No one understands the needs of children like their parents. This is true in nearly every facet of a child’s life. The love I have for my own children cannot be matched by any individual, agency, or organization on this Earth. No one — not a teacher, medical provider, or the government — understands best the emotional, physical, and behavioral patterns of a child like parents do.

This truth brings us to the crossroads we’re at today between the rights of parents and the Colorado General Assembly in regard to crucial healthcare decisions. 

What we’ve seen this legislative session is the stripping away of those rights parents inherently have and have always had.

Parents must have a say in very serious and potentially life-altering medical decisions; whether for mental health, reproductive care, or any care for that matter. However, this responsibility and role of the parent is being eroded away. At least two bills in the General Assembly this session are clear examples of these infringements on parental control and rights.

House Bill 1003, School Mental Health Assessment, will direct government-controlled mental health screenings in public schools for children in grades 6-12 if passed. The results will allow for children to be referred for mental health treatment under the government-controlled “IMatter” program.

The program allows parents to opt out their children; however, children 12 or older can opt-in without their parent’s consent or even knowledge. In such cases, the state is essentially removing parents from the equation of the mental health problem. The state government is signaling to parents not only that they are unneeded in their child’s mental health struggles, but that they potentially aren’t even important enough to know the problem exists.

Senate Bill 189, Increasing Access To Reproductive Health Care, was recently signed into law by the governor.  This bill allows a child to consent for “contraceptive procedures, supplies, or information” without the requirement of “consent of the minor’s parent or parents, legal guardian, or any other person having custody of or decision-making responsibility for the minor.”

Think of the implications of such legislation. Your child, a minor still in grade school, can consult about sex with a medical provider you’ve never met and receive birth control or even an abortion without your knowledge. It’s hard to imagine a more invasive and intrusive violation of your rights as a parent.

When did the government come to believe it has such control over our children? Where does it believe it derives this power to strip parents of their ability to make decisions on what’s best for their child’s healthcare? Where do state lawmakers believe this power ends and the parent’s rights begin? Does the government know better than the very parent that brought the child into the world and has spent nearly every waking moment with them?

If such issues are not the responsibility and role of the parent, then you effectively have no rights as a parent in the state of Colorado.

It’s a sad reality, but it can’t be understated that the overwhelming majority of Democrat lawmakers in Colorado who passed these bills in either the House, Senate, or both along partisan lines no longer view parents as partners; rather, they view parents as barriers to legislate around. Our children are battling a multitude of very genuine healthcare issues currently and need our help, but the government cutting parents out of the conversation is certainly not the solution.

Brandi Bradley, of Littleton, represents District 39 in the Colorado House of Representatives.

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State Rep. Brandi Bradley

Brandi Bradley, of Littleton, represents District 39 in the Colorado House of Representatives.