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Md. Gen. Assembly All-Male Panel Made Decision On Rape Legislation

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- In a decision made by an all-male committee, Md. Gen Assembly did not pass legislation that would allow rape victims to terminate the parental rights of their rapist.

The legislation, sponsored by Delegate Kathless Dumais, failed on the last day of General Assembly.

Both the House and Senate passed bills that made it through both chambers, and the committee was of three delegates and three senators was called together to reconcile differences between the two bills. The meeting was set for the last day of General Assembly, but was not passed because of the committee ran out of time.

Our Media Partner, the Baltimore Sun, reports that committee members were chosen by Del. Joseph F. Vallario Jr., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Bobby Zirkin, chairman of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

Senator Cheryl Kagan, who watched the all-male conference work, says "Although I have great respect for my colleagues, not having women on the committee was tone-deaf."

The Rape Survivor Family Protection Act would have created a process to allow a rape victim to terminate the rights of a rapist, if the rape victim became pregnant from the rape.

The lack of women on the committee has prompted coverage from several media outlets, including The Daily Beast, and reaction from sexual assault survivor advocacy groups like MCASA, Maryland Coalition, which lobbied for the bill.

MCASA's Executive Director and Counsel, Lisae C. Jordan, noted that several of the panel members were long-time supporters of the bill, including Senator Will Smith, and Delegates David Moon and Brett Wilson.

"Some of the legislators on the committee unquestionably care about rape survivors and co-sponsored the bills. At the same time, the committee would have benefited from including women legislators," says Smith in a statement.

This was the ninth time Del. Dumais has introduced this bill into the Maryland legislature.

According to The Sun, Maryland is one of 16 states that has not passed such a law. Women here still have to negotiate with an alleged rapist over custody or putting the child up for adoption.

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