A controversial bill that would terminate the parental rights of rapists is currently making its way through the Maryland legislature — with those on both sides claiming the need to protect the innocent.

Those in favor of the bill argue that a woman who chooses to raise a child who is the product of a rape should not have to regularly face her attacker or allow that person to have an influence over their child’s life. Their argument is also grounded in the belief that rapists should not be around children and are not fit to be parents. Thirty states have laws that give women the option to terminate a father’s parental rights in these situations.

The bill was approved by the Maryland House of Delegates this March, but it faces opposition. Even the bill’s opponents agree that rape victims should not be forced to make their attacker part of the family. The problem, however, is that the bill does not define a method for determining whether a pregnancy resulted from rape. Most alleged rapes are never reported or prosecuted. While criminal convictions would clearly meet the standard of this law, there is disagreement about how the courts would handle a situation where someone is accused of rape during a custody hearing but never accused or convicted in a criminal court.

The bill’s opponents don’t want women to have to share their children with their rapists; at the same time, they do not want to give women the power to terminate any man’s parental rights by simply alleging rape with no proof or repercussions.

If you are involved in a dispute about paternity, custody or parental rights, contact the dedicated La Plata family law attorneys at Mudd, Mudd & Fitzgerald, P.A.