Are the Rights of the Polygamy Mothers Being Violated?

In an interesting twist on the polygamy story out of Texas, the mothers are speaking out against being separated from their children by Child Protective Services. CPS made the decision to separate at least 57 women from more than a fourth of the 416 children taken into custody. Of the 416 children, nearly 300 are four years of age and younger.

The mothers who were removed from their children were given a choice: They could return home or seek refuge in a safe house. Only six of the women opted for the safe house and 51 returned to the ranch. One of the mothers said, “the world has been so prejudiced against us. They have a false image.”

A CPS spokeswoman says,

"We believe that children who are victims of abuse or neglect, and particularly victims at the hands of their own parents, certainly are going to feel safer to tell their story when they don't have a parent there that's coaching them with how to respond."

The women's reaction to the CPS decision crystalizes a conundrum. Saying, "I never thought this would happen in America" and "They [the children] haven't seen abuse until this experience" calls into question the righteousness of the state's action. If all but six of the women returned to the compound and the girl who made the initial call identifying abuse hasn't been identified yet, are we imposing prejudiced ideas of how children should be raised?

A hearing for the children begins tomorrow. Is this an act of justice on behalf of the children, or a gross violation of the notion that it "takes a village"? Are we too prejudiced about alternate lifestyles? Are the women within their rights as mothers to choose the environment in which to raise their children as long as they're not suffering abuse? Does compound living in itself constitute abuse?

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