Children Are Not Property

Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of Clostridium tetani endospores and vegetative cells, Gram-positive, anaerobic, endospore-forming, rod prokaryote.

Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of Clostridium tetani endospores and vegetative cells, Gram-positive, anaerobic, endospore-forming, rod prokaryote.

At the start of WC’s legal career women and children were still property of men in many states. Women have made great progress in erasing that historic detritus. Kids, not so much.

And no where is it more evident than in the childhood vaccine debates.

If a parent mistreats his or her children, the state can take custody. In extreme cases, the state can terminate the parents rights to the child. WC served as guardian ad litem in a distressing number of cases, representing the legal interests of the child. Make no mistake, there are parents who visit horrific harm and terrifying risk to their children. When that happens, legislatures have agreed, the parents control of their children, the parents right to treat their children as property, it is appropriate and necessary for the state to intervene. Because a state that doesn’t protect its children is committing a kind of suicide.

And yet states allow parents to insist their children be excused from vaccination programs. Even in the absolute absence of any credible evidence that vaccinations are anything but helpful, parents are permitted to deny their children protection from deadly diseases for irrational reasons.

It’s bad enough in the case of a disease like tetanus. The bacterium Clostridium tetani is ubiquitous. Bacterial spores found in soil can enter the body through the kinds of cuts and scratches children suffer all the time. It’s not readily communicable by persons with the disease. But tetanus, commonly known as lockjaw, is a fearsome, brutal, torturous killer. An anonymous 8-year old in Oregon, whose parents had denied him tetanus vaccinations, contracted the disease. The boy was saved, but it required 57 days of inpatient acute care, including 47 days in the intensive care unit. The inpatient charges totaled $811,929 (excluding air transportation, inpatient rehabilitation, and ambulatory follow-up costs). A tetanus infection does not confer immunity. Yet this child’s parent refused to vaccinate their child afterwards. After watching their child suffer the torture of tetanus, they failed to take the elementary step of vaccinating that child against a recurrence.

The irrationality of those parents imperiled their child; only through heroic efforts by modern medicine was his life saved. That same irrationality leaves the child exposed to the risk of it all happening again.

WC respectfully suggests these are unfit parents.

Parents who deny their children vaccinations for communicable diseases risk not just their children but other children and adults as well. Children too young to be vaccinated, or whose vaccination cycles are incomplete, as well as folks with genuine health conditions that prevent vaccination, all are placed at greater risk by the criminal foolishness of those parents. The ongoing measles epidemic in eastern Washington is an especially graphic example of the risks of tolerating irrational conduct by parents.

It’s time to re-think the requirement that parents meet the basic needs of their children. Those basic needs should include vaccinations for life-threatening diseases and highly contagious diseases. It’s much like the refusal to allow medical treatment of your children for religious superstitious reasons. There should be no excuses for killing your child, whether you kill them by denying vaccinations or kill them by denying medical treatment. Your children are not your property, to neglect, mistreat or harm as you will.1

It’s time outlaw human sacrifice of children.


  1. Ironically, most of these parents are also fervently “pro-life,” too. 

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