Originally Sent: 1/10/2014
|From the HSLDA e-lert service|
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Action Needed To Defend against Unwarranted Government Intrusion
Dear HSLDA Members and Friends,
We are writing to ask you to contact your legislators on two recently introduced bills that threaten West Virginia families.
House Bill (“HB”) 4004 and HB 4005 are similar to bills introduced last year that did not pass. These bills would amend the West Virginia Criminal Code sections 61-8D-3 and 61-8D-4 creating a graduated series of new misdemeanor crimes if parents create certain risks to their children.
While HSLDA respects the appropriate role of government in protecting innocent children from harm, these bills could infringe on the rights of parents who make appropriate and reasonable decisions for their children. By criminalizing behavior based on risk, these proposals could allow government authorities to prosecute parents criminally if they disagree with otherwise legitimate parental decisions.
For example, the definition of “bodily injury” is “substantial physical pain, illness or any impairment of physical condition.” If a child is permitted to climb a tree does a parent create a “risk” of a child falling and experiencing “substantial physical pain”? If a parent fails to get a doctor-recommended, but not legally required vaccination (like a flu shot), has that parent now created a “risk” of “illness”? If a parent prefers natural healing or alternate medical therapies do they create a “risk” of an “illness” because they delay in bringing their child to a “regular doctor”? If a parent uses reasonable physical discipline (“spanking”) do they create a “risk” of “pain”?
West Virginia already has abuse and neglect laws under Chapter 49 that permits the state to investigate if children are suspected of being neglected or abused. Chapter 49 also permits the state to file a petition to take custody of children if there is probable cause to believe that parents are abusing or neglecting their children. Current criminal law also already makes it a felony if a neglectful parent causes bodily injury or through “gross neglect” creates a “substantial risk” of “serious bodily injury.”
HB 4004 and HB 4005 have been introduced and assigned to the House Judiciary Committee. Your action is needed to oppose this legislation by contacting the committee and asking them to vote against HB 4004 and HB 4005.
Because this bill affects all parents there is no need to specifically identify yourself as a homeschooling parent. Please contact the House Judiciary Committee and give them the following messages in your own words:
“I am calling to oppose HB 4004 and HB 4005 which create new and unnecessary misdemeanor criminal charges if a parent or guardian creates a ‘risk’ of bodily injury. Bodily injury means the potential for ‘pain, illness or impairment of physical condition.’ Parents who do not vaccinate their children, who spank their children, or who prefer non-traditional medicine could be at risk for criminal punishment because these could be argued to create ‘risks’ of these conditions. Risk is inherently subjective, and the definitions used in these bills are too vague to allow for criminal prosecution which ought to be reserved for the actual causation of harm or the creation of a more substantial risk of serious harm. Please oppose HB 4004 and HB 4005.”
You can contact the members of the House Judiciary Committee (and also your delegate, if a member of the committee) by using the following contact information:
If your last name begins with A-C, please contact these delegates:
Delegate Manchin —Chair
Delegate Ellem—Minority Chair
Delegate Lane—Minority Vice-Chair
If your last name begins with D-H, please contact these delegates:
If your last name begins with I-M, please contact these delegates:
If your last name begins with N-R, please contact these delegates:
If your last name begins with S-Z, please contact these delegates:
Thank you for all you do in defense of freedom for families in the great state of West Virginia!
Very truly yours,
Michael P. Donnelly, Esq.
P.S. We greatly value you and your support—it is a privilege to serve you! If you or someone you know is not a member of HSLDA, will you consider taking a moment today to join or recommend us? Your support for our work enables us to defend individual families threatened by government officials and protect homeschooling freedom for all. Join now >>
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Home School Legal Defense Association • P.O. Box 3000 • Purcellville, Virginia 20134-9000
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