AL Doesn’t End Parental Rights in Rape Cases

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Alabama is one of two states with no law terminating parental rights for a person found to have conceived the child by rape or incest, a fact that has gained new relevance since its lawmakers adopted the nation’s strictest abortion ban in May. While the Alabama abortion law has been challenged in court, abortion rights activists fear it could reduce access to the procedure, forcing rape victims to bear children and co-parent with their attackers, the Washington Post reports. Besides Alabama, only Minnesota has no law terminating parental rights in rape cases.

Many states adopted such statutes after Congress passed the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act in 2015, granting additional funding to help sexual assault victims in states that allow courts to end parental rights when there is “clear and convincing evidence” that a child was conceived by rape. More than half of the 50 states use the “clear and convincing evidence” standard, says the National Conference of State Legislatures.  using Justice Department data. Nearly half of states require a rape conviction to terminate parental rights. Several others allow either standard. Activists argue that the conviction standard is too high, given that three out of four rapes in the U.S., according to an analysis by the nonprofit advocacy group Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.

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