On May 29, 2015, President Barack Obama signed into law the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act, part of the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act. The new law is a bipartisan effort by Democrat Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida and Republican Tom Marino of Pennsylvania.
The new law aids, supports and protects rape victims who become pregnant from rape and choose to keep the child. Studies show that approximately 25,000 to 30,000 pregnancies occur every year through a rape, with about one third of the rape victims choosing to raise the child. The law will help women petition for a termination of parental rights for a rapist who is the biological father of a child.
Many mothers who have kept their child from a rape are harassed and tormented from the rapist who seeks child custody rights. 36 states currently have laws in place to address the issue, but since many rapes either go unreported or do not result in a criminal conviction, rapists have been able to seek child custody rights for the child, often leading to long custody battles in court.
This law will allow judges to protect mothers who are rape victims from the rapists through a "clear and convincing" standard, as opposed to the traditional "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard necessary for a criminal conviction. States that integrate the new clear and convincing standard to existing or new laws will now be eligible for a 10 percent increase to their Violence Against Women Act funding, which is used for support services for women who are victims of violence.
Source: Christian Science Monitor, "With new US law, more funding to protect women who have children after rape", Stacey Teicher Khadaroo, June 4, 2015