Senate committee passes Jones bill to block a rapist’s paternity action

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones to allow a mother to prevent her rapist from being legally acknowledged as the father of a child who is a result of the rape.

“It turns my stomach just to think that a rapist who conceives a child in a rape would seek access to that child,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “The goal of this legislation is to ensure that a rapist will not be recognized as the father of a child resulting from his criminal act and will have no say concerning the child’s upbringing.”

Legislation enacted in 2012 to give biological fathers more rights to their children included a reform to provide certain people, such as an alleged biological father of a child born to a married woman, a chance to be acknowledged as the child’s father.

Senate Bill 858 would make an exception in the law for a situation where a child was conceived as a result of rape or criminal sexual conduct and the biological father then seeks to be acknowledged as the father.

Under the bill, a mother who provides clear and convincing evidence that a child was conceived as a result of a rape can bring an action to revoke an acknowledgement of parentage of an alleged father.

“Parental rights can already be terminated after conviction of rape. However, for a variety of reasons, women often don’t press charges,” Jones said. “This bill would ensure that a rapist would not have access to his victim’s child by allowing his parental claims to be blocked using the ‘clear and convincing evidence’ standard — similar to other reasons for losing parental rights, like domestic abuse.”

SB 858 now heads to the full Senate for consideration.