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article imageOp-Ed: FLDS Women Desire Privacy During Prayer And The Right To Nurse Their Infants

By Pamela Jean     Apr 22, 2008 in World
The FLDS women being held by Texas authorities have made 3 requests. They would like to have privacy during prayers, they would like to continue to breastfeed their infants, and they would like to have phones to communicate with their attorneys.
Court papers filed early Monday contained requests made by the FLDS women currently being held in custody.
The first request seems reasonable enough. They have asked that they be allowed privacy while praying together. Currently they are under constant supervision and a Texas Department of Family and Protective Services worker is present at all times.
Judge Walthers response was a request that attorneys representing FLDS mothers and children ask local LDS congregations if they would be willing to “provide a buffer” for FLDS members who wish to pray in groups at a temporary shelter.
The president of the LDS Abilene Texas Stake, which oversees San Angelo, was surprised by the judge’s request.
“They think we’re the same ones because we use the Book of Mormon,” said Charles L. Webb. “I’m dumbfounded they would suggest that.”
Apparently state attorneys are concerned that if the mothers and children are allowed to pray in private they may communicate with each other in some sort of covert manner that would be detrimental to the state's case.
She acknowledged concerns from Texas child welfare authorities about improper communications between mothers and children that could occur in such private prayer times and have an affect on the pending investigations.
“If they cross the line or coach the child or make any kind of comment on litigation, all bets are off,” Walther said.
So, not only were these people rounded up like cattle and taken at gunpoint to be housed in makeshift shelters, they are now not allowed to pray in private as they might, while doing so, concoct some master plan of what? Escape? Mass Suicide ala Jonestown? Excuse me, but what happened to the first amendment rights here?
First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
OK - On to the second request.
Many of the women have children under the age of 2 which are currently being breastfed. The mothers have requested that they not be separated from their nursing infants.
Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) officials have repeatedly said they plan to separate all 416 children taken from the ranch — including those under 2 who are currently breast-feeding — once DNA testing determines maternity.
Judge Walthers refused to make any ruling that would allow breast-feeding mothers to remain with their children in state custody. She said she would leave it up to CPS officials and the attorneys to work something out regarding the breast-feeding issue, but not before weighing in with her own opinion in the matter.
Walther acknowledged the nutritional and bonding benefits of breast-feeding. “But every day in this country, we have mothers who go back to work after six weeks of maternity leave,” she said.
“The court has made a determination that the environment those children were in was not safe,” said Walther, adding that there is a shortage of suitable placements for infants in Texas.
Shari Pulliam, a spokeswoman for CPS, said the agency plans to proceed with plans to send the women home. “We don’t place adult women in foster care,” she said. “Our main thing is to protect children from abuse and neglect.”
So, essentially they are saying too bad, so sad - these nursing infants will be taken from their mothers' breasts when all is said and done. (I'm beginning to see the lines blurring here. Exactly who is committing the child abuse again? I'm confused)
The third request was for the mothers to have access to telephones to discuss their cases with their attorney's. Excuse me, but this had to be put in writing and brought to the judge for permission?! What kind of legal system are we working with that allows for the kidnapping of women and children from their homes and then denies them access to their legal council?
The women had cell phones at one point, but those were removed when they had the gall to contact the Deseret News and complain of cramped conditions. They also were so brazen as to take photos with the phones illustrating the conditions inside the Fort Concho facility they had been housed in. Shortly after the photos were sent authorities moved them to the San Angelo Coliseum where they are currently residing. (Guess the pictures were bad enough to prompt authorities to seek more suitable housing?) As a result of the women's "squealing to the press" their phones were taken away......that'll teach 'em.
Judge Walthers has now ruled that a phone bank be established for the prisoners - um, er women and children, with 6 phones for the children and 2 for the women. They will be granted access to their attorneys 24 hours a day.
It is hard for me to fathom that this is happening in this country. An entire community of women and children rounded up like cattle, housed in a coliseum, forced to take community showers, denied any privacy, denied the right to prayer and denied the right to breastfeed their own infants.
Is this still America - land of the free?
God help us all.
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