All-Male Panel Determines the Fate of Women Who Become Pregnant as a Result of Rape
The Maryland General Assembly made national news
this week, and not in a good way. The Rape Survivor Family Protection Act would have created a process to terminate the rights of a rapist when their victim became pregnant as a result of rape. The House and Senate versions of the bill passed both chambers of the Maryland legislature with differences that needed to be worked out in a conference committee. The Senate could have moved the bills along anytime after the March 20th cross-over date, and the House could have taken action after a March 30th hearing. Instead, the Chairmen of the judicial committees waited until the very last day of session to appoint conferees and there was not enough time to pass the bills. As a result, rape victims who become pregnant as a result of rape still have no access to a court process to end the rapist's parental rights. Rapists can interfere with adoption plans and request custody and visitation. Press accounts, including the The Daily Beast
article, have noted that there were no women on the six person committee charged with addressing a bill on rape and pregnancy. MCASA's Executive Director and Counsel, Lisae C Jordan, noted that several of the panel members were long time supporters of the bill, including Senator Will Smith, and Delegates David Moon and Brett Wilson. "Some of the legislators on the committee unquestionably care about rape survivors and co-sponsored the bills. At the same time, the committee would have benefited from including women legislators." Senator Cheryl Kagan, who watched the all male conference work, has described the failure to include women as "tone-deaf." This was the ninth time Delegate Kathleen Dumais has introduced this bill into the Maryland legislature.
This fight is far from over. MCASA will continue to advocate on behalf of survivors and support the Rape Survivor Family Protection Act