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Mon May 6, 2019, 12:02 PM

Some states seek to close loopholes in marital rape laws

Source: Associated Press

Some states seek to close loopholes in marital rape laws

By JULIE CARR SMYTH and STEVE KARNOWSKI
May 4, 2019

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Witches were still being burned at the stake when Sir Matthew Hale came up with his legal theory that rape could not happen within marriage. The 17th century English jurist declared it legally impossible because wedding vows implied a wife’s ongoing consent to sex.

Three and a half centuries later, vestiges of the so-called “marital rape exemption” or “spousal defense” still exist in most states — remnants of the English common law that helped inform American legal traditions. Legislative attempts to end or modify those exemptions have a mixed record but have received renewed attention in the #MeToo era.

The most recent efforts to roll back protections for spouses focus on rapes that happen when a partner is drugged, unconscious or otherwise incapacitated. Minnesota is the latest to take action. The state Legislature this week voted to eliminate the exemption, which had prevented prosecutions in those cases.

“No longer will this antiquated and shameful law be on our books,” Gov. Tim Walz said as he signed the bill into law on Thursday. “The concept of a pre-existing relationship defense should have never been part of our criminal statutes.”

In Ohio, determined opponents plan to re-introduce a marital rape bill this month, after two earlier attempts failed.

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Read more: https://apnews.com/3a11fee6d0e449ce81f6c8a50601c687

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