All-male panel strikes again: Five-man group fails to pass bill ending parental rights for rapists

The lawmakers said they simply ran out of time

By Katie Serena
April 19, 2017 9:40PM (UTC)
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(Gajus via Shutterstock)

An all-male panel of Maryland state lawmakers failed to a pass a bill last week that had failed to pass the Maryland State House eight times before. The bill, known as the Rape Survivor Family Protection Act, would have put into place legislation that would allow for any rape survivor who is impregnated as a result of the attack, to deny parental rights to the rapist.

The Assembly is not scheduled to reconvene until its 2018 session in January,


Maryland is one of just seven states that doesn't have legislation to protect rape survivors who become pregnant, meaning that many women still have to negotiate things like custody and adoption with their attacker.

This was the ninth time that the bill had been brought up to a committee in Maryland. This time, it progressed farther than it had in the past, being passed in both houses. However, once it reached it's final test, a five-person panel, all progress was halted.

The all-male committee buried the bill by letting the clock run out before finalizing the text.


Members of the panel said that it was simply a matter of not having enough time, but critics say that the skewed demographics of the panel had something to do with it.

"Although I have great respect for my colleagues, not having women on the committee was tone-deaf," Sen. Cheryl Kagan said, in response to the ruling. "I wanted to watch as the conscience for women and rape survivors."

Del. Joseph F. Vallario Jr., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and one of the men who put together the committee, defended the panel, saying that the fact that it was made up of all men was unintentional.


Del. Kathleen Dumais, who is a prime sponsor for the bill, has been lobbying for it for over 10 years, disagreed, saying that it would have been different with a woman on the panel.

"I would have scheduled [the conference committee] earlier," Dumais said.


Because Monday was the last day of the Maryland General Assembly session, unless there is a special hearing, the bill will have to wait until Jan. 10 2018 to be heard again.

This is not the first time a group comprised entirely of men has made decisions involving women's reproductive rights. In January, President Donald Trump signed an executive order reinstating the 'global gag rule,' while surrounded by a group of -- you guessed it-- middle aged white men.


Katie Serena

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