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Rapists Can Still Seek Parental Rights In These States

Activists say even if a state passes a law that lets rape survivors revoke an assailant’s parental rights, there are still concerns.

By Melissa Prax | February 6, 2018

A handful of states in the U.S. don't have laws to prevent rapists from getting parental rights. That means an assailant could have custody or visiting hours of a child conceived by rape.

But after years of debating, Maryland is on the brink of passing legislation that would let survivors revoke an assailant's parental rights.

Maryland's Senate passed the bill at the end of January. The House is also expected to pass it, and the governor has already committed to signing it.

If Maryland's bill passes, a woman could use it by proving she was raped with "clear and convincing evidence." That's a method some other states use. But some laws can be more complicated.

In several states, an assailant must first be convicted before a survivor can revoke parental rights. But keep in mind few assaults are prosecuted.

A handful of other states with this kind of law in place have other complicated caveats or exceptions.

So even if a law passes, activists say it's not an automatic win for rape survivors — but it might help some survivors and keep children out of harm.