The parental rights effort is a lot like raising preschoolers: every once in a while, things that were calm and quiet suddenly explode with activity. For parental rights, this week is wrapping up one of those furious months.
ALFIE EVANS – PULLED FROM LIFE SUPPORT AGAINST PARENTS’ WISHES
Photo Credit: #AlfiesArmy @Alfiesarmy16
The inescapable parental rights story in the news right now is that of Alfie Evans, the British boy who died this weekend after a long legal and medical battle. The court granted Alder Hey Hospital’s bid to remove the toddler from life support against his parents’ wishes, and denied the parents their right to take their child to Italy—at no further expense to the United Kingdom or Alder Hey—for treatment at a hospital there. Alfie suffered for days after being deprived of proper treatment or even food as those we trust to “first do no harm” simply watched him die.
Alfie’s experience is a tragic picture of what happens when government has the power to decide what is best for your children. Our own Supreme Court has in the past held that parents are the proper gatekeepers for their children’s rights and well-being, but the tide of “government knows best” sentiment is rising. This is why we fight to protect parental rights in the U.S. Constitution and in state law.
Part of that effort this month involved the “Parents Know Best” rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on April 10. Our own Maggie McKneely was on hand to encourage state lawmakers to support H.B. 1349, a bill introduced by Rep. Tallman that will define parental rights as fundamental and secure to them the highest standard of review.
Maggie joined American Family Association of Pennsylvania President Diane Gramley and our own Pennsylvania State Coordinator (and new board member) Vickie Suarez in encouraging families gathered in the state capitol’s rotunda to lobby their lawmakers. Several state representatives, including Rep. Tallman, addressed the assembly of parental rights supporters as well.
Though the bill remains in committee, we are excited by the increased attention we are drawing to parental rights in the Keystone State.
In Nebraska, meanwhile, ParentalRights.org volunteers Ed Hernandez and State Coordinator Leroy Becker drew attention at a critical moment. L.B. 998, a bill that would possibly have allowed schools to submit children to mental health screenings without first notifying parents, passed the legislature on April 18 and was on its way to adoption before the alarm was sounded. Thanks in part to the timely intervention of our state volunteer leaders, however, the governor vetoed the bill last Tuesday. Among other concerns, Governor Ricketts stated that “[t]he bill is also unclear about how parents and guardians would be involved in the consent and care of the student for screening, referral, treatment and payment for services” and that “[t]he bill does not provide a clear and respectful role for the parents and guardians of a minor child.”
MN BILL AND DISPROPORTIONALITY REPORT
We’ve serendipitously stepped into an effort drawing attention to parental rights in Minnesota, as well. Lawmakers there introduced the “Minnesota African American Family Preservation Act” (S.F. 3779) to change the state’s policies involving the separation of innocent minority families. We can claim no credit for that. As it happens, though, the Disproportionality of Minority Children in Child Welfare Investigations report, which the Parental Rights Foundation released last week, highlights the very data S.F. 3779 cites and seeks to address.
That report, which has a separate pull-out page for each state, shows at a glance which racial groups are disproportionately represented in child welfare cases based on numbers of “substantiated” maltreatment as reported by each state for 2016.
GRAMMY® AWARD WINNER INTERVIEW
On the same day the report was released, our president Jim Mason interviewed board member and Grammy® Award-winning gospel singer Marvin Winans, who is now a pastor of a major Detroit congregation. Bishop Winans talked about his music, his family, his church, and especially about the erosion of the family and of our parental rights. If you haven’t yet gotten to see that half-hour video, you should do so here. Then like it, share it, and pass it on to your friends!
Finally, on Saturday, April 28, I was honored to join board member and attorney Allison Folmar [shown at far right] in Detroit for the Maryanne Godboldo Forum on Parental Rights, hosted by the late Ms. Godboldo’s sister, Penny Brooks, and by the Hartford Memorial Baptist Church. Together we presented the challenges facing families today as parents are being shoved aside in medical, educational, and legal settings, especially in urban centers like Detroit.
In all, it has been a busy month, even without mentioning the amicus brief we submitted in Doe v. Woodard. And in the midst of all that, we also managed to give our website at parentalrightsfoundation.org a major facelift. (If you haven’t visited lately, go check it out!)
For all of this I need to say, “Thank you.” We couldn’t have done any of this without your support, and I’m not just talking about your donations (though we are entirely funded by donors just like you). Without your encouragement, your website visits, your Facebook likes, your email opens, your volunteer hours, your lobbying, and your phone calls, we could not hope to make any difference in the world.
But with your continued support in all these ways, we can truly hope to see parental rights protected to safeguard all our children.
Director of Communications & Research