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6. Wouldn't a Parental Rights Amendment Protect Child Abusers?

The Parental Rights Amendment will not protect child abusers. No one has a right to abuse or neglect a child, and the PRA will not change this. "Fundamental" rights are not "absolute" rights: the government can restrict a fundamental right if it proves that it has a compelling reason to do so. Protecting children from abuse and neglect is just such a compelling reason.

One danger to families is that government officials are often able to strip parents of their rights (and children of their parents) without providing proof of abuse or neglect. This is why Section 3 of the proposed Parental Rights Amendment requires the government to "demonstrat[e] that its ... interest ... is of the highest order and not otherwise served."

State laws that define and punish child abuse will not be affected or altered by this Amendment. Such laws routinely and appropriately pass the test as a "governmental interest of the highest order."

The Supreme Court said in the 1982 case of Santosky v. Kramer, "until the State proves parental unfitness, the child and his parents share a vital interest in preventing erroneous termination of their natural relationship." The Parental Rights Amendment does not protect child-abusers; it protects this vital interest of the parents and the child where abuse and neglect have not occurred.

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