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Legislation Filed to Address Rape Custody Issues
Women who produce children as a result of rape would not be obligated to share parental rights with their rapist under legislation filed Tuesday in the Kentucky House. Kentucky, along with 34 other states, allows rapists to take their victims to court and seek these rights. Rep. Dennis Keene, who is sponsoring the bill, called the allowance a "loophole in Kentucky law." "I've got two daughters," said Keene, a Democrat from Wilder. "I wouldn't want any human being to go through that."
Keene said the issue was brought to his attention during a call from with a constituent. After filing House Bill 204, Keene said that he expects no opposition to the bill in the House Judiciary Committee.A 2010 study from the Georgetown Law Journal estimated that "of the estimated 12 percent of adult women in the United States that have experienced at least one rape in their lifetime, 4.7 percent of these rapes result in pregnancy." It is also estimated that between 25,000 and 32,000 women become pregnant each year as a result of rape. House Bill 204 states that “any person who has been convicted of rape in the first degree in which the victim of that rape has conceived and delivered a child shall not be entitled to parental or visitation rights,” according to a release from Keene's office earlier in the week. Some would like to see the broader protections in the bill. Kenton Commonwealth Attorney Rob Sanders and Marsha Croxton, executive director of the Women’s Crisis Center, have both spoken publicly about the measure and want the bill expanded to cover other rape victims, such as those of second and third degree rape and incest. Other states which do not bar rapists from seeking custody rights are: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.