GOPer Demands Bill To Block Rapists’ Parental Rights Exempt Married Rapists

Screengrab/azcentral.com and The Arizona Republic/YouTube

JakeThomas

State Sen. Eddie Farnsworth demanded that a bill to block parental rights for rapists protect rapists who are married.

A bill in Arizona that would have given parents conceived of rape the ability to terminate the parental rights of the rapist without requiring a conviction was pulled after a Republican state lawmaker insisted it include an exception for rape within marriage.

The Phoenix New Times reported that Arizona state Senator Victoria Steele (D-Tuscon) decided to pull her legislation after Republican Senator Eddie Farnsworth of Gilbert demanded “an amendment to exempt married victims who are raped by their spouses."

"Today I made an extremely difficult decision: I pulled my bill SB 1355 that would allow a parent of a child conceived because of rape to terminate the parental rights of their rapist," Steele said in a statement posted to Twitter. "I was forced to pull my bill because the committee chairman held my bill hostage with the demand that I allow an amendment to exempt married victims who are raped by their spouses."

Steele’s bill was set to be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

Presently, Arizona only allows parental rights of the rapist to be terminated if the rape results in a conviction, the New Times reported — but most rapes are not even reported.

Steele’s bill “would have permitted victims to present their case to terminate the rights of the rapist to civil court, which would require ‘clear and convincing evidence’ the child was conceived by sexual assault before making the decision to terminate a parent's rights.”

"It would have allowed them to show testimonies of witnesses, any hospital records, counseling records, anything like that,” she told the New Times.

“It’s a really important bill,” Steele continued. "I had this woman who had been raped — she was going to testify at today's committee. She had been raped, and she decided when she became pregnant as a result she was going to keep the baby. But her rapist came back and sued her for custody."

“The father has rights, even if that father is a rapist,” she said. “And the current law in Arizona is if someone has been convicted of rape they can have their parental rights repealed or terminated."

While Farnsworth indicated support for her bill, there was one sticking point she said he told her she would not like.

"'I don't think someone who's been married, and has children, should be able to cry rape,'" Steele claims Farnsworth said. "'I would want an amendment... Not only do I want an amendment, I'm not gonna run it, you are, because I'll just get attacked. You have to amend your own bill to take married people out.'"

Steele said she considered amending the bill as Farnsworth demanded, just to get it through the committee and with the hope of fixing it down the road, but stakeholders and colleagues convinced her it was a bad idea.

She said others told her: "'He won't put this amendment on it himself because he knows people will be livid. He wants you to take the fall.'"

Steele said pulling the bill was difficult, particularly as she had to tell the woman prepared to testify before the committee, who had waited years to tell her story.

"It doesn't matter if your rapist is someone you're married to, work with, or a stranger," the lawmaker said. "It's cruel. It's unconscionable."

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