Tuesday, February 3, 2015

"Parents Own Their Children!" Do They?

"The state doesn't own your children.  Parents own the children," said Senator Rand Paul when asked about his views of immunizations, which he considered a "question of freedom."

How far does freedom actually extend.  How free are parents to "own their children?"  Parents do not own their children.  Parents are not free to physically abuse their children, they are not free to decide how their children are seated and belted in a moving vehicle, they are not free to decide whether or not their children are to don helmets when biking, parents are not free to leave their children unattended at home or in a car.

Parents are not always a child's best friends!  The government doesn't "own" your children, but it has a vested and moral interest in their welfare and takes on the responsibility of insuring that all children are provided a degree of protection - decisions about which they are too young to make on their own.  A parent, though perhaps free to make decisions concerning his own health and welfare, ( i.e. foregoing certain medications, or smoking) does not have the moral or legal right to subject his minor child to ill health and danger!

There have been many situations where the state has assumed control of a child's care in cases where parental decisions were deemed injurious to minor children.  As a hospital-based pediatric cardiologist, I have witnessed such proceedings, and have testified in such proceedings.

Parents do not own their children.  Minor children are too young to make informed decisions.  Parents, though free to decide their own fates, should not be permitted to put their children at risk in the face of a safe, well documented, and proven preventive or therapeutic practice that protects or overcomes such risks to life and to health.

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