Monday, April 21, 2008

FLDS mothers to Texas judge: Don't take away our nursing children

Motion also seeks prayer privacy, attorney access
FLDS mothers to Texas judge: Don't take away our nursing children
By Brooke Adams
The Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated: 04/21/2008 03:51:51 PM MDT

SAN ANGELO, Texas -- Mothers in the polygamous FLDS sect on Monday filed a motion for a temporary restraining order demanding access to attorneys, privacy in prayer and a halt to Texas child-welfare workers plans to separate them from their breast-feeding children.
Though filed specifically on behalf of four Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints mothers, the TRO is meant to include other mothers fighting to stop the state from taking their toddlers, who were taken from the sect's YFZ Ranch earlier this month.
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. That genetic screening began today. Texas Judge Barbara Walther set an afternoon hearing to further discuss the TRO motions.
The TRO also claims that since state officials have seized all cell phones from mothers and their children, they have no means to confer with attorneys. Further, despite CPS assurances that telephone access would be provided, that has yet to happen, the mothers argue.
State officials also have refused to provide mothers and children privacy to say their prayers, which the TRO argues is an unconstitutional intrusion on their right to practice their religion. "In one instance, it has
been reported that [CPS] workers . . . were vacuuming while the children attempted to pray. Without exception [the mothers] have reported that [CPS] will not let them pray without being monitored," the mothers claim.
The women insist they "have a right to pray without the watchful ears the department intruding" on a sacred religious rite. The TRO asks that the women be given 30 minutes of private prayer morning and night.
The judge also received 35 habeas corpus petitions representing the seized children "illegally restrained" by CPS. Those documents were filed on April 15, but were not available until Monday.
In yet another FLDS raid-related development, coordinating attorneys, legal aid attorneys and guardians ad litem announced an undisclosed number of 20-30 young women whose adult status had been debated had indeed been determined to be legally adults.

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