DENVER (AP) - Democrats on Tuesday rejected a Republican bill that would have given parents broad authority over their children's school curriculum and medical treatment.
The measure would have allowed parents to exempt their children from "any learning material or activity."
Republican sponsors have called it a needed check on government. The bill passed the Senate last month.
But Democrats and many child-advocacy groups said the measure goes too far. It would have limited schools and doctors from providing non-emergency medical care without a parent's permission.
Opponents called that pre-clearance requirement a recipe for hiding child abuse. It would also have prevented minors from obtaining birth control without a parent's permission.
"This bill can have dangerous unintended consequences," said Karen Moldovan of the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
The bill was amended to waive the notification for children reporting abuse. It was also watered down to remove a requirement that schools notify parents they may decline recommended vaccinations.
But Democrats said the bill remained too vague. "We need to approach this with a more surgical approach," said Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont.
A former social worker, Singer told the parents who waited many hours for a vote that the Legislature may address some of their more specific gripes, such as a bill to prohibit schools from retaliating against children exercising their right to skip statewide assessments.
The bill failed on a party-line vote of 6-7 in the House Public Health Care and Human Services Committee, with all Republicans in favor and all Democrats opposed.
The bill's outcome was never in doubt. But the Democratic-controlled panel listened for many hours to parents arguing that their rights to raise their own children are being usurped by government agencies and schools.
From encouraging parents to vaccinate their children to at times taking too long to respond to emails, a litany of government complaints underscored the main gist of the hearing - that some parents feel the government has too much control over child-rearing under the guise of protecting kids.
"All this bill does is protect the rights of those parents," said Rep. Lois Landgraf, R-Fountain, who sponsored the abuse amendment.
LINK: Senate Bill 77
- By Kristen Wyatt, AP Writer
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