Majority Chairman Ron Marsico (R-Dauphin) said the House Judiciary Committee today approved House Bill 836, which would require perpetrators of rape to financially support any child they fathered as a consequence of rape or incest, even if their parental rights are terminated.
Currently, the courts are authorized to terminate the parental rights of an individual that conceived a child as a consequence of a rape. However, if those parental rights are terminated, the perpetrator will be relieved of his duty to financially support that child. Conversely, if the court does not terminate the parental rights, the perpetrator could request visitation rights or custody of the child.
“As the law currently stands in Pennsylvania, when a woman goes through the traumatic experience of being raped and becoming pregnant as a result of that rape, she has to then also go through the harrowing process of being forced to make the difficult decision of receiving child support from her rapist or terminating her rapist’s parental rights,” said Marsico. “This is outrageous, in my opinion. We need to make it easier for the women who are dealing with this extraordinarily sensitive situation, not more difficult. This legislation helps them do just that.”
In addition to House Bill 836, House Bill 1545 passed unanimously through committee today and would amend the Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act so that public employees and public officials who either enter a guilty plea or are found guilty by a jury will have to forfeit their pensions. This would end the practice of public officials or employees who have either admitted their guilt or have been found guilty by a jury of their peers from continuing to receive pension benefits even after their guilt has been established.
This legislation also adds a number of crimes to the list which trigger forfeiture. Those include crimes committed by public employees against our most vulnerable citizens: the offense of neglect of a care-dependent person; the offense of institutional sexual assault; and the offense of endangering the welfare of children. Last session, the General Assembly enacted legislation to make the institutional sexual assault statute apply to schools and day care centers.
“Both of these bills are critical pieces of legislation that I was pleased to have passed through committee today,” said Marsico.
The legislation will now go to the House floor for further consideration.