Yesterday I wrote about SB2185.
The legislation, introduced by Senator JoNell Bakke (D-Grand Forks), would allow courts to terminate the parental rights of a rapist to any children their crimes may have produced. Which, to my mind, makes it something of a pro-life bill. If you’re against abortion, even in instances of rape, you should support a law which protects rape victims from having to co-parent with their attackers.
But in the House Judiciary Committee the bill was amended, adding a section which does not allow the courts to terminate parental rights in instances of marital rape.
I now have audio of that committee hearing, which my colleague John Hageman first reported on yesterday, and it’s pretty revealing stuff.
As you can hear the amendment was brought to the committee by its chairman, Rep. Kim Koppelman (R-West Fargo), though he told me yesterday he had nothing to do with it. Also, the committee discussion reveals that the explicit intent here was to make it harder for marital rape victims to terminate the association with their spouses.
“This is a favorable amendment because this does say that no matter where they’re at in that pendulum as long as they’re married it’s going to be more difficult to sever that parent’s association,” is a thing Rep. Terry Jones (R-New Town) actually said during the discussion.
Listen for yourself:
There was a voice vote to approve the amendment. I can hear one female voice voting against it, and I’m not sure who it was. I’m checking into that.
You can see a full list of the committee members here. You can hear a roll call for how each voted on the overall bill at the end of the audio above.
To be sure, this is a very narrow set of circumstances. I can’t imagine that many people stay married to their rapists post conviction. And even if this bill, as amended, passes the courts would still have other factors to consider when it comes to terminating parental rights in an instance of a pregnancy resulting from marital rape.
The problem is that these lawmakers are carving out an exemption for marital rape in the law, as if that kind of rape were somehow a lesser sort of infraction than just plain old rape.