The parental rights of sex offenders should be automatically terminated, a new petition on Change.org states, targeting a Maryland law in particular that would allow rapists parental rights if their victims get pregnant.
“If you are raped in Maryland, your rapist has full parental rights if you get pregnant,” the petition begins, adding that a woman “shouldn’t have to relive the experience again by dealing with her assailant in long drawn out custody battles or forced visitations.”
“This is unthinkable and it needs to be changed,” the petition’s author, Jaron Hightower-Mills, writes.
The petition is already over halfway to its goal of 5,000 signatures in spite of just having launched, but already there are some who say it’s a goal with noble intent but prone to abuse.
“If you’re going to pass a law like this, you better make sure that the burden of proof for sexual assault is thoroughly met or it could be prone to abuse where legitimate fathers get pushed out of their children’s lives,” wrote one Facebook commenter.
Hightower-Mills seems to understand this in the verbiage. While researching the petition, he notes that 29 other states have similar laws in place which grant parental rights to rapists.
The Maryland Senate, he notes, has tried to pass laws like the one he is thinking of in the past, but “each time it dies in the House and fails to become law.”
“If a raped woman decides to give birth to a child conceived through sexual violence, her assailant shouldn’t have the legally sanctioned right to harass her with motions in court for visitation, custody, and other forms of family involvement. This is just common sense.”
While it would be difficult to find someone that disagrees with the above statement, it’s considerably easier to find commenters who oppose such laws due to the fear of abuse.
But what do you think, readers? Does a petition like this one do any good in the sense that it identifies a problem without offering a real solution? Would you be worried about how such a law might lead to abuse?
What stipulations do you feel should be in place in order to terminate the parental rights of someone accused of rape? Sound off in the comments section.