Governor Snyder signed the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act into law on May 3. The new law helps prevent a rapist from gaining custody of a child. The law was included in a larger package of bills addressing domestic violence that Governor Snyder also signed.
Life of Michigan President Barbara Listing said, "Half of women who
become pregnant through rape don't have abortions and most of those
women decide to keep their child. Michigan was not doing enough to
protect women from their attackers in those circumstances."
old state law a parent whose child was conceived through sexual assault
had to secure a conviction in order to terminate the attacker's
parental rights. Rape convictions can be difficult to obtain because the
evidence standard is "beyond a reasonable doubt." The new law changes
that evidence standard for child custody hearings to "clear and
convincing," the same standard in custody hearings applied to child
The change received overwhelming bipartisan
support in the Michigan Legislature. The Senate passed it unanimously
and the House passed the final version 105-3.
Right to Life of Michigan aired television ads as part of the compassion
project. The ads directly addressed the issue of rape and abortion
through the stories of four women. One of those women, Shauna, was
forced to choose between pursuing charges against her attacker and
protecting custody of her daughter.
Right to Life of Michigan
and prolife legislators began working on the Rape Survivor Child Custody
Act after learning about this weakness in the court system.
said, "A child deserves love and protection, not to be used as a
bargaining chip for rapists to threaten their mothers and escape
Shauna's story, which inspired the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act, can be seen on Right to Life of Michigan's website here.