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Victims could strip rapists of parental rights under Ohio bill

Ohio family law judges encourage former couples to work together to raise children, even when Columbus parents no longer want to be with one another. A parent with physical child custody provides the home where children reside, with visitation privileges accorded to the non-custodial parent. Legal custody gives a parent decision-making power over the children's welfare.

Senate Bill 207 recently shifted to the Ohio House following full Senate approval. The legislation would change current state law, which does not prevent a convicted rapist from exercising parental rights when a child is born of a sexual assault. The legal measure would allow rape victims to ask courts to revoke the attacker's rights, including input on whether a child is placed for adoption.

Ohio could become the 20th state to enact a law empowering rape survivors who, otherwise, might have to maintain a legal connection to the people who harmed them. The issue was highlighted following the case of Ariel Castro, who fathered a child with one of three women he kidnapped, confined and sexually abused over a decade in Cleveland. A court denied Castro's request to visit with his daughter, a 6-year-old girl conceived by rape.

Current research is thin on the number of children conceived by rape in the U.S., although a 1996 study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology estimated more than 32,000 pregnancies occurred nationwide each year as a result of rape. Conception occurred in about five percent of all rapes among more than 4,000 women studied. Nearly one-third chose to keep their babies.

Physical and legal custody can be shared or restricted to one parent. Non-custodial parents frequently have an equal say in how a child is brought up, even though the time they spend with children is limited. When a parent's influence is harmful to a child, judges may restrict terms of visitation or, in extreme cases, revoke parental rights.

Source: Stow Sentry, "State considers allowing rape victims to revoke parental rights of attackers" Marc Kovac, Jun. 06, 2014

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