Measure six poses threat to the children of North Dakota

Everyone has been talking about Measure 1, and they certainly should be. But there’s another measure on the ballot this Nov. that is just as important.

It’s called Measure 6. It claims it will create a presumption that each parent is a fit parent entitled to be awarded equal parental rights and responsibilities by a court unless there is clear and convincing evidence to the contrary.

I wish people could realize right away what a bad idea this is, but there are some that actually think this bill is a good thing. Allow me to explain why I think they’re wrong.

First of all, making an assumption that a parent is a fit parent on the sole basis that they have a kid is not a logical assumption to make.

How many stories have we heard about physical and sexual abuse, either done by or allowed by parents? Or how about parents that might not be legally unfit, but are just terrible parents in general?

Just because somebody has a kid does not mean they should. There are plenty of terrible parents out there, and most times we don’t find out about it until the abuse has been going on for years and years, if we ever find out at all.

That right there is my main problem with this measure. It forces the parents who actually do have concern for their children to be on the defensive. Now, during a custody battle, they may have to go through a lengthy and painful process to prove that the other parent is unfit, while the other parent, even if they are a terrible parent, automatically gets legal protection until it is clearly and convincingly proved otherwise.

The supporters of this measure claim there are plenty of good parents out there whom the system occasionally fails, and while this is true, it is nothing short of pure idiocy to simply assume from the beginning that all parents are good parents.

One of the arguments in favor says that mothers tend to be favored by the courts, and the fathers often tend to be cut out of the picture entirely. That may happen, but this measure is not the way to address the problem.

This measure has the same problem as Measure 1 in that it is so poorly worded that it could have dire, unforseen consequences that the legislatures never considered.

Another problem with this bill is that it shifts all the focus to the parents. However, the parents shouldn’t be the focus of this. The real focus should be the children.

It claims to be defending children, supporters of it claim that cutting one of the parents out of their life is a bad thing, but I believe this is a bad assumption to make universally.

Sometimes some parents need to be cut out, because they don’t deserve to have kids in the first place, sometimes it’s not actually feasible for both parents to have equal parenting simply because of location. Sometimes both parents shouldn’t have the same influence.

This goes back to what constitutes legally unfit. Sure there is physical and emotional abuse (although given our court system’s track record with catching that in time, good luck proving that “clearly and convincingly” in court).

But what about other less tangible negative effects?

The fact of the matter is that some parents should just not have children, even though they might not fit the legal definition of unfit.

This bill is overly idealistic and impractical since it assumes that we live in a better world than we do.

Trust me, I would love to live in a world where we could just automatically assume that anyone with a kid was a good parent. You and I both know this is not the world we live in.

Consider Adrian Peterson, for example, a parent who beat a four year old to the point of drawing blood and isn’t even sorry about it. He’s certainly sorry that people are paying attention to it, but he thinks this is a normal thing to do.

In a world where people like that exist, are we honestly supposed to assume from the beginning that all parents are fit parents?

Admittedly, in the Adrian Peterson case, it would be easy to prove he was an unfit parent and should not ever be allowed near children. But sometimes it’s not that easy.

When you go out to vote this November on Measure 1 (which I hope you do) you should also consider Measure 6 and the potential implications.

Mike Rauser is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected].