Legislation Watch: Restricting Rapist’s Parental Rights

From time to time, this blog will discuss potential changes in the law that may be warranted based on its experiences or reports in the media.

According to the National Conference of State Legislators there are 17,000 to 32,000 pregnancies each year in the United States caused by rape.  California Family Code § 3030(b) prevents anyone convicted of rape from having any parental rights for a child conceived from that rape.

The problem, however, is what happens if the defendants pleads to a lesser charge or even worse was acquitted or never charge.  According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, only 9 out of every 100 rapes are prosecuted and just 5 lead to a felony conviction.

This is a dilemma highlighted on CNN’s This Life with Lisa Ling (a great show).



In addition to California, according to the National Conference of State Legislators, states fall into two categories

  • States that Allow for Termination of Parental Rights: Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin – AND
  • States that Restrict or Prohibit Custody and Visitation: Arkansas, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia.

It would seem expanding the prohibition to include convictions for any assault in connection with the events leading to conception might address the plea bargain issue or simply mandating that an rape plea bargain include a waiver of parental rights.

As far as cases in which a rape charge was not brought, the victim should be allowed to raise this in Family Court and block parental rights if she can prove by a preponderance of the evidence that a rape occurred.


For more information on what your state rules might be consults this link.  To contact your state representative click here.

The National Sexual Assault Hotline is available 24/7:
Telephone: 800-656-HOPE (4673)
Online chat: online.rainn.org
Español: rainn.org/es