FACT Statement on Parental Rights and Transgender Legislation
FACT released today the following statement concerning the negative impact of litigation over Senate Bill 1/House Bill 1 addressing “gender affirming case” provided to minors may have on the nature and scope of parental rights.
An amendment has been offered to the House and Senate Republican Leadership by FACT to counter the ACLU’s version of parental rights that will be used in federal court as the basis for its claim that the proposed law is unconstitutional. The proposed amendment is at this link. It shows the language of the provision in the bill at issue, the two sentences in that provision that FACT believes must be removed, and the addition (in red font) that we believe must be made.
To date, no response has been given by Senate or House leadership to our request that the offered amendment be adopted.
Statement of The Family Action Council of Tennessee on
Senate Bill 1/House Bill 1
The Family Action Council of Tennessee supports the legislature’s desire to prohibit health care providers from providing services to minor children that would alter or change the otherwise normal and healthy development of their bodies and organs. However, we cannot support the bill as written.
We believe the people of Tennessee, rightly concerned with what is taking place, deserve an explanation.
The legislature has asserted in Section 68-33-101(m) of the proposed bill that the government can interfere in the constitutionally protected parent-child relationship because it has a “compelling interest in protecting minors” from “emotional harm” and “in promoting the dignity of minors.”
We cannot embrace such a broad and unlimited scope of justification for government interference in the parent-child relationship. In 1923, the United States Supreme Court rightly held that the constitution puts limits on the state’s police power when it comes to the parent-child relationship. As the Court said two years later, “The child is not the mere creature of the State.”
Without clarification, Section (m) could well mean the government has the lawful authority to second-guess what parents think promotes the dignity and emotional health of their children. We cannot accept such a broad power in the government even if, in this instance, it would be exercised to prevent what we agree is harmful.
We believe our concerns can be addressed, whereas the ACLU’s legal counsel testified last week that there is no lawful and constitutional answer to these concerns.
We disagree and stand ready with language already written and reviewed by a team of legal scholars that rightly, lawfully, and objectively limits the government’s asserted power without thwarting the legislature’s effort to address the specific harm that is its primary objective.
The adage that “the right thing done the wrong way is still wrong” applies in this instance.
Absent changes to Section (m), we regret we cannot endorse legislation we would otherwise strongly support.
Here is the recommended change:
(m) The legislature declares that the integrity and public respect of the medical profession are significantly harmed by healthcare providers performing or administering such medical procedures on minors. This state has a legitimate, substantial, and compelling interest in protecting minors from physical and emotional harm. securing a minor’s fundamental right at common law to be protected from physical harms to their body including but not limited to, interference with or disruption of the proper functioning of their healthy organs according to their biologic purpose and compelling interest in protecting the ability of minors to develop into adults who can create children of their own. This state has a legitimate, substantial, and compelling interest in promoting the dignity of minors. This state has a legitimate, substantial, and compelling interest in encouraging minors to appreciate their sex, particularly as they undergo puberty. This state has a legitimate, substantial, and compelling interest in protecting the integrity of the medical profession, including by prohibiting medical procedures that are harmful, unethical, immoral, experimental, or unsupported by high-quality or long-term studies, or that might encourage minors to become disdainful of their sex.
IMHO, I think David Fowler, head of FACTS Tennessee, makes sense, and I wish our legislators would heed his advice. Fowler was a TN Senator himself, is an attorney, and I listen to his weekly Blog: Faith, Family and Freedom.