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    Colorado proposed amendment aimed to protect parental rights


    Should parents have an “inalienable right” to “direct and control the upbringing, education, values and discipline of their children”? Supporters of a parental rights amendment to the Colorado Constitution say yes, but their attempt to put it in writing has brought on a spirited debate between advocates who say it will protect families from an intrusive government and opponents who say it will hurt children who desperately need government’s help.

    Fofi Mendez, campaign manager for the Protect Our Children Coalition, which is fighting Amendment 17, accuses backers of the parental rights amendment of having a “stealth agenda” that will affect education and child protection. She alleges that the measure will make it harder to prosecute child abuse cases.

    But supporters of the amendment say it is a reasonable response to the increasing battles parents face with schools and social service agencies for control of their children. “It’s time for parents to be responsible for their children once again,” says Mike Norton, head of the Coalition for Parental Responsibility, which is spearheading the drive for a parental rights amendment. Parents are frustrated by “the erosion of parental rights over the years,” adds Norton, who cites such examples as parents being arrested for spanking children, and children being exposed to pro-homosexual teaching without parental consent.

    A similar measure was passed by the Colorado Legislature, but vetoed by Gov. Roy Romer last spring. In response, more than 80,000 registered voters signed a petition to put the measure on the fall ballot. Polling suggests that the measure is likely to pass.

    — E.P. News

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