People convicted of certain sex crimes will have their parental rights terminated as part of a new law in the state of Alabama.
According to the Washington Post, lawmakers amended Jessi’s Law, which ends the parental rights of people who sexually assault their own children, and narrows a loophole that would allow rapists to seek custody of children conceived through an assault.
Questions surrounding the parental rights of rapists sparked in Alabama after lawmakers passed the most restrictive abortion bill in the country, which outlawed the medical procedure even in cases of rape or incest.
However, there are still some issues, as the law applies only to cases where there is a conviction of first-degree rape, first-degree sodomy and/or incest.
Activists don’t think that this goes far enough, given that many assaults aren’t even reported in the first place.
Instead, activists argue that judges should end parental rights once there is “clear and convincing evidence” that an assault occurred, which is a standard used in many other states.
“We need to mandate judges in family-law matters to immediately suspend any legal or physical custody or parenting time if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the child was conceived in rape,” Rebecca Kiessling, an anti-abortion family attorney who was conceived during rape, told the Post.
The ironically sad part of this is that lawmakers didn’t even want to make that exception, per the report by the Post.
They actually meant to make Jessi’s Law even stricter.
The Post reports:
Senate Judiciary Chairman Cam Ward (R) said that his committee had a much narrower intention for the additional sentence, which was inserted only “to make sure an actual conviction occurred before parental rights were removed” in a Jessi’s Law situation.
“Looking back at the language,” he said, “it appears that the substitute went much further by actually allowing for the removal of parental rights in any case of rape, incest and sodomy.”
But at least for now, victims in Alabama have a little more protection, and lawmakers in both chambers approved the amended bill.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed the bill on June 10, and the law is set to take effect on Sept. 1.