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Mental Screening Bill Alarms Parental Rights’ Activists

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Can the state snatch up your children simply because you refuse to administer psychiatric drugs to them?

Texas law says “no,” but that doesn’t mean they won’t try.

As in many other areas of government, the long and expensive process of fighting an unconstitutional or illegal order is punishment enough to incentivize your compliance.

So it’s no wonder why parental rights’ activists are worried about HB 1600.

The bill, authored by Reps. Senfronia Thompson, Four Price, Eddie Lucio III, Greg Bonnen, and Gene Wu, will be heard tomorrow, March 14th in the Public Health Committee.

Only a page and a half, HB 1600 adds a new section to the Human Resources Code that appears to affect children covered by CHIP (Child Health Insurance Program) and Medicaid. These programs cover mostly low-income, disabled, or foster children.

Under HB 1600, children aged 12 to 18 would be subjected to mandatory mental health screenings.

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights recently sent out an alert explaining that the bill does not address parental rights to opt in or opt out. Lee Spiller, Executive Director of the Texas chapter explained to us that the screenings are already taking place by departmental rule, and that this bill aims to codify it.

The CCHR alert warned that the procedure for screening children’s mental health is not based on objective, scientific testing. In fact, there is a lack of X-rays or brain scans in these screenings. There aren’t any lab tests at all. The screeners rely on “professional judgement” and subjective checklists.

Spiller argues that Texas kids, particularly those in foster care, are overmedicated, and that the long-term effects on these children could be severe.

There are many documented instances in Texas where children hospitalized by the state are being administered many psychiatric drugs simultaneously, without parental consent, to control their moods and behaviors. Spiller pointed us to the case of “Amanda” as reported by Mother Jones. This is one such horror story that illustrates what can happen when the state involves itself in mental health.

Amanda was taken from her parents by the state for alleged suicidal tendencies. She was

involuntarily hospitalized and medicated with at least 12 psychiatric drugs. She was restrained and forcibly medicated at least 26 times. Her parents were unable to see her or prevent this treatment for five months.

Needless to say, Amanda and her parents suffered irreparable emotional trauma from the ordeal.

But there are other long-term effects that must be taken into account. There is a stigma on children with mental diagnoses. They may carry these stigmas with them their whole lives.

And with these stigmas, we have to consider the digital paper trail of the modern age. Will these children grow up on government watch lists? Will they be denied their rights to bear arms, for example, simply because a bureaucrat has checked a box on a Medicaid form?

Activists say this is a slippery slope. We will hear what the politicians say tomorrow.

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