Advance Notice: Briefs

House committee approves bill to close marital rape legal loophole

By: - May 19, 2022 3:27 am

Michigan Capitol | Susan J. Demas

A bill that would close a loophole in the state’s marital rape ban made it through the Michigan House Judiciary committee Tuesday with unanimous support. 

The Michigan Penal Code currently allows marital rape when the perpetrator’s spouse is mentally incapacitated, which includes instances where a spouse has been drugged or coerced and is unable to give consent.

House Bill 4699 strikes the “mentally incapacitated” exemption from the law.

“Passing this bill out of committee is an important step in closing this loophole once and for all. While the law this legislation addresses is outdated, it still has very modern implications for survivors of marital rape seeking justice,” said bill sponsor Rep. Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia). 

Michigan is one of the few remaining states to expressly allow marital rape in law, including Connecticut, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Virginia.

The bill now moves to the full House for consideration.

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Allison R. Donahue
Allison R. Donahue

Allison R. Donahue is a former Michigan Advance reporter who covered education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8. When she is away from her desk, she spends her time going to concerts, comedy shows or getting lost on hikes in different places around the world.