Delegate Kathleen Dumais

Democrat, Maryland House of Delegates District 15

Rape and rights

Rape and rights | Baltimore Sun Editorial

One of the most shameful moments in last year’s Maryland General Assembly’s session was the untimely death of legislation providing women the opportunity to ask a court to terminate the parenting rights of someone who fathered a child through rape. It was a last-minute, time-ran-out moment that suggested the legislature’s reputation for indifference to women’s rights was not off the mark. Can’t remember the circumstances? That can be forgiven considering that it was the ninth time lawmakers have killed that bill; now is not the year to make it 10.

Three months ago, the General Assembly’s presiding officers promised that the bill would pass this year, and they have indeed made it a top priority. The House give preliminary approval to the measure Tuesday, the same day the Senate gave final approval to its version, 45-0 — but not without controversy. There was a failed attempt last Friday in the Senate to amend the bill to allow mothers and children to continue receiving alimony even after a rapist has lost his parental rights. While such a provision is a fine idea, the alteration might well have put the legislation right back in the kind of roadblock that has prevented its passage so often in the past.

 

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