Senator Randy Vulakovich is introducing legislation that will strengthen the rights of rape victims who have conceived a child as a result of the rape.
Under his proposed Rape Survivor Child Custody and Support Act, courts could 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 measure maintains an offender’s obligation to pay child support even if parental rights are terminated by court order.
State Representative Joe Hackett (R-Delaware) is introducing the Rape Survivor Child Custody and Support Act in the House of Representatives.
Currently, Pennsylvania law only allows for the termination of parental rights of convicted rapists pending adoption. Furthermore, if the parental rights of the offender are terminated, the obligation to pay child support is also terminated.
“As it stands, if a victim of rape decides to keep a child that was conceived as a result of the rape, she could be forced under state law to interact with the perpetrator on a regular basis if he demands his visitation rights,” said Senator Vulakovich, a former municipal police officer and a member of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. “In essence, she would be repeatedly subjected to enduring the pain and reliving the trauma that the criminal inflicted on her. That is not fair and that is not right. The legislation being introduced by Representative Hackett and myself would correct that situation.”
An estimated 33,000 victims become pregnant as a result of rape nationwide annually. The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape strongly supports the measures being introduced by Senator Vulakovich and Representative Hackett.
“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,” Senator Vulakovich said. “I am calling on my colleagues to support this legislation to protect the emotional and physical safety of rape survivors and their children.”