The Maryland Catholic Conference offers this testimony in SUPPORT of Senate Bill 2. The Catholic Conference represents the public policy interests of the three (arch)dioceses serving Maryland, the Archdioceses of Baltimore and Washington and the Diocese of Wilmington, which together encompass over one million Marylanders.
SB 2 authorizes a court to terminate the parental rights of an individual convicted of, or found by clear and convincing evidence, to have committed an act of nonconsensual sexual conduct against the other parent that resulted in the conception of a child.
This bill is designed to protect women from being tormented by their rapists when they become pregnant as a result of nonconsensual sexual conduct. Currently, a rapist can assert custody and visitation rights over a child who was conceived through a sexual assault. While the Church strongly supports keeping families together, it also recognizes that doing so may not be in the best interests of the child, particularly when the child may have contact with a parent who exhibits violent behavior. This bill would also support the decision of a pregnant woman who is the victim of rape to carry her child to term without having to fear future interaction with her attacker. The Maryland Catholic Conference supports measures that seek to protect vulnerable mothers and children from harm and promote their general well-being.
It is for these reasons that the Maryland Catholic Conference respectfully urges a favorable report for SB 2. Thank you for your consideration.