|Posted:||February 6, 2015 03:18 PM|
|From:||Senator Randy Vulakovich|
|To:||All Senate members|
|Subject:||Rape Survivor Child Custody and Support Act|
|In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation to address an issue faced by victims of rape who have become pregnant as a result of the rape. Currently, Pennsylvania law only allows for the termination of parental rights of convicted rapists pending adoption. As it stands, if a victim of rape chooses to keep the child conceived as a result of the rape, she could be forced to interact with the perpetrator on a regular basis through visitation. In addition, if a victim chooses to prosecute her abuser and retain parental rights of the child, the abuser could threaten to pursue custody or visitation with the child if the victim does not drop the charges. Furthermore, if the parental rights of the offender are terminated, the obligation to pay child support is also terminated.
With the support of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, the legislation would allow the courts to terminate the parental rights of a convicted rapist, thereby eliminating the abuser’s access to full, partial, or supervised custody of a child conceived by rape. The victim has the opportunity to object to the termination of rights should she wish to stay in contact with the child’s biological father. This bill would also maintain an offender’s obligation to pay child support even if parental rights are terminated.
Annually an estimated 33,000 victims become pregnant as a result of rape nationwide. Victims simply should not be forced to share custody or allow visitation of their child with the perpetrator, nor should they be required to forego child support in order to protect their children and themselves.
Rep. Joe Hackett (Delaware) is introducing companion legislation in the House.
Please join me in sponsoring this legislation. Should you have any questions please contact Charlie O’Neill in my office at 717-787-6538.
Introduced as SB663