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Victory and Defeat for Parental Rights in Sacramento

The final day of California’s legislative session is always a whirlwind. Today, parents have reasons to rejoice, but also lament. 

SB 866 from Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) would have let any minor, 12 or older, obtain vaccinations without parental consent. After passing the Senate by just one vote, Wiener amended the age of consent to 15 when introducing it to the Assembly. 

But after months of pressure from California Family Council and other parental rights advocates, Wiener could not garner the necessary support and pulled SB 866 from consideration Wednesday morning. Critics rejoiced to see this assault on parental rights from the San Francisco politician defeated.

“Legislators are finally opposing Senator Wiener’s attempts to place a wedge between parents and their minor children,” said Jonathan Keller, President of California Family Council. “Too often, government officials assert they are better equipped to raise children than their parents.”

But on the same day Wiener withdrew SB 866, he received overwhelming Democratic support for SB 107. This dangerous proposal authorizes California courts to take “temporary emergency jurisdiction” over out-of-state minors if they come to the state for so-called “gender-affirming” care.

In reality, these extreme procedures are fraught with peril. Puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and irreversible surgeries can lead to sterility, further depression, and even suicide.

“SB 107 is one of the gravest threats to parental rights in recent years,” said Keller. “If Governor Newsom foolishly signs this measure, California should brace for lawsuits. Other states’ Attorneys General will not sit idly by as California steals children from parents who don’t want them sterilized with these trans-treatments.” 

Wiener’s proposal now heads to Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk for a decision. Newsom has until September 30 to sign or veto the measure.

It’s not hard to see how activists could quickly weaponize SB 107. Since the bill instructs state agencies to ignore the circumstances of how a child came to the state for gender transitioning, SB 107 invites children to run away from their families or even be trafficked across state lines.

Senator Scott Wiener claims to be fighting against what he called “brutal attacks on transgender children” in states passing laws to protect minors from sterilizing puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and mutilating surgeries. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton put out a statement explaining why he thinks trans drugs and mastectomies on healthy minors violate Texas’ child abuse statutes. States like Alabama, North Carolina, and Oklahoma have passed or introduced laws to ban trans-treatments, while other states are considering bans. 

“SB 107 declares war on parents throughout the country who don’t want their children disfigured and sterilized. Studies show that more than 80% of gender dysphoria cases resolve themselves after a child reaches adulthood,” said Greg Burt, Director of Capitol Engagement with the California Family Council. “Senator Wiener thinks he is making our state a haven for kids, but SB 107 turns California into a threat to every family in the country.”

Senator Wiener was challenged in the Assembly Public Safety Committee by Assemblyman Kelly Seyarto regarding how SB 107 violates the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act, which obligates states to honor child custody judgments of other states. Wiener denied that his bill violates the Act and even claimed, “the bill does not involve rejecting judgments or child custody judgments.” (Watch the entire hearing here)

But the Committee’s own analysis says the opposite, stating that the bill gives “California family courts” the authority to “make an initial child custody determination” or take “temporary emergency jurisdiction” of a child in the state “for the purpose of obtaining gender-affirming care.”

If that is not clear enough, read how the non-partisan, authoritative Legislative Counsel’s Digest describes SB 107. “The bill would additionally prohibit a court from considering the taking or retention of a child from a person who has legal custody of the child, if the taking or retention was for obtaining gender-affirming health care or mental health care.”

Alliance Defending Freedom says SB 107 violates the U.S. Constitution and federal parental rights laws. “SB 107 violates parental rights protected by the U.S. Constitution by giving California courts the ability to strip parents who reside in another state of their parental rights if their child travels to California to obtain gender transition procedures – including harmful puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and irreversible surgeries,” the ADF memo states

“SB 107 would override the jurisdiction of courts in a family’s home state that are usually the proper forum for custody determinations. SB 107 could also conflict with various federal laws, including those governing which state courts have jurisdiction to determine child custody and federal laws governing extradition requirements between the states.”

Matthew McReynolds, a senior attorney with the Pacific Justice Institute, believes this bill provides an exception for potential instances of kidnapping.

SB 107 “takes a flying leap over the precipice,” McReynolds explained. “Actually declaring that it will welcome and protect kidnappers—including parents who have been adjudicated as unstable and unfit to care for their children—as long as the adult absconding with the child says they are doing so to put the child into gender-hormone therapy or some other, Orwellian gender-affirming care.”

“SB 107 may be the most brazen assault on fundamental parental rights in the history of this state,” McReynolds warned. “This is not a game, a spoof, or a joke. Families who thought they had escaped California will not be safe if this bill is enacted. It is time for citizens to call their legislators en masse to let them know they will be swept out of office this November if this bill passes.” (Read McReynolds letter of opposition here.

Other California attorneys have expressed similar concerns. “SB 107 is a direct assault on parental rights and state rights which will cause great damage to children and families if enacted,” said attorney Dean Broyles, president of the National Center for Law and Policy. “It seeks to make California a sanctuary state for parents or guardians desiring to unilaterally facilitate the child abuse of minors struggling with gender dysphoria. It decimates the legal jurisdiction of other states, carving out an exception to well-established and universal legal prohibitions on kidnapping by allowing children to be unlawfully brought to California, as long as the purpose is to seek ‘gender-affirming care.’”

Broyles continued: “Gender affirming care, in reality, is just a euphemism for medical child abuse—specifically giving children hormones that will sterilize them for life and lopping off perfectly functioning God-given body parts. The social science is clear that most children are not prepared to make this important life-altering decision at a young age and that most will come to deeply regret it later,” he said. “Adults who aid and abet this travesty should not have a get-out-of-jail-free card here in California. State-sanctioned child abuse is still child abuse. This extreme legislation will further cement California’s dark legacy as a pariah state.”

The president and founder of Protect Our Kids, Mark Schneider, Esq., is also appalled at the bill’s implications for parental rights. “SB 107 would elevate the dangerous practice of ‘gender-affirming health care’ to a legal status never before granted to a state jurisdiction,” Schneider explained. “It would pit state against state and parent against parent.”

“It would enable grave and potentially irreversible emotional and physical harm to the most fragile of our citizens – our children,” Schneider said. “Furthermore, it demonstrates scorn for some of our nation’s most relied upon legal principles, like the Full Faith & Credit clause, along with decades of civil, criminal, and constitutional law. Worse yet, it is a further and unprecedented assault on parental rights. SB-107 must be stopped.”

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