Pennsylvania Family Institute was in the state Capitol this morning on your behalf as we arranged for expert testimony before the House Children and Youth Committee.

We asked Mark D. Freeman, Esq. to testify against Senate Bill 27, a bill that would require physicians and other medical practitioners to provide county child protection agencies with all “relevant” information on a child – medical records, etc. – where there is suspected child abuse – and – without the knowledge or even, notification, of the parent or guardian.

As it stands, this is dangerous to families in Pennsylvania. This bill alters a parent’s right to the care, custody and control of a child, a fundamental right, without any due process afforded to the parents. Medical personnel are already mandated to report suspected child abuse but there is a process that must be followed (called “due process” in American law) that includes notice to the parent or guardian, provision for legal defense, etc.

Bottom line: There should be no problem investigating child abuse AND protecting innocent families.  They are not mutually exclusive concepts. Pennsylvania Institute opposes SB 27, but will work with members of the committee to amend the bill to protect due process and parental rights. The bill has already passed the State Senate and was referred to the House.

Also testifying against the bill was T.J. Schmidt, legal counsel for the Home School Legal Defense Association.

Below is a portion of attorney Mark Freeman’s testimony today to the House Children and Youth Committee.

I share the concern the Committee and all Pennsylvanians have that children in our Commonwealth are sometimes abused by parents and caregivers.  We all have a zero tolerance policy towards child abuse.  As is the case with most things in life, there are usually competing considerations; in this case the competing consideration to the protection of children is the fundamental right a parent has to the care and custody of a child.  

After representing innocent parents falsely accused by the treating doctors of abusing their children in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Oklahoma and Canada, I have personally seen the harm inflicted on innocent families by misguided and mistaken county employees and doctors.    Due process is the only counterbalance and protection innocent families have against false accusations of abuse.  By approving a measure that permits treating doctors to secretly collude with county investigators, in dereliction of their duty of confidentiality and duty of good faith and fair dealing, without notice or any due process to the parent, you will be participating in doing violence to many innocent Pennsylvania families.  I urge the panel to reject any provision that eliminates a doctor’s ethical duty to obtain informed consent from the parents of a minor child.