Waites: My vow to protect mothers and children

By State Representative Keisha Waites (D-Atlanta)

It is estimated that there are 25,000 cases of rape-related pregnancies in the United States every year. Under current Federal law, when a woman becomes pregnant as a result of rape, the rapist has the same parental rights as the child’s mother.

More than 25 states have enacted legislation that would terminate the parental rights of the father when the pregnancy was the result of rape, thus aiding the women who choose to raise these children.  However, Georgia does not have this kind of legislation in place.

Under existing Georgia law, a court can only terminate the custodial rights of a parent today for the following reasons:

  • Excessive use of, or history of, chronic, un-rehabilitated abuse of alcohol or controlled substance rendering the parent incapable of adequately providing for the child;
  • Conviction of the parent of a felony and imprisonment;
  • Egregious conduct or evidence of past egregious conduct toward the child of a physically, emotionally, or sexually cruel, abusive nature;
  • Injury or death of a sibling resulting from child neglect or abuse;
  • The parent has been convicted of murder of the child’s other parent

However, a child conceived through rape, nor their mother, are protected under the law. Without this legislation, the mere 30 percent of women who decide to keep their children are forever tied to their rapist due to archaic laws which only account for those who choose to terminate their pregnancies.

Our duty to protect women and children from sexual predators is the reason I introduced HB 397 during the 2013 legislative session and why I also plan to support HB 713, proposed by Representative Brad Raffensperger (R-Johns Creek), during the upcoming 2016 legislative session of the Georgia General Assembly.

Similar to HB 397, HB 713 would allow courts in Georgia to terminate parental rights of a parent who caused the child to be conceived by rape or trafficking for sexual servitude.  It also adds additional grounds for parental powers to be lost by any parent who caused the child to be conceived by rape, child molestation, sexual assault, incest, or sex trafficking.

HB 713 seeks to give women hope after overcoming extreme adversity, and peace of mind that the court system will be there to serve as their advocate on this issue.

It is my hope you will join me in supporting this legislation to protect the women and children in our state.

About the author

Keisha Waites

Representative Keisha Waites represents the citizens of District 60, which includes portions of Clayton and Fulton counties. She was elected into the House of Representatives in 2012, and currently serves on the Interstate Cooperation, Juvenile Justice, Public Safety & Homeland Security, Special Rules, and Transportation committees.