The Maryland State House in Annapolis. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)
In the past nine sessions of the Maryland General Assembly, Del. Kathleen Dumais (D-Montgomery) has sponsored a bill that would allow a person who conceived a child as a result of rape to petition the court to terminate the parental rights of their attacker.
After failing nine times, it was proposed again this session as the Rape Survivor Family Protection Act. The bill has finally passed both the House and Senate, and Gov. Larry Hogan has pledged to sign it into law.
Legislators considered these protections so urgent that the legislation was marked as an emergency bill, meaning that it will become effective upon enactment. Despite previous controversy over the lack of a required child support provision and a lower burden of proof, passing this bill is the right move.
Allowing victims of rape to terminate parental rights is crucial to provide for the safety and comfort of both parents and children. Post-birth interactions and harassment from the attacker can be more easily prevented if that person does not legally hold parental rights.
Adoption becomes easier, and the victim is never forced to face their attacker in court, which can cause more undue trauma. In passing this act, Maryland will become one of about 30 states to have legislation that allows for the severing of parental rights in cases of rape.