Tag: parental rights

Whose Rights Are Taken Away By Vaccine Mandates?

Why do some people continue to bring up anti-vaccine talking points and act like they are asking some profound questions?

What about my choice to send my kids to school and not worry about their being exposed to measles or another vaccine-preventable disease? #JustAsking
What about my choice to send my kids to school and not worry about their being exposed to measles or another vaccine-preventable disease? #JustAsking

I’m just asking…

Whose Rights Are Taken Away By Vaccine Mandates?

Do they not realize that these anti-vaccine talking point have been refuted a thousand times already?

For example, while ‘where there is a risk, there should be a choice” makes a catchy slogan, it is obvious that these folks only care about the rights, risks, and choices of those who don’t want to vaccinate their kids.

Remember that parents nearly always have a choice on whether or not to vaccinate their healthy kids, even if they live in a state without non-medical exceptions.

You don’t have that choice if your child can’t be vaccinated though.

And they very obviously only care about their imagined right to send their intentionally unvaccinated child to school, where they pose a risk to those who can’t be vaccinated and who have immune system problems.

Don’t parents who vaccinate and protect their kids have rights?

What about their right to send their kids to school and not have to worry about being unnecessarily exposed to a vaccine-preventable disease?

That’s especially important if their child can’t be vaccinated or can’t be fully vaccinated, including those with immune system problems or cancer, who may be immunodeficient because of chemotherapy.

More Anti-Vax PRATTS

What about the $4 billion in payouts from VAERS?

That’s actually from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Trust Fund, during a time when billions and billions of doses of vaccines have been given. And while the the great majority of those vaccines are given safely, since vaccines are not 100% safe, we have the Vaccine Court to help folks get compensated if they do suffer a vaccine injury.

But folks should be concerned that there are 200 new vaccines in the pipeline right?

Nope.

In fact, the “200 vaccines” in the pipeline include:

  • 124 for infectious diseases, including 36 to prevent or treat HIV, 25 to prevent influenza, including new nasal flu vaccines, 8 for RSV, and 8 for ebola
  • 105 for cancers
  • thirteen for allergies
  • eight for neurological disorders
  • seven for other conditions

So the only concerning part is that most won’t make it out of the pipeline and few are actually new vaccines to treat infectious diseases…

Of course it is also very concerning that they continue to push this kind of misinformation that scares parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

Why isn’t the media covering that more?

How about covering the fact that anti-vaccine folks continue to push the idea that vaccines are not tested against placebos, against saline placebos, aren’t tested together, and aren’t tested in long-term studies, despite the fact that they are?

Do We Need Vaccine Mandates?

It might surprise some folks, but vaccine mandates aren’t new.

What is relatively new are all of the exemptions that were added to the very effective vaccine mandates that helped eliminate measles in the United States.

Bob Sears warned us these measles outbreaks were coming. Of course, many people blame him for stoking those fears that made parents avoid the MMR...
Bob Sears warned us these measles outbreaks were coming. Of course, many people blame him for stoking those fears that made parents avoid the MMR…

It should be clear that we now need vaccine mandates without non-medical exemptions as too many people have been abusing these vaccine exemptions.

It’s a big part of the reason why we are seeing a rise in measles and outbreaks of other diseases.

How many will be enough?

Do we have to wait until more kids are dying before we get your attention?
Do we have to wait until even more kids are dying before we get everyone’s attention? Do we have to go back to the pre-vaccine era?

Do we need to wait until more kids are dying before we strengthen our vaccine mandates?

Or better yet, how about we put an end to spreading anti-vaccine propaganda and encourage more people to get vaccinated and protected so that we don’t need mandates?

Vaccines are safe, with few risks, and are very obviously necessary.

And for what it’s worth, science isn’t something that gets “debated in an open court of law.”

Debating science in the court room got us The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes or the Scopes Monkey Trial, which made it unlawful to teach evolution in schools.
Debating science in the court room got us The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes or the Scopes Monkey Trial, which made it unlawful to teach evolution in schools.

Neither should laws be made simply because our legislators are influenced by a very vocal minority of people who want to take away the choices and rights of everyone else so that they can send their intentionally unvaccinated kids to school.

More on Parental Rights and Vaccine Mandates

Who Is Arthur Caplan?

Plenty of folks claim to be experts on vaccines.

Some are experts because they study epidemiology, others because they study immunology or infectious disease.

And then there are the experts in vaccination ethics.

Who Is Arthur Caplan?

With a Ph.D. in the history of philosophy of science, Dr. Art Caplan went on to co-found The Hastings Center, a bioethics research institute.

Arthur Caplan does a good job of calling out folks who push anti-vaccine misinformation.
Arthur Caplan does a good job of calling out folks who push anti-vaccine misinformation.

He has since written dozens of books and nearly a thousand articles in peer-reviewed journals, working most recently at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, where he is the founding head of the Division of Medical Ethics.

“When politicians ignore the evidence, fail to cite appropriate medical authorities, and rely on hearsay and rumor, with the result that people — out of ignorance or error — don’t vaccinate their children, we can and should deny them elective office. When a doctor does so, we should demand that he forfeit his right to use his medical degree to misinform, confuse or lie.”

Arthur L. Caplan on Revoke the license of any doctor who opposes vaccination

It shouldn’t be a surprise that Art Caplan has a lot to say about vaccines.

“Faulty ethical thinking is to blame. We are elevating parents’ rights to make misinformed decisions over the rights of children to get important vaccines. Infants and young children are blocked from receiving their routine childhood immunizations by parents who espouse an aberrant ideology of choice or are being duped by anti-vaccine groups. In so doing, they are violating children’s rights to health, welfare and equal opportunity.”

Arthur L. Caplan and Peter J. Hotez on Anti-vaccine misinformation denies children’s rights

He also has a lot to say about measles, other vaccine-preventable diseases, and how to get control back before these outbreaks turn into true epidemics.

“What should we be doing to protect our communities, our children, and ourselves? We should halt the spread of anti-vaccine misinformation and take steps to stop nonmedical vaccine exemptions. We need to restore vaccines and vaccinations as the “new normal” in America.”

Arthur L Caplan on Let’s Treat Measles Seriously

Are you still thinking about skipping or delaying your child’s vaccines?

After reading some of Dr. Caplan’s work, you should know that it’s not safe, has no benefits, and isn’t the ethical thing to do.

More on Arthur Caplan and Vaccine Ethics

The New Medical Kidnapping Panic

Adults have the right, both morally and legally, to make decisions about their medical care.

What about kids?

Until they become adults, or are close to becoming adults, their parents or legal guardians have the right to make those decisions for them.

Challenging Parental Medical Decisions

There are situations in which a parent’s rights to make medical decisions for their kids can be contested. In general, you can’t make decisions that will obviously harm or put your child at extra risk.

“In most countries, parents have a legal right to make treatment decisions on behalf of their young children. Such rights are normally rebuttable: they can be set aside by courts where parents’ decisions pose a significant risk to the life or well-being of the child.”

Tim Dare on Parental rights and medical decisions

For example, if a parent continues to refuse antibiotic therapy and hospitalization for a life-threatening infection, like meningitis, then the child’s doctor will likely contact child protection services and get authorization to treat the child anyway.

What if you refuse a meningitis vaccine? Although a bad idea that puts your child at risk to get a vaccine-preventable disease, unless your child is in the middle of an epidemic, it is very unlikely that anyone would call child protective services on you. In the situations in which courts have gotten involved in getting kids vaccinated and protected, it was because an unvaccinated child was in foster care for another reason, two parents disagreed about vaccines, or rarely, there was an epidemic and the parents refused to either get vaccinated or stay in quarantine.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) believes that all children deserve effective medical treatment that is likely to prevent substantial harm or suffering or death.”

AAP on Religious Objections to Medical Care

Why do these cases come up, cases which certain folks call medical kidnapping?

“Parents are free to become martyrs themselves. But it does not follow that they are free, in identical circumstances, to make martyrs of their children before they have reached the age of full and legal discretion when they can make that choice for themselves.”

Prince v. Massachusetts

It may be that the parents:

  • refused treatment because of religious objections
  • thought that the risks and side effects of the treatment were worse than their child having the disease
  • want to pursue alternative treatments for cancer or other life-threatening conditions, instead of chemotherapy and other standard therapies, especially in situations in which standard therapy has a good chance of success
  • don’t believe the diagnosis is real and are pursuing other treatments that are harming the child
  • want to continue treatments that doctors think have become futile
  • have lost custody of their kids for reasons that have nothing to do with the child’s medical issues and so a legal guardian, which might be the state, is making those decisions now

Fortunately, these situations are not very common, no matter how much some folks try to scare parents that the state is coming to kidnap kids away and force them to get vaccinated or get other treatments. Yes, courts do sometimes have to step in and do what they think is right for a child over a parent’s wishes, but there is no epidemic of doctors or child protective services kidnapping kids.

The New Medical Kidnapping Panic

Although you can sometimes challenge the decisions a parent makes when their kids are sick, and in some cases, ultimately treat their kids in ways that those parents might not agree with, again, you can’t simply take or kidnap a child and do whatever you like.

“Physicians have both a moral obligation and a legal responsibility to question and, if necessary, to contest both the surrogate’s and the patient’s medical decisions if they put the patient at significant risk of serious harm.”

AAP on Informed Consent in Decision-Making in Pediatric Practice

Except in emergencies, overriding a parent’s wishes is usually a long process, involving second opinions, an ethics panel or team, child protective services, and the courts. In most cases, a judge, sometimes after several appeals, decides what will ultimately be done, looking at all of the evidence from both sides.

That the process takes time is evident when you look at the timeline from the legal battle for Alfie Evans. Although most people likely think everything began when the tragic story finally made headlines, a few weeks before his death, it was at least four months earlier that the hospital began “liaising directly with the family after disagreements over his treatment.” And it was four months before that, when Alfie was 13-months-old, that the hospital had first started talking about withdrawing life-support treatment.

It took a hearing before judge in the family division of the high court, three court of appeal judges, a review by supreme court justices, and a review by the judges at the European court of human rights for Alder Hey Children’s hospital to withdraw Alfie’s life-support treatment.

That the process took so much time was missed by those who push the idea of medical kidnapping. These same folks, in the case of Alfie Evans, are also pushing claims of vaccine injury, a plot to illegally harvest organs, a plot to cover up a misdiagnosis and medical neglect by the hospital, a plot to kill him with a lethal injection, and that others had a plan to help him get better.

Many of the same issues were raised in the case of Charlie Gard, an infant who was taken off life support at another UK hospital against his parent’s wishes.

Other cases have included:

What about when doctors disagree on a diagnosis and plan of care? Can parents simply pick which one they prefer?

In most cases you can.

Doctors have different styles and there are often different treatment plans for the same condition. The trouble typically comes when a parent chooses an alternative type treatment that has been shown to not work or is known to be harmful. Or provides treatments a child doesn’t even need.

Tragically, we often don’t hear about these cases until it is too late and the child dies before doctors and courts ever have a chance to intervene. When folks talk about medical kidnapping, they don’t seem to mention kids like:

  • Ezekiel Stephan – died at 19-months because his parents treated his bacterial meningitis with natural remedies, including “water with maple syrup, juice with frozen berries and finally a mixture of apple cider vinegar, horseradish root, hot peppers, mashed onion, garlic and ginger root”
  • Madeline Kara Neumann – the 11-year-old who died because her parents relied on prayer instead of modern medicine to treat her diabetes
  • Ryan Lovett – the 7-year-old who died with a Strep skin infection that his mother had been treating with “holistic remedies,” allowing it to progress to pneumonia, meningitis, and multiple organ failure
  • Louise Le Moaligou – an 11-month-old who died because her parents treated her pneumonia with “cabbage and clay compressions”
  • Gloria Thomas – died at 9-months because her parents pursued homeopathic remedies for her severe eczema, even as she developed malnutrition and sepsis.
  • Isabella Denley – a 13-month-old with severe seizures who died after her parents opted for alternative treatments over anti-convulsant medications, including a “vibrational kinesiologist, a cranial osteopath and a psychic who told them Isabella was suffering from a past-life trauma.”
  • Cameron Ayres – a 6-month-old who died with a likely inherited metabolic disorder that was treated by a homeopath with vinegar and honey
  • Eliza Jane Scovill – died of AIDS-related pneumonia at age 3-years. Eliza Jane was the daughter of Christine Maggiore, an HIV denialist who advised HIV positive moms to not take preventive antiviral drugs during their pregnancy, the one thing that would have kept Eliza Jane from getting HIV in the first place.
  • Alex Radita – the 15-year-old with diabetes who died because his parents wouldn’t treat him with insulin
  • Aidan Fenton – the 6-year-old with diabetes who died after undergoing slapping therapy by a Chinese healer, therapy that also involved fasting for “days on end.”
  • Garnett Spears – a 5-year-old who supposedly had multiple medical problems, but instead was poisoned by his mother, who was adding a lot of extra salt to his g-tube feeding bags
  • Gypsy Rose Blanchard – after a lifetime of being told she was “sick,” including having leukemia, muscular dystrophy, and seizures, Gypsy and her boyfriend stabbed her mother to death
  • the 6-week-old in South Texas with late onset vitamin K dependent bleeding who never received vitamin K prophylaxis at birth and died after developing brain bleeding and seizures
  • the 3-week-old in Indiana with late onset vitamin K dependent bleeding who was born in a birthing center and whose “parents signed a waiver to forego vaccination and prophylactic therapies,” and required an emergency craniotomy to evacuate braining bleeding, prolonged intubation, and difficult to control seizures
  • Tom, Roger, and Chrissy Williamson – the three children were taken to over 500 doctor appointments, put on medications for epilepsy, Crohn’s disease, Tourette’s syndrome, etc, and had unnecessary surgeries because their mother made doctors think they were sick
  • Amina Krouser – a 14-year-old who died after a neglected sore throat led to a life-threatening brain infection, for which her mother refused emergency surgery.
  • Christopher Bowen – an 8-year-old who had 13 major surgeries and 323 visits to the hospital because his mother fooled doctors into thinking he had a rare genetic disorder
  • the Oregon mother who’s three kids had unnecessary surgeries and were put on high dose “cocktails” of medicine, including one that she was trying to put in hospice

Trouble can also come when a child gets diagnosed or re-diagnosed with a more controversial condition. That seems to be what happened with Justina Pelletier, a teen who was kept and treated at Boston Children’s Hospital against her parent’s wishes. The doctors there doubted her original diagnosis, that she had a mitochondrial disorder.

“Unfortunately, mitochondrial genetic disorders can be difficult to diagnose, and many affected people may never receive a specific diagnosis. They are often suspected in people who have a condition that effects multiple, unrelated systems of the body.”

NIH on Mitochondrial genetic disorders

Similar to mito disorders, there are other conditions that are often difficult to diagnose, including Ehlers-Danlos, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), and Pediatric Autoimmune Neuro-Psychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcus (PANDAS).

Getting diagnosed or treated with these conditions wouldn’t usually be an issue, except that some alternative, holistic, and integrative health care providers take advantage of them. They might even stretch the disease definitions to make them fit almost anyone with vague symptoms and use treatments that many others would consider harmful, or at least unnecessary. It isn’t hard to see that even when a child gets a genuine diagnosis for one of these conditions, it might get questioned because they might have seen others that turned out to be misdiagnosed.

To be clear, these are all very real conditions that are almost certainly under-diagnosed because many doctors still don’t understand them. If you suspect that your child has one of these conditions, or any other rare condition, try and seek out a true expert to confirm the diagnosis. Does everyone who comes to the clinic get a diagnosis and list of supplements to buy? Then that likely isn’t the “expert” you want your kid to see.

Did you know that many of the DAN (Defeat Autism Now) doctors that once pushed biomed treatments to “cure” autism are now some of the same doctors continuing to push autism biomed treatments, but are now also diagnosing and treating kids with mito disorders.

And remember when all of those kids in LeRoy, New York developed tics for no good reason? One doctor, who actually runs a PANDAS institute, diagnosed many in the cluster with PANDAS.

It shouldn’t be surprising that many of these DAN doctors, including many who are not actually medical doctors, are also in the PANDAS Physicians Network Practitioner Directory.

Are they all cutting edge doctors helping to diagnose and cure kids when no one else can? Or as in the case of their autism biomed treatments, are they taking advantage of people looking for hope wherever they can?

Complicating matters further, some providers also diagnose kids with conditions like adrenal fatigue and chronic Lyme disease that most doctors don’t even think exist!

“Government should not get involved when doctors disagree about a diagnosis or course of treatment, the doctors have full knowledge of the child’s medical record, and a parent chooses one doctor’s opinion over another’s.”

Maxine Eichner on The New Child Abuse Panic

Government should not have to get involved when doctors disagree, but quack doctors shouldn’t be out there taking advantage of people either, especially to the point that it is going to harm a child. When they do, someone needs to step in and protect those kids.

And when you hear a story about a “medical kidnapping,” remember that you typically just get one side of the story. Because of privacy laws, the doctor, hospital, and CPS likely isn’t going to release any details that will help you understand why they felt the child was at risk.

Even more importantly,  when folks tell you that medical child abuse isn’t real and doesn’t happen, tell them about about the victims named above.

What to Know About Challenging Parental Medical Decisions

Challenging and taking away a parent’s right to make medical decisions for their child is something that is typically only done in extreme situations.

More on Challenging Parental Medical Decisions