Meehan fights for rape victims’ rights

Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.), a former prosecutor, recently introduced a bill that would ensure victims of rape do not wage custody battles with the attackers who conceived their child.

“I’ve defended rape victims and I’ve put their attackers behind bars,” Meehan said. “Amazingly, in some states rapists have parental rights to their child. Victims then must relive their experiences in prolonged custody disputes, and they’re forced to interact with their attackers on a regular basis to arrange visitation.”

The Rape Survivor Child Custody Act would allow states that enforce laws that protect such rape victims’ rights to obtain additional funding through the Violence Against Women Act.

Thirty-one states in the United States currently permit visitation and custody rights for convicted rapists.

Reps. Tom Marino (R-Pa.), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) and Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) are cosponsors of the bill.

“This isn’t just painful for the victim – it’s unsafe for the child, as well,” Meehan said. “Federal policy can and should encourage states to protect rape victims and their children.”

Meehan is a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee as well as the House Ethics Committee. Before entering Congress, Meehan served as the United States attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.