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State Regulation of Family Life is on the Rise

by James Silberman Read Profile arrow_right_alt

Among the most foundational worldview differences between conservatives and progressives is the conservative position of family being the cornerstone of society vs the progressive position of the government being the cornerstone of society.

For conservatives, the monogamous union of man and woman is the vehicle for creating babies and raising them according to certain values. To progressives, the nuclear family is the single greatest bulwark against the growth of government power, hence the Marxist rallying cry for the “abolition of the family.” Marx and Engels knew that for the state to expand and establish the egalitarian utopia, the family order had to be broken down.

With that as a preface, let’s survey the national landscape as it relates to state regulation of the family.

Oregon and Washington are considering passing legislation which would mandate visits from state agents to the homes of all families with newborn children.OR SB526 states that its passage is “necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health and safety,” and that the lack of government oversight of Oregon parents is an “emergency” that must be resolved by the end of 2019. OR SB526 has the backing of Governor Kate Brown. Washington Governor Jay Inslee is pushing for this legislation in his state as well.


PJ Media columnist and homeschool advocate Paula Bolyard explains these laws from the perspective of someone who has dealt with ample state regulation of family life.

“As someone who has been involved in the homeschooling movement for more than 20 years, I have seen many attempts to increase the oversight of children taught at home by requiring home visits by a teacher or social worker. The basic premise behind these attempted power grabs is that parents cannot be trusted with the care of their own children — that an agent of the state is the only one qualified to ensure that children are being properly cared for. Without such surveillance, proponents argue, children are at risk for abuse and neglect, something they believe government agents can prevent, despite volumes of evidence to the contrary. In Oregon, in fact, children in the foster care system are abused at twice the national rate. One wonders how a state that can’t handle the children currently in its care could possibly manage to surveil an additional 40,000 children per year, let alone pay for such a program (answer: it can’t).


Anytime a state or locality has tried to draft legislation requiring home visits for homeschooled children, the immediate response has always been, “What are they going to do next, require inspections for children from birth until they enter school?” The answer to that, of course, is yes. That has been the plan all along. Universal preschool, universal health care, universal free lunches — the lot of it — is just a surreptitious way for the state to monitor its citizens and control their behavior by handing out freebies.”

Iowa Democrats are also attempting to gain oversight of families, specifically those of homeschoolers. IA HF272 would mandate quarterly “health and safety visits” to homeschool families by school district officials. The bill states that these visits would be with the consent of the parents but also specifies that parents can be overridden if a judge determines there is probable cause for home inspection. “The juvenile court or district court upon a showing of probable cause may authorize the person making the home visit to enter the home and interview or observe the child,” the bill states.

Red flags should be all the way up at this point. “Probable cause” is, of course, the legal designation for a situation where a judge determines that state agents have the authority to seize and search the property of a suspected criminal. With no explanation given as to what constitutes probably cause, the “crime” appears to be parents not wanting Big Brother monitoring their families.

Scott Woodruff of the Home School Legal Defense Foundation expressed dismay with the underlying assumptions made by the legislation in an interview with Caffeinated Thoughts.

“Rep. Mascher’s HF 272, in addition to resurrecting long-dead paperwork requirements for homeschool families, treats them all like criminals. Without explaining who is going to pay for it—with school and child protective personnel already stretched beyond the breaking point—she wants to command that state agents come into the homes of every single homeschool family in the state four times a year.

In what world do we waste money poking into the homes of thousands of people when there is not the slightest reason to believe an individual has done anything wrong?  When people who believe that the government can, and should, solve all problems, this is the kind of utopian dream they dream.  Dreams like that only get us closer to an Orwellian world.”

The objective of progressives is for the state to become the providers for and protectors of its citizens (who in such a society would not be citizens but serfs). As the state attempts to usurp these uniquely parental roles, conservatives should push back by rejecting oversight and clinging more tightly to our children.

As the Democrats become more and more open about their embrace of socialism, it’s important to remember that socialism is more than an economic theory; it’s a social theory too. The Green New Deal may seize much of our country’s means of production, but these bills in Iowa, Oregon, and Washington foreshadow the coming attempts to seize the family unit and the roles contained therein.

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