FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 8, 2016
Sen. Gardner Seeks to Clarify Law Allowing for the Termination of Parental Rights When Child is Conceived Through Rape
JUNEAU – Senator Berta Gardner (D-Anchorage) has proposed legislation to tighten and clarify language in existing law regarding legal abilities of women to terminate parental rights when their child was conceived through rape.
While Alaska’s law states that women have the right to terminate their rapist’s parental rights, the language was placed into a section of the law which deals with adoption. This has created misunderstanding about the law, and erroneous interpretation from some national organizations that believe it to mean that the law only applies in cases of adoption, and others not realizing the law exists at all.
This bill provides clarifying language so that those interpreting our statutes, from both within the state and outside of the state, have no doubt that a person deciding to keep a child that was conceived through rape can sever ties with their rapist in all cases.
Rapists may attempt to pursue parental custody rights in an effort to force rape survivors to have continued interactions with them, which can cause traumatic and adverse psychological effects to women. Unwelcomed interaction with an abuser can interfere with a survivor’s recovery, and a survivor’s ability to raise a healthy child.
“The thought of the rapist having any kind of parental custody rights to a child is almost inconceivable,” said Sen. Gardner, “and yet in 17 states this is actually the case. We want to make absolutely sure that there is no room for misinterpretation about Alaska’s law.”
For more information contact Jeanne Devon, Press Secretary for the Alaska Senate Democratic Caucus, 907-465-5319.