Correction: An earlier version of this letter incorrectly said that no states allow termination of parental rights without a conviction. Several states allow termination of parental rights after a judgment of clear and convincing evidence of sexual assault is presented. This version has been updated.
Regarding the March 24 editorial “Terminating rapists’ parental rights”:
The Maryland State Bar Association has consistently supported the goals of the proposed legislation, HB 646, the Rape Survivor Family Protection Act. Therefore the suggestion in your editorial that the MSBA is “leading the opposition” is inaccurate.
The MSBA and others, including the Maryland judiciary and the Office of the Public Defender, objected to some aspects of the legislation as introduced.
The MSBA has provided and will continue to provide guidance to the legislature through the work of its legislative committee. The MSBA agrees with the goals of the bill and has worked to improve it, including the protection of constitutional liberty interests, privacy rights and due process.
Originally, the bill provided that a man’s parental rights may be terminated even if he had never been convicted of or even charged with a crime. Currently, a few states allow for termination upon a conviction or with clear and compelling evidence. The MSBA has pointed out provisions that would render the legislation unconstitutional. Many of the concerns that the MSBA brought to the attention of the bill’s drafters were remedied; indeed, the House passed the amended version unanimously.
The MSBA will be reviewing the amended legislation and has not yet taken a position on the amended bill.
Pamila J. Brown, Baltimore
The writer is president of the
Maryland State Bar Association.