Stripping parental rights from rapists could be special session topic, Maryland senate president says

Erin Cox
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said Tuesday that if a special session of the General Assembly is convened, the legislature should take up a bill that would strip parental rights from rapists.

The likelihood of that special session is unclear, but the Senate's top Democrat on Tuesday introduced a new wrinkle to its agenda.

In the final hours of this year's session, lawmakers failed to pass a bill that would have let rape victims who become pregnant during the assault terminate parental rights of their alleged attackers. It was the ninth year the bill died, and the panel that failed to reach a compromise consisted of five men, including three who had sponsored the proposal.

It was one of two controversial bills close to passage that ultimately failed to advance at the end of the annual 90-day session last week. The other would have expanded the medical marijuana industry to specifically include minority-owned firms, and the Legislative Black Caucus has demanded the governor and presiding officers recall lawmakers to Annapolis to pass it.

On Tuesday, Miller acknowledged that no conversations have taken place to reach a deal on calling a special session. Miller and House Speaker Michael E. Busch remain divided on whether the medical marijuana expansion should automatically award licenses to two specific companies.

"We haven't talked about it," Miller told reporters after a bill signing in Annapolis.

But Miller said that if a special session is called, he wants to revisit the proposed law about parental rights of alleged rapists.

Maryland is one of 16 states that do not have a law allowing rape victims who conceive a child to terminate the rights of their assailant. The proposed law in Maryland would permit such a termination in cases without a criminal rape conviction.

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