Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Children & Vaccines: Is "Choice" a Holdover from Biblical Ideas?

I am fascinated by the idea of "morality," and especially by the canard that religion is the source of it.  This week politicians have been opining about vaccination, with some incredibly stupid quotes making the rounds.  One egregious one is by Rand Paul, who has an M.D.   He has (in)famously repeated the discredited notion that vaccines cause changes in brain function.  Apparently he hasn't heard of the post hoc fallacy, nor has he heard that the article that started the whole lie has been retracted by the journal that published it.

That essential soundbite has been repeated on CNN numerous times (I don't watch FOX or MSNBC), but the part afterward is what caught my attention.  He says "The state doesn't own the children.  The parents own the children."

Whoa.  Children are chattel?  I thought owning people was outlawed in 1865!

I tried googling for coherent moral arguments about this, and found that it's not an uncommon concept.  Rand Paul knew exactly what he was saying when he used this shocking language;  the religious right and right-wing libertarians believe in this notion.  He was whistling to his dogs.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child specifically addresses the outdated notion that children are chattel.  The United States signed it but Congress hasn't ratified it.  Naturally, homeschooling Christians who want to force sub-par anti-science "education" on their captive audience are behind the opposition.

The full text is here.  Article 24 would be the essential one to the issue of vaccination:

Article 241. States Parties recognize the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and to facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health.States Parties shall strive to ensure that no child is deprived of his or her right of access to such health care services.

2. States Parties shall pursue full implementation of this right and, in particular, shall take appropriate measures:

(a) To diminish infant and child mortality;
(b) To ensure the provision of necessary medical assistance and health care to all children with emphasis on the development of primary health care;

(c) To combat disease and malnutrition, including within the framework of primary health care, through, inter alia, the application of readily available technology and through the provision of adequate nutritious foods and clean drinking-water, taking into consideration the dangers and risks of environmental pollution;
(d) To ensure appropriate pre-natal and post-natal health care for mothers;
(e) To ensure that all segments of society, in particular parents and children, are informed, have access to education and are supported in the use of basic knowledge of child health and nutrition, the advantages of breastfeeding, hygiene and environmental sanitation and the prevention of accidents;
(f) To develop preventive health care, guidance for parents and family planning education and services.
3.States Parties shall take all effective and appropriate measures with a view to abolishing traditional practices prejudicial to the health of children.
4. States Parties undertake to promote and encourage international co-operation with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of the right recognized in the present article. In this regard, particular account shall be taken of the needs of developing countries.

Note that the assumption is that only in developing countries would ignorance and superstition be detrimental to child health!

Although they don't specifically state that nobody "owns" a child, they do have a provision for trafficking:
Article 35States Parties shall take all appropriate national, bilateral and multilateral measures to prevent the abduction of, the sale of or traffic in children for any purpose or in any form.
Since parents are often the ones who "sell" children, this seems to obviate the idea of a child as chattel of the parent.

Funny that when it comes to abortion, the right-wingers think the fetus has more rights than the parent, but when it comes to vaccination or education the child only has a right to be a pawn in religious politics.

1 comment:

L.Long said...

Its like they say pro-life isn't!! They are pro-fetus and once born, you're phucked!!!
And the anti-vaxx shows that completely.
The owning kids thing I can remember from my catlicker daze. And in fact some of our laws support this, as a parent I'm 100% responsible for the kids, if they have a drunken party, I WILL BE ARRESTED. So if I am punished for their behavior then they will do as I say or else!!!
But they do not need to FORCE anyone to be vaccinated...kids that are NOT vaccinated are not allowed in public school!!!!
Just that rule would solve a large %-age of the problem.