A new law would protect rape victims from a custody battle with their rapists when a child is conceived.
The Michigan Senate unanimously passed legislation this week that would allow courts to terminate a rapist's parental rights to a child conceived by the rape of the mother.
Senate Bill 629 was introduced by Republican Sen. Rick Jones earlier this month.
"I want to ensure that victims of rape are not faced with a custody battle from their rapist," Jones said.
Current state law allows a court to terminate parental rights once a rapist is criminally convicted.
SB 629 would allow courts to terminate all rights upon the victim petitioning before a family court judge, requiring a lower burden of proof.
"Sometimes it's an acquaintance rape, they don't wish to bring charges and put the person in prison; sometimes the victim simply doesn't want to go through the criminal trial," Jones said.
Jones says that he has heard from domestic violence groups regarding the issue.
"I've actually heard of horrible cases where the rapist contacted the victim after they heard that a child had been conceived and said: 'Get an abortion, and if you don't, I will be going for custody,'" he said.
After spending 31 years in law enforcement, Jones says he has seen the ramifications that rape has on the victim.
"I certainly cannot imagine a rapist being able to continue to harass the victim, or have custody of a child conceived in that act," he said.
The bill now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.
-- Paulette Parker, Michigan Radio Newsroom