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Parental rights measure clears Senate


RICHMOND—The state Senate on Thursday passed a bill protecting parents’ rights, though opponents said it could harm legal protections for the children of bad parents.

Sen. Bryce Reeves, R–Spotsylvania, proposed the bill because he said the rights of parents to control the education and upbringing of their kids is under threat.

Defining parental rights in the code as “fundamental”—a legal term—would provide stronger protections for those rights, Reeves said.

Sen. John Edwards, D–Roanoke, said he feared the bill would erode the ability of government and the courts to protect children.

“We don’t like to admit it, but there are some bad parents,” Edwards said. “We will erode the protection that our children are entitled to. Let’s keep in mind, good parents don’t need this bill.”

Sen. Creigh Deeds, D–Bath, said he didn’t think the bill was necessary.

“These are just extra words we’re putting in the code of Virginia,” Deeds said.

Sen. Mark Obenshain, R–Harrisonburg, said Edwards’ concerns were far beyond what the bill would actually do, while Sen. Steve Martin, R–Chesterfield, argued that it simply puts language in law for state courts that federal courts already use.

“Our citizens should not have to go to federal courts to assert that right because the state courts were not looking out for us,” Martin said.

Reeves’ bill passed 25–15.

 Chelyen Davis:  540/368-5028