JUNEAU – Friday, Governor Bill Walker signed SB 134 by Senate Democratic Leader Berta Gardner (D-Anchorage). The legislation clarifies that a parent who chooses to keep a child conceived through rape can use a civil action to sever ties between the child and the rapist, if approved by the court and in the best interest of the child.
In 1987, the Legislature passed a law allowing a mother to terminate a rapist father’s parental rights. This law was inserted in AS 25.23, which focuses on adoption. The current termination statute has confused advocates and attorneys. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, has erroneously interpreted Alaska’s statute as pertaining only to adoption cases. Family law lawyers within the state of Alaska have claimed they were not aware of the applicability of the previously existing statute.
“A woman pregnant following a rape and considering her options needs the comfort of knowing that should she choose to keep the child she does not have to be locked in a lifetime relationship with the rapist,” said Sen. Gardner. “Further unwanted interactions with the rapist can interfere with her ability to work through the trauma of sexual assault and raise a healthy child.”
There are currently 45 states with statutes that allow for the parental rights of rapists to be reduced or terminated.
The legislation passed unanimously in the Senate and the House of Representatives.