You Do Not Own Your Children

Nothing irks me more than the anti-vaccine rally cry of “My Child, My Choice” or the insistence by parents of unvaccinated children that their decision to eschew preventative care is a parental right.

The moment the nurse hands your baby to you, you cannot help but examine every square centimeter of her. Those tiny fingernails, those puffy eyelids, those little ears–every piece of the baby needs a nibble or a nuzzle. The feelings of being forever tied to this little body and this young life or overwhelming.

But those feelings do not give you ownership rights over your child. As your child grows, it becomes obvious that you cannot make your child be or feel or live the way you choose. Your child’s life belongs to your child. Your child ultimately owns his own body and is growing into the responsibility of caring for himself. As your child grows, it is your responsibility to take care of him. You are not your child’s owner; you are his caretaker.

Yet, the anti-vaccine movement gets far in framing the vaccination as a freedom-of-choice and parent rights issue. Mothering magazine maven Jennifer Margulis argues:

Unlike in the United Arab Emirates, in America we believe parents are capable of making their own decisions about their children’s health. We believe in freedom of choice. This freedom of choice extends to when — and even whether— parents vaccinate their kids.

Her wording is clever. We aren’t those terrible un-American Arabs, we are American (cue John Philip Sousa). Either you believe in some sort of vague, repressive, Sharia law philosophy, or you are for freedom, America, and allowing parents to refuse vaccines.

What exactly is this choice that anti-vaccine activists think they have a right to? One conservative magazine published an article that claimed: “If parents think that getting measles is a lot better than acquiring a lifelong mental disorder, they should be able to make that choice, especially for diseases that aren’t generally deadly.”

In other words, if parents believe, despite all evidence to the contrary, that vaccines cause autism and that autism is worse than measles, it is only American to give them to right to make medical decisions based on these falsehoods. The right to refuse vaccines for your child is the right to believe fear-mongering about autism, to believe that autism is the worst possible outcome while also believing that measles isn’t a big deal, to deny that globally, 17 people die from measles every hour every day. It is to think that those measles deaths happen to the other people far away and to choose to believe that the woman in Washington state who just lost her life to measles is part of some conspiracy.

Anti-vaccinationists assert that they have the God-given right to make medical decisions about and for their children, but basing these decisions on the worst possible misinformation casts doubt on whether or not they are capable of making such decisions.

In the end, however, their capabilities are irrelevant. No parent has complete and unfettered rights to making medical decisions for their children. Just ask the parents of Daniel Hauser, who were ordered by the court in 2009 to bring their son in for chemotherapy for his Hodgkins Lymphoma.

The Journal of Ethics summed up the issue of medical care and parental rights well:

Medical neglect statutes examine whether appropriate care was provided, not how it was provided. A parent who refuses care based on an objection to treatment, whatever the basis, is just as likely to have the state intervene to make medical decisions as a parent who is not physically able to provide care or not mentally capable of making decisions.

Anti-vaxxers love their children and their beliefs are sincere, but they don’t own them and they do not have complete, unobstructed say over their children.

But what of choice? Isn’t choice American, even if the choice is wrong? After all, many people choose to listen to Nickleback or cheer for the Packers. Isn’t it American to defend the wrong choices of others because we believe in freedom?

Unlike putting cheese on your head or listening to bad music, the choice to refuse immunization for your children has consequences for other people: people going through chemotherapy or people who have undergone organ transplants or people who are new and too young to be immunized. America might be about freedom, but we are also about responsibility. If Nickleback carried the potential to kill children with cancer, we would outlaw them forthwith.

Lastly, children have rights. Parental rights are equal to the rights of the child, not greater than them. Children have the right to be taken care of and to be protected against things which might harm them. For this reason, we mandate by law car seats, educational standards, and bicycle helmets for children. A parent’s belief system is never factored into the freedom to choose these mandates. If we hand over full ownership of a child to any parent, we might as well erase decades worth of work gaining rights for children.

I have no doubt that anti-vaccine parents want the best for their children and want to protect them. However, their intentions and beliefs ought not to overrule the rights of their children to best medical practices. Though an anti-vaccine parent wants the best for her child, the science tells us that they are not providing the best for their child. The issue has nothing to do with freedom or choice or parental rights. It’s about keeping kids from getting sick.

Advertisements

18 thoughts on “You Do Not Own Your Children

  1. Your entire article is wrong. Parents do have a say over their children/child. Parents against vaccines have done more research than most doctors Doctors are not taught how vaccines are made, what type of cells that are used, what they grow the viruses in, and all the highly toxic ingredients in the vaccines. Vaccines are biological blood products, with foreign proteins and DNA from the animals they are growing the viruses in. As with any blood product, there are high risks. Please do more research into what are really in vaccines and how they are made. Have you ever wondered why these children are getting cancer, autoimmune, and neurological diseases? Eventually those who believe in forced vaccination are going to change in the future, when it damages their child or children. It is only a matter of time.

    Like

      • I could refute every damn word in this article but I’m so tired of debating ignorance.
        The source of those illnesses are vaccines!!! Yes, my child’s body belongs to my child but until she’s 18, you better damn well know she is owned by ME AND ONLY ME! She sure isn’t owned by you or my local community or society as a whole. The measles isn’t shit. I have had them and so has nearly everybody else I know in my generation and the generations before me because it’s a NORMAL childhood disease.
        And the lady in Washington you referred to as dying from the measles???? First off the article is obviously misleading and typical journalism bias. She was already on medications that suppressed her immune system (another reason to stay clear of pharma products!). Her suppressed immune system was what allowed her body to contract the illness. And it wasnt measles that killed her. It was pneumonia. Yes, we all know that pneumonia is a possible complication from measles but you can’t verify that her pneumonia was caused by the measles 100% in this case based on one lousy misleading article! Maybe she was a smoker or already had lung cancer or emphysema or some other pre-existing condition that WOULD EXPLAIN her already being on pharma products that originally suppressed her immune system. Just because measles was one of the issues this lady had didn’t mean measles killed her.
        Get a grip!

        Like

    • Congrats on not doing proper research yourself. If you took the time to verify the sources for any anti-vaccine article, you’d see they all lead back to the same falsified report by the “doctor” who made stuff up to reach that singular conclusion, and then made his OWN vaccines to take advantage of his so called “results”.

      Vaccines are important in protecting not just the lives of the people vaccinated, but also those of the people around them. They’re the reason that Small pox and Polio are no longer common, and several diseases that are recently coming back were almost gone because of vaccines, but due to Anti-Vaxers have been making a come back.

      Finally, regarding all of the “Toxic” ingredients, don’t even dare make a claim of how dangerous they are unless you yourself are a bio-chemist. You have no idea how much of any particular thing is necessary to fall under dangerous levels (guess what, none of the stuff listed in vaccines is at such a level), and you probably consume the stuff in natural food at higher levels than are in vaccines.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’m going to go through the comment above line by line and address each point its writer made, so I apologize in advance to those reading my response if it gets a little long.
      “Your entire article is wrong.” No, it isn’t, and all those red words that link to the sources of the information prove it. “Parents do have a say over their children/child.” You’re right, they do; however, it is not a limitless power that cannot be overruled if it is in the child/ren’s best interest to do so. For example, there have been many cases where a children have needed chemotherapy/radiation or a blood transfusion and the courts have sided with doctors and hospitals when the parents attempt to refuse lifesaving measures. “Parents against vaccines have done more research than most doctors.” No, just no. First of all, reading mommy blogs and articles on mercola.com and Natural News does not constitute “research”; second, what do you think doctors are doing in the 10+ years they spend in school and the 4+ years they spend in residency and internships? “Doctors are not taught how vaccines are made, what type of cells that are used, what they grow the viruses in, and all the highly toxic ingredients in the vaccines.” Do you need to know in detail how your car was made, what types of hammers and screwdrivers are used, and what they mold the parts in? You don’t need to know every detail of the manufacture of every product you use to know how to use it. Unless the doctor is also a lab scientist with a focus on immunology, there is no need for him to know any of that. As for the last clause of that sentence, apparently you never took chemistry and biology in high school or college. None of the ingredients used in vaccines are toxic at anywhere even close to the miniscule amounts that are present in vaccines, and some of the ingredients are found naturally in the food you eat, the beverages you drink, the air you breathe, and (believe it or not) some even occur naturally in your own body. “Vaccines are biological blood products, with foreign proteins and DNA from the animals they are growing the viruses in. As with any blood product, there are high risks.” This statement is completely false. Vaccines are not blood products, and I’d love to hear where you heard that from. While it is possible (albeit unlikely) that a minute amount of DNA may find its way into the vaccine, there is nothing harmful about it. The vast majority of things you eat are made up of DNA and proteins. You aren’t going to turn into a chicken from eating that sandwich yesterday, and any DNA that might happen to be in a vaccine isn’t going to affect you in any way. Since vaccines are not a blood product, the second sentence is invalid. “Please do more research into what are really in vaccines and how they are made. Have you ever wondered why these children are getting cancer, autoimmune, and neurological diseases?” Children (and adults) have gotten cancer, autoimmune, and neurological diseases since man first walked on the earth. Other species are susceptible to them as well. There is no evidence that vaccines cause or contribute to any of them. “Eventually those who believe in forced vaccination are going to change in the future, when it damages their child or children. It is only a matter of time.” I have yet to hear anyone speak in favor of forced vaccination. Even if you live in a state that has eliminated exemptions except for medical reasons, no one is forcing you to be vaccinated. You have the ability to choose not to vaccinate and no one is going to hold you or your child down and forcibly jab them with a syringe. All that has occurred is that you, like everyone else on this planet, now gave consequences for the decisions you make. From the first time we tell our parents “No!” as toddlers, we learn that our decisions have repercussions. Sometimes those are positive and sometimes they aren’t pleasant at all, but all decisions have consequences. The consequence of not vaccinating your children is having to find alternative schooling or homeschooling, because while it’s your right to decide not to vaccinate, it’s my right not to have my children exposed to those who may be infected with vaccine-preventable diseases for seven hours a day, five days a week.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Erin, thank you for this measured, coherent, accurate and thorough reply. I’m in an area that has high rates of vaccine refusal, and I’m always encouraged when I read stuff like this article and your response which indicates that many have done actual research. On science. And evidence. (It’s easy to forget living here).

        Like

    • Are you kidding me? You’ve done more research than 99% of the medical community, in fact you know more from your research “internet search” than people who went through med school. More than immunologists or toxicologists. No you don’t, to say so is just arrogant. You’re not an expert, you’re not awakened, you’re not more educated . You’re being arrogant and using such arrogance to put everyone else in danger. That’s really all there is to it.

      Liked by 1 person

    • That is the most ignorant shit I’ve heard today! YOU need to educate yourself! And stop reading garbage on garbage websites.
      You are all so high and mighty in your ivory tower forgetting the fact that nearly every family used to lose some children to diseases that we have all but wiped out! Your arrogance boggles the mind!
      Science is science, you can’t cherry pick which science u believe and which not! If you or your kids needed a triple bypass you would be ok with the science done to get us where we are and trust the doctor to have your best interest in mind yet when it comes to vaccinations you think they are lying to you when they say it is harmless in nearly 100% of cases?! You are in a cult, you are a cult member and are blinded by paranoia and all the fear mongering that is perpetuated by you and your ilk! You make me sick! I wish there was a vaccine against you! Every parent who loses a child to a vaccine preventable disease wakes up and pray that u never have to lie awake with the terrible truth dawning on you that you were lied to and conned and that as a result your kid is dead! You are protected because the rest of us vaccinate! Vaccinate your damn kids!

      Like

  2. Great article Karen. As I keep saying to antivax parents misusing the word “freedom”: with freedom comes responsibility. Parents need to act responsibly and care for their vulnerable children by following the proper preventative care recommendations. Being antivaccine and denying your children proper medical care (and endangering herd immunity in the process) is not “freedom”, it is reckless and irresponsible.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Anti-vaxers love to say they are doing it “for the children” but the truth is that they are simply narcissists who think they know better than everyone else. Just look at their empty rhetoric over SB277 in California: they constantly trumpeted “parental rights”, but not a word about children’s rights.

    Theirs is a particular mindset which wants to believe that they are somehow able to pierce the veil of disinformation that clouds the minds of the rest of us. They see themselves as having access to information that others do not; as being in on the secrets that are denied to the rabble; as being “awake” when the rest of us are, I guess, asleep. It makes them feel important, and gives their lives some sense of purpose. Challenging their ideas is pointless, since by the peculiar, circular logic of the conspiracy-minded, anyone who disagrees with them is just proving their point.

    Liked by 2 people

    • it is the same mindset that leads some to believe their God will favor them and the rest of us will go to hell.

      Like

  4. I assume you are against abortion, then, because killing the unborn gives parents rights over the child’s rights.

    Like

  5. Here’s food for thought:

    Research is getting pretty close to developing a vaccine for AIDS. In fact, preliminary results look optimistic. If that vaccine was available to children, would you make sure they were vaccinated against it? Or would you refuse it and take the risk of letting your child contract the incurable disease because “ANTI-VAXX! EVIL PHARMA!”

    http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/02/19/health/new-approach-to-blocking-hiv-raises-talk-of-an-aids-vaccine.html?referrer=&_r=0

    Like

Comments are closed.