The Unbelievable State of Parental Rights in America

On Tuesday President Obama gave his “State of the Union” address, in which he gave his view of where our nation is right now and where we are headed.

But what about parental rights? Where are we and where are we headed? It turns out we are not as free and secure as we would like to be, and we’re heading in the wrong direction. Here is an overview of parental rights in America as we begin 2014.

Medical Freedom - Hospitals:

Boston Children’s Hospital and the Massachusetts Department of Youth and Families take another child hostage because hospital staff disagree with the parents on the child’s medical diagnosis.
In California, “Baby Sammy” was taken from his parents because they left one hospital to seek a second opinion at another before subjecting the child to open-heart surgery.
In Ohio, an Amish family was forced to flee the country to spare their daughter unwanted and dangerous chemo-therapy, including a cocktail of drugs not approved for children by the FDA. Reports indicate the girl is in remission through natural means, but the Ohio hospital and child services department are livid.

The law is not on your side. In every one of these cases the judge ruled against legally fit parents. As a result, more and more parents are afraid to even take their child to the emergency room, lest one wrong answer lead to the removal of their child and the loss of their parental rights.
Medical Freedom at Home:

But keeping your child at home doesn’t provide any protection, either.

In May, 2013, charges were reinstated against Detroit resident Maryann Godboldo, who in 2011 was arrested after a 10-hour standoff with police and CPS who claimed she was not giving her daughter proper medication. The state later discontinued the medication as well, returned the daughter, and dropped the charges – until the appeals court this year sided with prosecutors looking to go after her again.

The law is not on your side. In the last decade alone, legislatures in 26 states have made 36 attempts to increase mandatory vaccination requirements, the large majority successfully requiring the HPV vaccine for pre-teen girls.

Mental Health and Counseling:

New laws in California and New Jersey make it illegal for teenagers struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction to seek reparative therapy, even if the teen, the professional counselor, and both parents agree on the desired treatment. This viewpoint discrimination takes decision-making rights away from parents and tramples the doctor-patient professional relationship.

The law is not on your side.

Public School Access:

In Tennessee, a dad was arrested trying to pick up his special-needs daughter at the end of the school day. No fighting, no yelling. Just asking for his children and not backing down.

A Georgia Army vet was banned from her child’s school grounds for posting her newly earned concealed carry gun permit online. No threats; no plans to violate the “gun-free zone.” She simply has a permit, and was banned from the school.

The law is not on your side. Laws in a majority of states limit or entirely deny to parents any “right” to be present on school grounds where their child is in attendance. What’s more, some school districts have banned parents from sending a lunch with their child, requiring that they buy school-provided lunch instead. And a bill in New York would require that all parents attend state-provided parenting classes before their child can graduate the sixth grade.

But why do parents need to make decisions in the schools anyway? Surely they can trust the institutions where they leave their children every day, right?

Public School Content:

Tell that to the Kansas father who was livid last week over a poster in his daughter’s eighth grade classroom that lists “How …people express their sexual feelings.” Some of the examples are light enough, but others are very explicit – and in a middle school setting! The principal and school district defend the poster, saying it is part of the school’s abstinence-based sex education program, and in line with other schools across the country.

Tell it to the growing number of parents and organizations opposing Common Core, a new set of “national curriculum standards” set up by the National Governors’ Association and required for schools to qualify for federal Race to the Top education funding. The “standards” were adopted over the summer of 2010 without any review by parents or state legislatures. Last week, even the New York State Teachers’ Union voted to reject the standards, saying “We will be the first to admit it doesn’t work.”

But the law is not on your side. The Ninth Circuit in Fields v. Palmdale (2005) held that, “Parents…have no constitutional right…to prevent a public school from providing its students with whatever information it wishes to provide, sexual or otherwise, when and as the school determines that it is appropriate to do so.”

Educational Choice:

Still, the First Circuit Court of Appeals in its Parker v. Hurley (2007) decision states, “Parents do have a fundamental right to raise their children. They are not required to abandon that responsibility to the state. [They] may send their children to a private school that does not … conflict with their religious beliefs. They may also educate their children at home.” (emphasis added) But this may not be the case much longer.

A judge in Texas took the Tutts’ children away at the urging of a guardian ad litem who confesses there are no signs of abuse or neglect. Yet she implicated statutory language likely to cause the children to be removed (which it did), apparently because she opposes the family’s choice to teach their children at home.

In fact, several journals over the last few years have published articles by academic elites claiming “that public education should be mandatory and universal.” Says Emory University Law professor Martha Albertson Fineman, “Parental expressive interest could supplement but never supplant the public institutions where the basic fundamental lesson would be taught and experienced by all American children: we must struggle together to define ourselves both as a collective and as individuals.”

In the last decade there have been at least 22 attempts to expand public pre-school education, at least 31 attempts to make kindergarten mandatory, and nearly 150 efforts in 43 states to otherwise expand the compulsory attendance age range for public schools. None of these measures has been shown to improve education outcomes; they only serve to give more control to the state and less control to parents as children develop and grow.

The law here may be on your side, but it is quickly retreating. And so is the government.

The United States Department of Justice seeks to overrule the asylum status of the Romeikes, who fled Germany to keep their family together. Germany has rejected the parents’ right to choose the form of education their children receive, and the U.S. Administration actually supports Germany’s position! The case is now in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Bureaucrats Run Amok:

In Loudermilk v. Administration for Children, Youth, and Families, a federal district court ruled that Arizona social workers were protected by immunity when they forced their way into a family’s home without a warrant using threats of taking the couple’s children away. Such threats, according to the court, do not constitute coercion, so the parents’ Fourth Amendment rights – says the court – were surrendered voluntarily.

Meanwhile, social workers in Kentucky have been found to be corrupt, then vindictive when a mother stands up to them. Social Services took her children, children of her relatives (at 3:00 in video), and even removed the children of her lawyer (at 4:15) from the lawyer’s home!

But the law is not on your side. Every state authorizes certain personnel – doctors, police, social workers (the list varies by state) – to remove your children from your care without a warrant, a court order, or any proof of abuse or neglect. Though many abuses are overturned for those who can afford to appeal, such an atmosphere in the lower courts sees abuses getting worse every year.

What Can Be Done?

There is hope! A proposed Parental Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is already making its way through the Congress. Once adopted, the PRA will guard the fundamental right of parents to make decisions – medical, educational, in fact all kinds of decisions – for their children.

P.S. -- The above is a sampling, not an exhaustive list. This is an epidemic. Now let's get to work on the cure!