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House moves forward with parental rights amendment


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri House of Representatives gave preliminary approval to a measure that, if approved by a vote of the people, would amend the state constitution to ensure each parent has a “fundamental right to exercise exclusive control over the care, custody, and upbringing of their minor children.”

The amendment, sponsored by Rep. Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, is meant to “reinforce” parental rights, he says.

Rep. Todd Richardson
Rep. Todd Richardson

“This legislation is meant to protect a parent’s fundamental right to raise their children,” Richardson said. “This bill will allow parents to make choices about their children’s upbringing, and those choices are an essential part of our liberty.”

The bill makes specific mention of the education, religious instruction, and medical care as areas where parent’s rights cannot be infringed.

Opposition to the bill came from some Democrats who were concerned the broad language would allow parents to prevent minor women from procuring an abortion. Other concerns over whether it would make it harder to prosecute neglect, abuse, or mistreatment were snuffed-out on the floor.

“If you read this bill, it very clearly states that this cannot be construed to limit the ability to prosecute a crime that took place,” Richardson said.

The House must give the bill a final round of approval before it moves to the Senate. HJR 56 will, if approved by the legislature, be placed on the ballot for a vote by the people.