Should Rapists Get Child Visitation Rights?

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Tara Murtha is depressing me:

So what about Pennsylvania? It turns out that Pennsylvania recently became one of the states to add rape as a valid disqualification for parental rights.

From the code: “The rights of a parent in regard to a child may be terminated after a petition filed on any of the following grounds” and includes No. 7: “The parent is the father of a child conceived as a result of a rape or incest.”

How progressive! The catch, however, is that the man must be actually be convicted of the rape. And even then, according to Diane Moyer, legislative director of Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR), a crazy judge could award some rights to him, such as visitation, supervised or not.

“You have to remember involuntary termination only occurs pending adoption,” Moyer says. “If there’s placement or adoption proceedings, his parental rights can be involuntarily terminated.”

So in other words, the rights of a biological father—whether he has been convicted of raping the mother or not—aren’t necessary completely terminated unless another person is adopting that child.

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