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PA General Assembly passes bill to protect survivors who become parents through sexual assault

HARRISBURG—House Bill 1984 is headed to the governor’s desk for final approval after the Pennsylvania House and Senate unanimously passed legislation that supports victims and their children. 

HB 1984 closes a legal loophole that required having an adoptive family lined up in order to terminate the parental rights of a person who committed rape or sexual assault that resulted in the birth of a child.

Gov. Tom Wolf is expected to sign the bill into law.

Once HB 1984 is signed by the governor, victims will no longer have to jump through arbitrary legal hoops in court to terminate the parental rights of the person who raped them.  

It does not make sense that an absent, abusive person has the same rights as the present, actively engaged person who chose to become a parent after surviving rape. Requiring a victim to enter a legal relationship with a co-parent for their own child as a condition of severing the legal ties of the person who abused them is absurd and perpetuates harm.  

“PCAR and the rape crisis centers across that Commonwealth that we represent thank members of the Senate, House, and lead sponsor Rep. Kerry Benninghoff for their support of HB 1984,” PCAR Policy Director Donna Greco said. “When advocating for this bill, every single person we talked with could not believe this was current law and that victims and their children in Pennsylvania were facing this reality. We know today that victims can raise their child as a single-parent if they wish—and that household can be a stable, loving home free from abuse. This is a sensible policy for rape victims and their families when they choose to have, love and parent their child.”