Legislation that would require rapists to pay child support, even when their parental rights have been terminated, is headed to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
House Bill 836 won unanimous approval Tuesday in the House Judiciary Committee.
Majority Chairman Ron Marsico (R-Dauphin) said courts currently are authorized to terminate the parental rights of an individual who conceived a child as a result of a rape, but if parental rights are terminated the perpetrator is no longer required to financially support the child.
Also, if the court does not terminate the parental rights, the perpetrator could request visitation rights or custody of the child.
The bill is sponsored by Rep. Michael Schlossberg (D-Lehigh).
"No woman should ever be in a position where she is forced to choose between financial support and having to see her rapist frequently," Schlossberg said.
The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) praised the legislation, saying it's important to act now when it comes to protecting the rights of rape victims and their children.
"If you want to think about it, it's like restitution for a crime," PCAR attorney Diane Moyer said. "I mean, this child would not be here but for a heinous crime being committed against the mom."
Schlossberg said he's confident the bill will make it out of the House and onto the Senate in a timely manner.
"This is common sense," he said. "Nobody could possibly oppose legislation like this."