Alabama, which just recently passed a strict law banning abortion even for victims of rape and incest, still doesn’t have a law banning rapists from getting custody of their victims’ children.
According to The Washington Post, Alabama is just one of two states (the other being Minnesota) where there are no laws on the books blocking rapists from having parental rights in the event a child is conceived as a result of rape. But unlike Minnesota, Alabama also now has a law banning rape victims from getting abortions. This makes Alabama the only state in the country where a woman could be raped, impregnated, forced to have the child, and then possibly have to surrender custody of that child to their rapist.
“It’s just . . . unfair and even dangerous to these mothers and children,” Alabama state senator Vivian Figures (D), who voted against Alabama’s abortion ban, told the Post.
However, one opponent of legislating terminating parental rights for rapists is Ned Holstein, who chairs the National Parents Organization — which the Post describes as an organization that advocates for shared parental rights following divorce. Holstein said he would be against any law terminating parental rights, as courts could potentially be “denying the child a fit parent forever and putting her into the sole custody of a ruthless parent who is willing to fabricate a heinous accusation.”
“[T]here is merit on both sides of this issue, and we have no position on it, either way,” Holstein added.
Prior to 2019, there were multiple states with no laws on the books terminating custody rights for rapists. Maryland had no such law on the books for years. However, Governor Larry Hogan (R) signed a bill into law in 2018 banning anyone from having parental rights if there is “clear and convincing evidence” that the mother was raped, even if the alleged attacker hasn’t been formally convicted of rape. Wyoming passed similar legislation in March of this year. However, an attacker has to be convicted of sexual assault before losing custody rights. In April, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum (R) signed legislation terminating parental rights for convicted rapists.
In addition to Alabama, other states have passed similar laws banning abortion, some with no exceptions for victims of rape and incest. However, abortion bans remain wildly unpopular with the vast majority of Americans, even in states that have passed them.
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.