State Rep. Kenneth Paschal (R-Pelham) pre-filed a bill on Thursday that he said would secure parental rights as "fundamental."
If parental rights are considered "fundamental" as opposed to "ordinary rights," the state of Alabama would be required to prove that there is a "compelling reason" before overriding the rights of a parent.
According to Alabama Divorce and Family Lawyers, Alabama law currently allows a court to terminate parental rights if a parent is not capable or refuses to meet their responsibility to their child. This can be due to the conduct or condition of the parent if it makes them unable to care for their child in the present or foreseeable future. Evidence such as abandonment of the child, mental illness and drug or alcohol abuse can be presented to the court to support parental rights termination.
"Rather than creating additional rights, this bill simply preserves the rights already afforded to parents, who will be able to rest easy knowing that they won't wake up one morning to find that the government is trying to erode their decision-making power in raising their children," Paschal explained.
According to the Parental Rights Foundation (PRF), the system designed to prevent child abuse can sometimes be counterintuitive. As much as 83% of child abuse investigations conclude that no abuse or neglect occurred. Nevertheless, when children are removed from the home as part of the investigation, they can experience trauma.
"I strongly support Rep. Paschal's legislation that would enshrine in Alabama's state code that the rights of parents are fundamental," said former University of Alabama running back and PRF vice president Shaun Alexander. "While courts have long recognized these rights, it is time for the Alabama legislature to fully protect them by statute."
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