Senate panel OKs Jones bill to end rapists’ parental rights

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones to allow a court to terminate a rapist’s parental rights to a child who is a result of the person’s rape of the mother.

“This is about ensuring that if someone is raped and a child in conceived in that rape, the rapist does not get any custody rights,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge.

Senate Bill 629 would allow a court to terminate a person’s parental rights to a child if that child had been conceived as a result of the person’s criminal sexual conduct.

Under the bill, the court could terminate the parental rights to a child if the parent had been convicted of sexual assault or found by clear and convincing evidence during a fact-finding hearing to have sexually assaulted the mother and that the rape resulted in the child being conceived.

Jones said that the parental rights can already be terminated after conviction of rape, but SB 629 would allow the rights to be terminated upon “clear and convincing evidence,” similar to other reasons for losing parental rights, such as domestic abuse.

“Rape is not about sex; it’s about power,” Jones said. “Rapists often continue to assert their power over their victim when they learn about the pregnancy — sometimes demanding that the woman get an abortion. Whether before or after the child’s birth, a rapist should have no say concerning the health and well-being of a child resulting from his criminal act.”

SB 629 now heads to the full Senate for consideration.