A new foster care bill is currently making its way through the California legislature, and according to The California Family Council, it contains some disturbing “rights.” Introduced by Assemblyman Mike Gipson, AB-175, known as the “foster care bill of rights,” mandates that foster children have access to abortion, care for sexual assault, and contraception, all “without the knowledge or consent of any adult.” The bill also restricts parental supervision and requires foster parents to give children access to computer technology and the Internet.
Among the bill’s list of rights for foster children are the following troubling sections, with wording taken from the bill:
- Right to abortion. “At any age, to consent to or decline services regarding contraception, pregnancy care, and perinatal care, including, but not limited to, abortion services and health care services for sexual assault without the knowledge or consent of any adult.”
- Right to secret communication. “To make, send, and receive confidential telephone calls and other electronic communications, and to send and receive unopened mail unless prohibited by court order.”
- Right to the Internet. “To participate in extracurricular, cultural, racial, ethnic, personal enrichment, and social activities, including, but not limited to, access to computer technology and the internet, consistent with the child’s age, maturity, developmental level, sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression.”
READ: Eight myths and misunderstandings about foster care… and the truth
As can be seen in the video below, Greg Burt of the California Family Council expressed great concerns about the above, along with other provisions in the bill, which went largely unaddressed by Gipson. Even Democratic State Senator Richard Pan expressed concern about a lack of age/developmental specifications for some of the “bill of rights” provisions, and he noted that at present, it is unknown how determining this would play out amongst foster youths, foster parents, and social workers. In the video below, Greg Burt of the CFC begins his remarks at approximately 9:55:
As written, the bill appears to eliminate many rights for foster parents and increase the dangers to foster children. According to the bill, a child who is being victimized or abused could have an abortion and her foster parents would have no way of knowing what was going on. How can parents help if they are kept in the dark? The abortion industry and its leader, Planned Parenthood, has been known to neglect the reporting of abuse, leaving vulnerable young women to continue to be victimized.
Additionally, when foster parents must provide unlimited access to the Internet and respect the right of secret phone calls and texts, they may be unwillingly giving a child access to a predator right in their own home. Cyber-bullying and cyber-predators are among the top threats for children online. In order for foster children to be truly protected, they need to be placed in homes where they will be provided with loving guidance, protection, and oversight — things which are, as Senator Pan noted, not specified in this current bill.
“Foster parents care deeply about their children, and desperately want to protect them from abuse. But how can they do this if the state keeps them in the dark, even if in cases of rape?” asked California Family Council President Jonathan Keller. “Surely Assemblyman Mike Gipson doesn’t expect these brave foster parents to merely provide room and board while kids run their own lives. No good mom or dad would neglect their kids this way.”
AB-175 will next be heard in the state’s Senate Judiciary Committee on July 9.
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