With the current measles outbreak in our country, I started to wonder if the government should force parents to vaccinate their children for the safety of the child and the general public.
While it may sound radical, forcing medical treatments against the parent’s wishes is not without precedent.
In 2015, a Hartford, Connecticut, teenager was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. With treatment her chances of recovery would be 85%; however, without treatment the condition is 100% lethal within two years.
Her parents rejected conventional treatments, so the state stepped in and forced the child to receive chemotherapy. She survived and is now in remission (1).
Members of the Jehovah’s Witness church will refuse blood transfusions for religious reasons. However, the state has forced the parents to allow their children to receive transfusions in emergency situations.
What about the parent’s rights to raise their children as they wish? The courts have already made a determination on this issue.
- Courts throughout the western world recognize that parents have rights but additionally recognize that these rights are not absolute and exist only to promote the welfare of children. Prince v Massachusetts12 set out the reigning legal principle: Parents may be free to become martyrs themselves. But it does not follow that they are free, in identical circumstances, to make martyrs of their children (2).
What are your thoughts on this matter? Should parents be forced to have their children vaccinated?