Arizona may be known for a dry heat, a lion’s share of snowbirds and retirees, and the Grand Canyon, but the state seems to be vying for another title: The number-one state practicing what some are calling medical kidnapping.
Medical kidnapping is the removal of children from their homes by state authorities when a doctor’s decision is in dispute. Brian Shilhavy, author of the book Medical Kidnapping: A Threat to Every Family in America Today, describes the legal abduction of children “simply because the parents did not agree with a doctor regarding their prescribed medical treatment for the family.”
The procedure is on the rise across the nation, sparking watchdog groups to organize, ask questions, and delve deeper into child services departments in almost every state. But Arizona has risen to the top in this tactic, attracting unwanted media attention and prompting investigations into the Arizona Department of Child Services (DCS) and some supporting lobbying groups.
The Chandler Example
Officers busted down the door of a family in Chandler, AZ, in March and took three children into custody. As Liberty Nation’s Kelli Ballard wrote at the time, the officers were acting on a warrant issued after a physician contacted DCS because his instructions to take the two-year-old child to a local emergency room went unheeded. Police reports show several requests to enter went unanswered by the family.
When police took the kids into custody in the wee hours of the next morning, the tot had a normal temperature.
The parents were not arrested, but the children did not get to go home. Rather, they were placed in foster care until the parents could appear before a judge to determine custody.
It didn’t go well.
State’s Attorneys claimed the parents were uncooperative and hostile with DCS staff in a meeting and that police reported the house was “messy” and therefore should not get their kids back.
State Rep. Kelly Townsend (R), not knowing the family, was alarmed by the incident and told reporters: “It doesn’t say anywhere that after your kids are taken, after police bust down your door, that you have to be nice to DCS to get your kids back.”
This family is just the latest to endure what some are calling “Gestapo” tactics in the war between the medical community and parental rights. The Arizona Republic took a deeper look into the alarming incidents, seemingly one after another, and found that “on average, in fiscal year 2016, the Arizona Department of Child Services (DCS) removed one child somewhere in Arizona every 40 minutes.”
And citizens are rightly asking why.
Tin Foil Hat or Protective Armor?
A decade ago, one Georgia lawmaker, Nancy Schaefer, released a controversial report describing child protective services as a big, “corrupt business,” funding a host of professions. Schaefer refers to child protective services nationwide as a “protected empire built on taking children and separating families.”
Schaefer’s report focuses on the financial streams of foster care and is, at best, a frightening perspective:
“The Adoption and the Safe Families Act of 1974 offered cash ‘bonuses’ to the states for every child they adopted out of foster care … They must have merchandise (children) that sells and you must have plenty so the buyer can choose. Some counties are known to give a $4,000 to $6,000 bonus for each child adopted out to strangers and an additional $2,000 for a ‘special needs’ child … The funding continues as long as the child is out of the home. There is funding for foster care then when a child is placed with a new family, then ‘adoption bonus funds’ are available. When a child is placed in a mental health facility and is on 16 drugs per day … more funds are involved and so is Medicaid.”
Is that really what is going on with our national child protection service departments?
Who Watches Out for Families?
A loosely formed watchdog organization, Arizona DCS Oversight Group (ADOG), is asking a plethora of pertinent questions and have taken on the mantle of overseeing the overseers in the Grand Canyon State: They have their own ideas of what is happening and it’s not government transparency.
High on their list of possible partners in collusion with ADCS is the group Arizona Judicial Council (AJC). Created in 1990, the policy-making body oversees the judicial system in Arizona. But they are also registered as a lobbying organization with the Secretary of State and they promote what detractors are calling a controversial piece of legislation to allow more militant style midnight raids when the court deems necessary. It’s SB 1064, and it allows each court to “use certified court security officers to ensure the safe transaction of business of the court.”
And these court security officers “possesses and shall exercise all powers of law enforcement.”
Martin Lynch, from ADOG, sent a letter to legislators warning of the bill’s dangerous precedent:
“Judges have great security now. SB1064 creates ‘peace officers’ with unlimited powers and authority to operate anywhere as ordered by Judges. It also allows the Courts access to any records they request. This would enable them to identify and then arrest political opponents and their friends, breaking down doors in the middle of the night.”
While no one dismisses the need for an organization with state and federal jurisdictional power to keep an eye on our nation’s most vulnerable citizens, perhaps it’s time to review what might be driving its decisions. In the wake of several high-profile cases of medical kidnapping, it’s past time to reign in the overreach of child protective services nationwide and take a deep dive into what might be incentivizing the violent intrusions and family separations.
From big pharma, who has the medical industry by the throat, and overzealous case workers to prosecutors climbing the political ladder and judges with personal opinions – all must be put under the glare of the spotlight. As ADOG’s Lori Ford warns, “If they can do this to one family they can do it to anyone.”
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