Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Schlossberg: Close the Rapist Support Loophole
His most recent proposal will end the current practice of forcing a raped woman who bears a child from having to make an unpleasant choice between receiving child support from the rapist or termination of parental rights.
Schlossberg's legislation would require convicted rapists who father a child to pay child support – even if their parental rights are terminated.
“As unbelievable as it sounds, currently in Pennsylvania, rapists can enjoy parental rights as the result of a loophole in the Domestic Relations Law that strips them of child support obligations if those rights are terminated,” Schlossberg said. “No rape victim should be forced to pick between parental rights and child support – and a rapist should be penalized for his crime, not rewarded with parental rights that may further torment his victim.”
In Pennsylvania, termination of parental rights ends the obligation to support the child. Even when those rights are terminated because the father raped the mother.
“This creates a huge injustice for a woman who may be further traumatized by being forced into maintaining even a cursory relationship with her attacker,” Schlossberg said. “The law should punish the rapist, not the woman who courageously bears a child as a result of such a heinous crime.”
Schlossberg said his bill has been drafted and is being circulated in the House of Representatives for co-sponsors before its formal introduction.
“As a legislator, anything I can do to give rape victims more rights is a step in the right direction,” Schlossberg said. “The legislature can do nothing to make a rape victim whole, but we can certainly do more to eliminate a painful choice between getting help with child-rearing costs or reliving a horrific experience.”
Hopefully, there will be strong bi-partisan support for what is undeniably a good piece of legislation.