Professor Appell supports the use of the traditional parental rights doctrine, which accords biological parents, particularly mothers, parental status alienable only voluntarily or upon proof of unfitness. She defends the doctrine against the criticisms that it is regressive and does not protect the interests of children or de facto parents. She contends that the attacks on traditional parental rights doctrine are misguided because they work to the disadvantage of families who do not easily fit the dominant norm-minority, single-mother, lower income, or politically and legally under-represented families. After examining the constitutional underpinnings and application of the parental rights doctrine as well as proposals to change it, she concludes that the doctrine provides more concrete standards than any alternative and serves to protect those families most vulnerable to intervention or dissolution.

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