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Bill taking away rapist’s parental rights passes state legislature

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PHOENIX (KVOA) - SB 1007 passed the Arizona House unanimously Monday afternoon.

The bill allows parents of children who were conceived due to rape, to petition a court, and terminate the parental rights of the father. Victims must show clear and convincing evidence.

The legislation was sponsored by State Senator Victoria Steele of Tucson, who is a sexual assault survivor.

Steele told News 4 Tucson that this is a big win for survivors and their children.

"A sigh of relief who for women who are waiting right now to be relieved of the terror of having to live with the rapist in their and their baby's life," Sen. Steele said. "Being a rapist does not make one a father."

This is personal for Darcy Benoit.

"It's been a long journey," Benoit said. "I actually have been in shock all day. I didn't think this passed and actually went through."

In 2011, Benoit was raped.

"I told him no," she said. "I was yelling. I was trying to push him off of me. I had a broken back and it was rape."

She became pregnant and had her child. Then, Benoit said about a year later, the man who assaulted her sued for parental rights.

"I wasn't even allowed to bring it up in our family court because the first thing they asked me was, 'well, do you have a conviction of that.' I'm like, well, of course not."

SB 1007 now goes to Gov. Ducey's desk for his signature.

Sen. Steele is very hopeful the governor will sign it.

"Most of these women try to run away and hide," Steele said. "They change their names, they change their child's names. They do not want to hand over their baby to somebody else. They are living in fear and this stops that cycle."

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Eric Fink

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