Parental Rights at Stake in Case of Minn. Mother and Teen “Emancipated” by State


In June 2017, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit of a Minnesota mother, Annmarie Calgaro, whose then 17-year-old son was emancipated from her by a county and several medical clinics without any due process on the mother’s part. That case was appealed in July 2017 by attorney Erick Kaardal and the Thomas More Society and heard in the Atlanta-based federal appeals court last month.

As previously noted, the judge had made what the Child Protection League (CPLAction), who is supporting Calgaro’s efforts to reclaim her parental rights, characterized as a “bizarre and contradictory ruling”:

“Only a court order can do so [terminate Calgaro’s parental rights]”, wrote Judge Magnuson. “Absent that, Calgaro’s parental rights over [her son] remain intact. The court will therefore not further entertain Calgaro’s characterization of Defendants’ actions as ‘determining [her son] emancipated.’”

CPLAction went on to ask the question at the heart of the case:

How do Calgaro’s parental rights “remain intact” when she has been denied access to his school and medical records, and the organizations she named in her lawsuit have treated her minor son as “emancipated” for two years?

…Anmarie Calgaro appealed to a federal court because her parental rights, and the rights of numerous other Minnesota parents, have been violated, but, incredibly, no state law has been broken. However, it is abundantly clear, her constitutional 14th amendment rights to due process have indeed been violated. And the court refused to address this issue. [Emphasis added.]

They then went on to say:

This case challenges a Minnesota state law that violates the rights of parents to have their day in court if their minor child desires emancipation and immunity from his parents’ supervision and authority.

It was this critical parental rights issue that Kaardal argued in the appeal based on the longstanding 2000 U.S. Supreme Court precedent Troxel v. Granville. This opinion affirms thousand of years of history and multiple other Supreme Court cases by making the constitutional “presumption that fit parents act in the best interest of their children.” Troxel also says that unless government entities can show evidence that the parent is not fit, there is “no reason for the State to inject itself into the private realm of the family to further question the ability of that parent to make the best decisions concerning the rearing of that parent’s children.”

According to the press release by the Thomas More Society:

Kaardal argued that St. Louis County [Minn.] determined, without any legal basis, that the child was emancipated and could receive government benefits, even though Calgaro was a “fit parent” who objected to their actions.

According to Kaardal, Minnesota’s language regarding non-judicial administrative emancipation is unconstitutional under the Due Process Clause of the federal constitution and state law presents no procedural due process rights for “fit parents,” even though state law does so for those alleged to be unfit in child protection cases. “Why wouldn’t we provide the same court procedural due process for fit parents?” Kaardal asked.

Kaardal is particularly concerned about the conflict in legal statutes. “There’s a real disconnect in the District Court decision where the mother’s parental rights are admitted but not honored. At the same time, the District Court claims those agencies which are clearly violating Calgaro’s acknowledged rights are doing nothing wrong,” explained Kaardal. “The U.S. Court of Appeals needs to untangle this legally incompatible scenario by stating how the law of parental rights and emancipation work administratively by addressing emancipation law and procedures in a way that protects parental rights. Most importantly, the Court must ensure that any state law violating those parental rights is struck down as unconstitutional.” [Emphasis added.]

Aside from this fundamental parental rights issue, there is the ongoing issue of the harm of gender dysphoria and the tragic “affirmation” of teens by major medical societies with life-altering puberty blocking drugs that result in sterility and sex-change surgery. Yet, according to both the American College of Pediatricians (ACP) and former Johns Hopkins chief of psychiatry, Dr. Paul McHugh, citing The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, “as many as 98% of gender confused boys and 88% of gender confused girls eventually accept their biological sex after naturally passing through puberty,” and the suicide rate is 20 times higher for gender dysphoric adults who have undergone hormone treatment and sex reassignment surgery even in very LGBTQ-friendly countries like Sweden.

ACP executive director, Dr. Michelle Critella, also said in a peer-reviewed journal article:

A review of the current literature suggests that this protocol [hormone blocking drugs] is rooted in an unscientific gender ideology, lacks an evidence base, and violates the long-standing ethical principle of ‘First do no harm.’

Despite all of these problems, Calgaro’s son received that kind of medically and ethically challenged life-changing sex change surgery and puberty blocking drugs, along with county and school services to implement this medical “care,” all without parental notification or consent.

There are also many other ways that the radical transgender elements in American culture and government are pushing this ethically and medically bereft notion on younger and younger children:

  • The efforts by some school districts and even states to continue to implement the Obama-era transgender guidance (discussed here) requiring school districts to allow transgender students to use the bathroom and locker room or join the sports team corresponding to their gender identity instead of their biological sex, despite the rescission of that guidance by the Trump administration

If we want to prevent the U.S. from turning into countries like Norway, where the government is expanding control of what should be parental decisions about the raising, education and medical care of children, then we must fight to support parents like Annmarie Calgaro and the organizations like the Thomas More Society, CPLAction, and others that assist them.

Karen R. Effrem, MD

Dr. Karen Effrem and her husband have three children. She is trained as a pediatrician and serves as national education issues chairman for Eagle Forum and president of Education Liberty Watch.

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