Rep. Doglio’s rape survivor protection bill wins House approval - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Rep. Doglio’s rape survivor protection bill wins House approval

Posted: Updated:

02/28/17 UPDATE:

OLYMPIA, WA - Washington state lawmakers are a step closer to protecting rape victims who get pregnant by their attackers.

Rape is one of the most under-reported crimes in the U.S. One study shows more than 30,000 rape victims get pregnant. Some women choose to have an abortion, but there are also victims that decide to have the baby. And believe it or not, rapists have parental rights here in Washington.

However, yesterday, House lawmakers passed HB 1543. The legislation would create a court process to restrict parental rights of a rapist, order a rapist to pay child support and other costs of the mother, and change state law so a rapist's consent is not required if the child is put up for adoption.

The bill had nearly unanimous support. Only Republicans David Taylor and Bruce Chandler voted no. Reporter Veronica Padilla called both of their offices today to ask them why, but Taylor's office said he wasn't available and wouldn't be putting out a statement about it, and Chandler's assistant said Chandler was in and out of meetings all day and wasn't able to get back to her.

HB 1543 is now being considered by state senators.

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OLYMPIA, WA – Women who become pregnant from a sexual assault will face fewer legal barriers to terminate the rapist’s parental rights if a bill approved on Monday by the House of Representatives becomes law.

HB 1543, sponsored by Rep. Beth Doglio (D-Olympia) would close a current gap in state law that forces some mothers to co-parent a child that was conceived from a rape.

“Women who become pregnant face tremendous legal challenges when trying to terminate the parental rights of their rapist,” said Doglio, speaking in support of the bill on the House floor. “No woman should ever be forced to co-parent with their rapist.”

About one in three women in Washington experience a sexual assault in their lifetime, according to the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs. The vast majority of rapes are underreported and under prosecuted. The current legal process for terminating the parental rights of a rapist can be impossible for some women to navigate, which forces many rape survivors to co-parent their child with their attacker.

Rachel Gropper from Franklin County told her story to the House Judiciary committee. Rachel was drugged and raped when she was 18.

“I had a sexual assault protection order before a parenting plan,” said Gropper. “I am now forced to co-parent with the man who raped me and it’s very unfair.”

Rep. Doglio’s bill would create a court process that provides rape survivors with a legal pathway to terminate or restrict the rapist’s parental rights by presenting clear and convincing evidence that the pregnancy was a result of the rape.

The bill was approved by the House of Representatives by a vote of 94-2 The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

HB 1543 is Doglio’s second bill to win approval by the full House. Her first House-approved bill, SHB 1738, will help protect Washington’s salmon habitats from toxic copper particles that end up on roadways from automobile brake pads.

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