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Pennsylvania House of Representatives
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House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: October 2, 2019 10:23 AM
From: Representative Kerry A. Benninghoff
To: All House members
Subject: Protecting Victims of Rape and their Children
Imagine surviving the violent crime of rape and then learning you are pregnant. Imagine making the brave decision to have the child. Imagine working to provide a loving and stable home for your child, only to learn that the person who raped you is now seeking contact with your child and has the legal right to do so. When you ask the courts to terminate the parental rights of the offender, on the grounds that he raped you, you are denied. Why? Because the courts require you to have someone else lined up to adopt your child in place of the offender. Not only are you forced to relive the trauma of your sexual assault, you are denied the right to raise that child on your own and are forced to prove there is another person in your life with an intention to adopt your child.

If you haven’t already shuddered at just the thought of that terrible scenario, get ready to. Because that exact scenario is current law in Pennsylvania. A loophole in Pennsylvania’s Adoption Act undermines the safety and well-being of victims, their children, and families throughout the Commonwealth, and we need to change it now.

Pennsylvania’s archaic and harmful requirement that a victim of rape present a “replacement” adoptive parent for their child is out of date, causes unnecessary pain and trauma to victims of sexual violence, and prevents those victims from taking rightful steps to protect themselves and their families.

This law must be fixed. As long as it remains on the books in Pennsylvania, we are endangering victims and their children who deserve protection. Please join me in cosponsoring this important legislation

Introduced as HB1984