Iowa Republican Blocks Bill Terminating Parental Rights Of Convicted Rapists
Fun fact! In 17 U.S. states, if you are raped and become pregnant–even if your rapist is convicted and goes to jail, he can still claim parental rights. Like, you have to see him regularly and allow him visitation with the child, and all the other things that come with it. You could literally spend years battling it out in the court system with your rapist–and this is not at all an unheard of thing. Many rapists use parental rights as a way to revictimize the women they raped over and over and over again. There have also been cases where rapists use the threat of seeking parental rights to get victims to drop charges against them.
Iowa is one of those states. Right now, victims advocates are pushing for a bill that would automatically sever the parental rights of convicted rapists. One would assume that this would be a law pretty much anyone, on any side of the aisle, could get behind.
But, as usual, one would be wrong.
The bill is currently being blocked by State Rep. Chip Baltimore (R-What Else, Really?), who insists it is nothing but a “feel good” bill.
I’m going to say yeah, it is a “feel good” bill–in that most human beings would, indeed, feel better knowing that women who are raped would not have to deal with their rapist seeking parental rights. Shocking, I know!
Via Globe Gazette:
Rep. Chip Baltimore, R-Boone, is chairman of the Iowa House’s Judiciary Committee, through which these bills must pass. Baltimore said he thinks the proposals are well-intentioned but unnecessary.
Baltimore said he worries about writing a new law that casts a wide net to catch a small number of incidents. He said that could create unintended consequences, such as a young man being convicted of statutory rape then losing parental rights even though the couple remain together.
“It’s a feel-good piece of legislation that quite honestly is dissociated with reality in the real world with the way the criminal justice system and the judicial system work,” Baltimore said.
“It’s a far more complicated situation, honestly, than most people acknowledge. I get the general concept. I understand the general concept. But it’s a concept that needs a lot more work,” Baltimore said. “As well-intentioned as (the bills) may be based on, we set public policy for a broader set of facts.”
Baltimore also said he thinks the judicial process is adequate to deal with these cases.
While Rep. Baltimore is trying to spin it like we’re talking about a high school Senior impregnating his Sophomore girlfriend and then having his parental rights terminated against the wishes of both parties, it is important to note here that there are Romeo and Juliet laws! In Iowa! While 16 is the official age of consent, as long as you are less than four years older than the teenager you are having sex with, you can’t be convicted of statutory rape. That’s a pretty reasonable margin. Second, if that is your big worry, then make it so it is the woman’s decision whether or not to allow her statutory rapist parental rights. There, problem solved! Argue for that, not to throw the completely reasonable law baby out with the bathwater.
Unsurprisingly, Rep. Baltimore has a fairly sketchy history when it comes to these kinds of issues. Earlier this month, he also opposed several bills meant to strengthen laws regarding domestic violence, sexual abuse, and police training on human trafficking. He’s made it pretty clear where he stands, and who he stands with. Hint, it’s not women or victims of abuse.
[h/t Raw Story]