Bill to strip rapists of parental rights advances

SANTA FE (KRQE) – A proposal that would set up a process to strip convicted rapists of parental rights for children conceived of by rape moved forward in the Roundhouse Tuesday.

HB 50 is being carried by Rep. Conrad James, R-Albuquerque, who had a similar piece of legislation last session. The prior version of the bill cleared the House, but stalled in a Senate committee.

“You  can read the horror stories on the internet about the cases where woman have been harassed essentially with visitation petitions and things of that nature so I think it’s really important that we protect women in this state,” James said.

This year’s version requires a conviction in order for the mother to file a petition to remove the rapist’s parental rights. Last year’s version required the court to determine if the child was conceived of by rape for that to apply and did not require a conviction.

The Children Youth and Families Department expressed due process concerns about the prior version of the bill.

But Rep. Christine Trujillo, D-Albuquerque, says a conviction is too strong of a standard and has another bill that calls for “clear and convincing evidence” that the child was conceived of by rape as the standard in cases where the children was up to two years old. She doesn’t want mothers to have to wait for the criminal justice system to catch up.

“We should be able to protect them, not make them suffer anymore,” said Trujillo.

Trujillo’s version of the bill is currently stuck in House Rules committee and has yet to be heard. James’ version of the bill cleared its final House committee Tuesday.

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