Bob Unruh joined WND in 2006 after nearly three decades with the Associated Press, as well as several Upper Midwest newspapers, where he covered everything from legislative battles and sports to tornadoes and homicidal survivalists. He is also a photographer whose scenic work has been used commercially.More ↓Less ↑
Supporters of a plan to amend the U.S. Constitution to include parental rights are warning moms and dads across the United States they already are losing their rights to make decisions regarding their children’s health, education, welfare, finances, sex education, access to abortion and even leisure time.
Eighty years ago, the amendment website notes, “the Supreme Court declared that ‘the child is not the mere creature of the State; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.’”
However, according to Farris, a survey last year of state and federal appellate court rulings found “the vast majority of the court decisions refused to acknowledge traditional parental rights are fundamental rights.”
The problem, says Farris, is the growing reach of domestic and international government into decisions about health, education, discipline and other issues that for millennia have been made by parents. In one recent case in the South, the parents of a 13-year-old juvenile were refused access to his medical records because the doctor decided against including the parents in the discussion.
According to Farris, the parents could only be granted access to their son’s medical records with their son’s permission.
“The Supreme Court has so muddied the waters … the growing practice is to treat parenting as a government privilege,” he said.
“Neither the United States nor any state shall infringe upon this right without demonstrating that its governmental interest as applied to the person is of the highest order and not otherwise served,” the draft states. “No treaty may be adopted nor shall any source of international law be employed to supersede, modify, interpret, or apply to the rights guaranteed by this article.”
Farris said the amendment proposal, which already has about 80 co-sponsors in Congress, is moving “faster then we thought we would.”
Some of the key leaders in the GOP have signed onto the campaign, citing parental rights as a top concern. Democrat support has been far less, but the group has seen a large number of signs that the grass roots are becoming alarmed, pushing county and state officials to action.
Both the GOP and Democrats will be paying more attention as the groundswell of support expands, he said.
The local alarm is being raised on a number of converging issues, including the Food and Drug Administration’s new decision to allow 17-year-old juveniles to purchase abortion pills over the counter. Also among the concerns are a long list of challenges to parents who want to homeschool their own children and medical information disputes.
Critics also point to a developing propensity for U.S. judges in cite foreign law in deciding domestic cases, because of the fundamentally different foundations on which other nations base their laws.
WND reported just this week on a case involving German parents who wanted to protect their daughter from sexually explicit teachings in the local school and were fined for it.
Alliance Defense Fund attorney Roger Kiska said such cases must be fought around the world “to keep bad decisions overseas from being relied upon by activists who attack parental rights in America.”
One of the more significant threats to parental rights in the U.S. is the possible vote on the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. Lawmakers have refused to ratify the measure for the 20 years it has existed because of worries over what it could do to the entire structure of U.S. law and practice.
For example, it would turn parents who spank their own children into criminals under international law.
The document specifically would create “the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion,” which critics say would usurp the role of parents in directing their children’s religious training.
Another concern is a congressional report that reportedly analyzed the treaty’s provisions and forecast that it would be considered in this session of Congress.
Additionally, a symposium has been scheduled to promote the treaty in June at the Georgetown University law school.
“The reports don’t appear by magic,” Farris noted. “They come because somebody in leadership has requested it.”
The Parental Amendment website notes 30 years ago the U.S. Supreme Court announced the “primary role of the parents in the upbringing of their children is now established beyond debate as an enduring American tradition.”
But just nine years ago the state of Washington allowed any person the ability to override a good parent’s decision about visitation simple by claiming it would be “best” for child.
At the Supreme Court level there was only one justice to state clearly that parental rights should get the same high legal standard of protection as other fundamental rights. One justice, in fact, said parents have no constitutionally protected rights.
The website notes if approved, the treaty would supersede “the laws of all 50 states on children and parents.”
Parents would no longer be able to administer reasonable spankings to their children.
A murderer aged 17 years, 11 months and 29 days at the time of his crime could no longer be sentenced to life in prison.
Children would have the ability to choose their own religion while parents would only have the authority to give their children advice about religion.
The best interest of the child principle would give the government the ability to override every decision made by every parent if a government worker disagreed with the parent’s decision.
A child’s “right to be heard” would allow him (or her) to seek governmental review of every parental decision with which the child disagreed.
According to existing interpretation, it would be illegal for a nation to spend more on national defense than it does on children’s welfare.
Children would acquire a legally enforceable right to leisure.
Teaching children about Christianity in schools has been held to be out of compliance with the CRC.
Allowing parents to opt their children out of sex education has been held to be out of compliance with the CRC.
Children would have the right to reproductive health information and services, including abortions, without parental knowledge or consent.
Good parents also no longer would be entitled to the legal presumption that they act in the best interests of their children, giving way to governmental decisions that would trump anything a parent would seek for his or her child, regardless of the topic, the analysis said.
“The people are waking up,” Farris said.
According to the website, “The goal of this Amendment is to preserve our existing law and traditions against judicial erosion and the ever-growing threat of international law. … This should be a bi-partisan issue. President Obama recently declared, ‘In the end, there is no program or policy that can substitute for a mother or father.’ Every member of Congress who agrees with the president on this principle should be in favor of this amendment.
“The need to protect parents’ rights has struck a nerve with the American people. In an era where congressional leadership and the administration offer the federal government as the only solution to the challenges we face, Americans are starting to realize that no sphere of their lives is off-limits from government encroachment. Specifically, parents are recognizing the real possibility of being told by the government how to manage their parent-child relationship,” the organization said in a statement.