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Bill would prohibit rapists from getting parental rights

 
Bill would prohibit rapists from getting parental rights
Posted Tuesday, March 25th 2014 @ 5pm  by WTVN Newsroom

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN) -- When Ariel Castro made a request to see the daughter he fathered with Amanda Berry it sparked outrage. Some lawmakers decided it was time to close the loophole and introduced bills at the Statehouse to deny men convicted of rape from being allowed to have a relationship with the children they fathered during the crime.

"This is about Amanda Berry and women like Amanda Berry who have been sexually assaulted, who have been raped and then as a result conceived a child," said State Rep. Nickie Antonio, a Lakewood Democrat.

Berry and two other women were held captive in Castro's Cleveland home for a decade before escaping last summer.

The bill, which was passed by the Ohio House unanimously, would strip a rapist of all parental rights, but still force them to pay child support.

“Ohio law currently only allows if there is a conviction of rape or a guilty plea, only allows a woman to then independently make the decision to give her child up for adoption or she still has the ability today to terminate the pregnancy. But this third option of raising the child, she does not have the assurances that she won’t get into a custody battle with her rapist potentially," Antonio said.

The bill has bipartisan support and is backed by both abortion opponents and abortion rights groups.

"I think that we have a good chance of getting this done by the end of May," said State Rep. Kirk Schuring, a Canton Republican that is a co-sponsor of the bill.

There are two similar bills pending in the Senate. They could be merged with the House bill to help speed up the process.

Ohio is one of 33 states with no law prohibiting a rapist from requesting parental rights.

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