Thursday, December 08, 2005

Should the state have taken this child from her parents?

I just saw this on Primetime and it's got me really thinking. For those of you who don't feel like doing a lot of reading... a beautiful, three year old little girl died of what may have been AIDS related causes. Her mother who is HIV+ does not believe in taking drugs to combat the HIV and didn't take them while she was pregnant. She also breastfed her daughter and refused to have her tested for the virus.
So now there's a large contingent of people who lay the blame for her daughter's death on her head. And, at least some who say that if an HIV+ woman has a baby and refuses to have the baby tested for the virus - her child should be removed from her custody by the state.
So my question, I guess, is this...does the state have the right to compell a parent to have their child undergo medical testing or treatment? If we allow exceptions for people who have a "religious" objection to medical treatment, then why is this woman's belief different? She strongly believes that it was in her daughter's best interest to be breastfed, to not be tested, to not be exposed to anti-viral drugs in utero. Who gets the final say about a child's healthcare? The parents or the state?
I feel like I have to say that I didn't "like" this woman. Had it been me, there is no way I could have risked feeding my child a fatal virus. But I can't help but wonder why this is different than choosing whether or not to have your child vaccinated or to give them a blood transfusion. And if we say that it's okay to take a child away from his or her parent because they don't make the *right* medical decisions, then a lot of us may be in trouble.

2 comments:

molly said...

I have had many of the same thoughts... Where do we draw the line...? It can be complex!

Shannon said...

It's so hard to say that parents always have the right to make decisions for their children when we know that some parents will make the wrong ones and children will be harmed by them. But we can't trust the state or anyone else to always make the best decision either. And it boils down to the fact that God gave parents the right to decide for their children. So I have to stand for that even when I don't like the parents or their decisions.