HARRISBURG – Today, the Pennsylvania Senate unanimously House Bill 1984, legislation led by House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin) that stands up for rape victims and their families by removing the requirement of having an adoptive family lined up in order to terminate the rights of a perpetrator of rape or sexual assault that resulted in the birth of a child.
“Pennsylvania’s Adoption Act has an antiquated and harmful loophole that undermines the safety and strips away the rights of victims and their children,” Benninghoff said. “This bill takes a long overdue stand for victims and their families by removing the need to have a surrogate parent lined up before the parental rights of a rape or sexual assault perpetrator can be terminated. I am glad this bill received unanimous support in the Senate, and I urge the governor to sign the bill as quickly as possible.”
House Bill 1984 is supported by the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape.
“The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape—and the 67-county network of rape crisis centers we represent—express our deep gratitude to Rep. Benninghoff for championing this legislation. Imagine surviving rape and becoming pregnant as a result of the assault. Imagine working to provide a loving and stable home for your child, only to learn that the person who raped you has legal parental rights over your child. Imagine learning that in order to terminate those parental rights, you must enter into another relationship so that your child has a stepparent to take the place of the ‘other parent,’” said PCAR Policy Director Donna Greco.
“When advocating for this bill, every single person we talked with could not believe this was the current law and that victims and their children in Pennsylvania were facing this reality in the year 2020. We thank the General Assembly for their widespread and bipartisan support of this bill. We request Gov. Wolf sign the bill into law swiftly, so that victims of sexual abuse and assault will be empowered to walk through the doors of these legal proceedings as the courageous victims and loving parents they are, without having an adoptive party waiting in the wings,” Greco concluded.
Representative Kerry Benninghoff
Pennsylvania House Majority Leader
171st Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives