(INDIANAPOLIS) - Rapists would lose their parental rights under a bill making progress at the Statehouse.
An estimated 750 babies are born each year in Indiana as a result of rape and, like most states, those rapists have the same parental rights as other fathers, Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney reported.
Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, has authored a bill that would prevent men who are convicted of rape from getting custody or having contact with the child conceived as a result of the crime.
Charbonneau said he got the idea after meeting a woman at a Valparaiso University Law School seminar who was raped and opted to keep the child.
"The rapist was going through the criminal process to harass her. He was taking legal proceedings to get their parental rights to the child, which created havoc, as you can imagine," he said.
The Indiana Coalition Against Sexual Assault supports the bill.
"(The court system is) another way the rapist can ultimately have power and control over the victim," said organization CEO Anita Carpenter. "(The bill) provides an opportunity for women to say, 'This is my child, and I don't want to have a relationship with a rapist.'"
But some defense lawyers are skeptical of the legislation and its potential implications.
"I think this legislation is a complete fraud," said attorney Bob Hammerle, who stressed that women should be able to choose whether or not a child's father should have contact.
He also takes issue with a part of the bill that provides an exception if the parents were married at the time of the rape.
"Whether they're married or not or separated or not, to try to protect the rapist because they have had some marriage somebody's trying to end and haven't done it yet, they're going to protect the rapist under those set of circumstances," Hammerle argued.
The bill also states that a person who is denied their parental rights cannot be asked to pay child support.
Charbonneau said he hopes the bill will provide an incentive to women to continue with a pregnancy after rape rather than having an abortion.
The bill has passed out of the Senate and has a hearing before the House Judiciary committee Monday.
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