” studies suggest between 7,750-12,500 pregnancies result from rape each year, and about 38 percent of these pregnancies are carried to term.

Most states have at least some protections for women who become pregnant as a result of rape, but seven—including Maryland—do not. Eight other states only passed such laws in 2016.

Even the basic protections in some states may not be enough. Twenty states and Washington, D.C. require a rape conviction before parental rights can be terminated, and any victim who’s tried to pursue a conviction can tell you how difficult they are to get.

Rapists know these loopholes and use them to their advantage. Jamie Melendez raped and impregnated a 14-year-old in 2009 and was sentenced to probation and to pay child support. He demanded visitation rights of the child (his, not the one he raped) and said he would stop seeking visitation if he no longer had to pay child support.

In another case, a woman tried to place a child up for adoption and had to get permission from the father, who was awaiting trial for raping her. He agreed to the adoption only if she would drop charges against him.

According to Salon, “rape victims are often forced to consult with their assailants on matters such as schools, summer camps and religious practices, and also to share custody.”

There is certainly room for states with these laws to improve them, but to have no protections for women whatsoever is just cruel.

Failing nine times to pass such a commonsense law isn’t just incompetent, it’s an inhumane disregard for the safety of women and children.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

101 comments

Marie W
Marie Wabout a year ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla1 years ago

Rapers should not have any right, they should be punished/jailed/ (that is being merciful) and/or killed.

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ANA MARIJA R
ANA MARIJA R1 years ago

????????????????????????!!!

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Telica R
Telica R1 years ago

Thanks for sharing

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Amanda M
Amanda M1 years ago

Rapists don't deserve parental rights-they deserve to be NEUTERED! This just allows the rapists to harass and stalk their victims all over again, and for as long as the kid is under 18! I can't believe the lawmakers in my state (I live in Maryland) can be this ass-backwards about such an important issue for women! But then again, since our state still has a law on the books that says atheists are not allowed to run for public office BECAUSE they are atheists (an attempt to repeal it was put forth last year, but tabled and actually SCOFFED at by officials in my county who said "there wasn't a need for the repeal" for some BS reason), I'm not too surprised. Despite Hogan keeping funding for Planned Parenthood and expanded Medicaid on the books, it's still not a truly equal state for women or non-Christians.

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Ruth S
Ruth S1 years ago

Why would anyone give rapists those rights??

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Ruth S
Ruth S1 years ago

Are you kidding me??? Thanks.

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Carl R
Carl R1 years ago

thanks!!!

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Will Rogers
Will Rogers1 years ago

USA! USA! USA! USA! Best darnsonnit cuntry in thar world! Apple pie, blood and guts, war war war, guns. No individual rights unless you're a middle aged white man, because god is a middle aged white man named Charlton who ascended to that position when they took his gun from his cold dead hands.

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Jennifer H
Jennifer H1 years ago

Disgusting Maryland. You really stepped in it but then again, it was males in an anti-women society. Take away womens abortion rights and force her deal with her rapist. Yep. 1950s again.

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