NH Bill to protect assault survivors’ parental rights will soon become law

Leaven for the Loaf carried a report eleven days ago about SB 253, a New Hampshire bill to prevent rapists from seeking custody or visitation rights to their children conceived by rape. The testimony of rape survivor Shauna Prewitt, who chose life for her baby, testimony was still fresh in legislators’ minds when House and Senate conferees sat down recently to iron out their differences with the bill. I’m happy to report that SB 253 looks like it will be law soon. The amended language is not yet online but should be available shortly via the bill’s web page.

Thirty-one states allow rapists to sue for custody. That list will be cut to thirty within a few weeks.

There were six co-sponsors of SB 253, led by Sen. Bette Lasky (D-Nashua). The two I find most interesting, considered side-by-side, are Sens. Donna Soucy (D-Manchester) and Sharon Carson (R-Londonderry.) Soucy is of course the prime legislative mover of the soon-to-be-signed buffer zone bill. Carson was the Senate’s most impassioned critic of the buffer zone bill as an attack on the First Amendment.




A way to support survivors who choose life

“I couldn’t imagine anything worse than co-parenting with my attacker.”

Shauna Prewitt said that to a New Hampshire Senate committee earlier this year. She’s an attorney, a rape survivor, and a mother. Her child was conceived through rape. Prewitt chose life. She was shocked when her attacker sought parental rights, and he dropped his request only after she agreed to stop seeking his conviction. That was years ago, and Prewitt now works to make sure no other woman will wind up in the same situation.

Prewitt was in New Hampshire in February to support Senate Bill 253. It would provide for termination of parental rights in cases where a parent has pled guilty to or is convicted of rape of the birth parent. The bill also provides that if parental rights have not been terminated in such cases, the court shall not require contact between the child and parent under RSA 461-a.

It’s May now. The Senate has just asked the House for a conference committee on SB 253. Let’s hope they come to terms soon.