By Michael Ramey

The issue of whether to adopt the Parental Rights Amendment (PRA) or ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) comes down to one question: Who decides what is best for children?

Proponents of the CRC believe that the United Nations has already decided and should continue to decide, and that governments should be obligated (and empowered) to enforce those decisions. The specific policy states that “In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.” (CRC, Article 3)

In application, “[this] ‘Best interests’ [standard] provides decision and policy makers with the authority to substitute their own decisions for either the child’s or the parents’, providing it is based on considerations of the best interests of the child,” according to CRC advocate and international law expert Geraldine Van Buren of the University of London.

Proponents of the PRA hold another view: namely, that fit parents act in the best interests of their children, and every parent has the right to be assumed fit until proven otherwise. We believe “the statist notion that governmental power should supersede parental authority in all cases because some parents abuse and neglect children is repugnant to American tradition”Parham v. J.R., 442 U.S. 584 (1979).

But which is right? Who makes better decisions for children, the government or the parents?

First is the case of Chief Warrant Officer Edward Cantrell, a Green Beret just home from Afghanistan. When his home caught fire, Cantrell and his wife escaped by leaping from the home’s second floor – but their two daughters, ages 6 and 4, were still inside. While a bureaucrat would begin compiling statistics and risk analyses, Cantrell wrapped himself in a blanket and dove back into the flames to recover his girls. Sadly, all three died in the blaze. But Cantrell knew it was not in his daughters’ best interest for him to stand outside and wait for help, and he did all he could, even surrendering his life, to rescue his precious little girls.

The second story involves Stephanie Decker of Indiana, who was home with her two children when a massive tornado struck. The three had taken shelter in the basement when the house was torn apart around them. Instinctively, Decker wrapped the children in a blanket and threw herself on top, shielding their bodies with her own as debris was thrown at her by the violent twister. When the wind settled, Decker found her legs badly damaged – one nearly ripped off – but her children were both safe. A fast response by a neighbor saved Stephanie’s life, though she did lose one leg above the knee and the other above the ankle.

Unlike a paid bureaucrat or elected official, Stephanie counted her own body a small price to pay for the lives of 8-year-old Dominic and 5-year-old Reese. Why? Because that’s what a Momma does. Because those children are not just her responsibility – they are her life.

And that’s why parents, and not the government, are in the best position to decide what is best for their child. Parents naturally love their children and give their lives to them and for them every day. Stephanie Decker and CWO Cantrell are the obvious and incredible examples this week, but parents know that they are not alone.

Michael Ramey is the Director of Communications and Research for ParentalRights.org.

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