A new spin on the child in the wilderness


Recommended Posts

A new spin on the child in the wilderness

Get ready folks for another spin on the slippery slope of radical altruism versus radical selfishness. We have been going around and around on this issue one more time over on a thread in "Quotes" called Altruism. Well, check the following story out. I opened a new thread for this because it puts an entirely new element on the table: refusal to admit the efficacy of medicine and affirmation of the superiority of faith. What is the role of individual rights when a child's health is at stake? Here is the recent tragedy:

Parents Pick Prayer Over Docs; Girl Dies

By ROBERT IMRIE

Associated Press

March 27, 2008

From the article:

Police are investigating an 11-year-old girl's death from an undiagnosed, treatable form of diabetes after her parents chose to pray for her rather than take her to a doctor.

An autopsy showed Madeline Neumann died Sunday of diabetic ketoacidosis, a condition that left too little insulin in her body, Everest Metro Police Chief Dan Vergin said.

She had probably been ill for about a month, suffering symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, excessive thirst, loss of appetite and weakness, the chief said Wednesday, noting that he expects to complete the investigation by Friday and forward the results to the district attorney.

. . .

Leilani Neumann said she and her husband are not worried about the investigation because "our lives are in God's hands. We know we did not do anything criminal. We know we did the best for our daughter we knew how to do."

This brings up a very interesting situation that is real-life. In this case it is easy to simply say the responsibility and fault lay at the feet of the parents, but there is a hugely important objective value at root. The law does not legislate over miracles. I believe the lady when she said she was doing what she thought best for her daughter, but there is a legal stricture that ignorance of the law is no excuse.

So, should the law insist on licensed medical treatment for all children? If so, what about the right of the parents to treat their child as they see fit? Does the concept of individual rights as proposed by Objectivists and libertarians protect parents to the extent that they can replace medical treatment of their child with prayer? That sounds as dangerous as all get out to me. If not, what is the standard for protecting the child and what degree of medical knowledge is used as that standard? Are home remedies enough rights-wise—even when grossly inadequate and the cure is easy with modern medicine?

Going further in this direction, does a child have a right to medical treatment in the first place (reasonable or otherwise)? Who decides? The parents? The government? Or should the right to life not include medicine at all and only be the right to death?

Here is a second interesting angle. What if a child is found in an emergency with parents not around, a stranger happens by, the child can be extracted from the emergency with very little effort and/or cost by the stranger, but instead, the stranger decides to pray for hours to God for Him to resolve the issue—and the child dies?

Unfortunately this does not cut into the essentials of defining human nature, as I would prefer at this juncture, but it sure makes for one hell of an interesting problem.

Michael

Link to post
Share on other sites

Jail. Let the message go out: abuse, starve or beat your child you go to jail. Prayers are irrelevant. Maybe the stupid, irrational people will get the message: You can pray driving to the doctor. "Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition."

Now: three-hundred more posts?

--Brant

Link to post
Share on other sites

It's pretty clear-cut in this case--the human body objectively needs insulin, it's readily available, the parents withheld it, they killed her. There are other cases that are clear-cut the other way, such as when a child has cancer, the treatment lowers quality of life and where its anticipated value is questionable.

I think it's obvious that in the former case, we have a right to intervene, and it's just as obvious that in the latter case, we don't. But when society is mostly made up of unreasonable people, then any issue is "murky".

Shayne

Link to post
Share on other sites
A new spin on the child in the wilderness

Get ready folks for another spin on the slippery slope of radical altruism versus radical selfishness. We have been going around and around on this issue one more time over on a thread in "Quotes" called Altruism.

Michael, does anyone else see the issue that way except you? To me, near as I can tell from news media reports, the issue in this particular case seems totally clear: The parents are culpable for the child's death. No ifs, ands, buts about it. Surprised that this is my opinion? If so, this is because of your murking up the rights issues, not because of any issue of "radical altruism versus radical selfishness."

E-

___

Link to post
Share on other sites

All I can contribute to this ethical issue is personal experience. When I was a child there was a vaccine being given in Cape Breton (a region known for its absolute medical incompetence), my Mother, deeply religious Pentecostal she is, felt "God tell her" not to have me vaccinated. The vaccination ended up with hundreds of kids severely sick, I think a few suffered permanent damage. Its not as simple as saying faith bad medicine perfect. Quite often there are very good reasons to reject medicine in favor of alternative therapies.

We also know that religious persons live longer and more happily, with resulting psychosomatic effects, than the non religious so tying physical betterment to a family religious ritual is not entirely irrational.

It reminds me too much of what Dawkins wants in Britain, I mean where's the line here? Its one thing to say beating your kid is wrong, quite another to rule the widely held beliefs of the parent are not only wrong but criminal as well.

What did that lady say about basing ethics on extreme cases? The problem with this is I don't see how a general rule will not be derived from this case, a general rule so all encompassing it will be disastrous decided either way...

Link to post
Share on other sites
So, should the law insist on licensed medical treatment for all children?

Michael

Hell no, I don't want the government telling me how I should treat my child responsibly. Especially by people that the government has licensed. They tried that here in Texas, where Governor Perry wrote an executive order requiring parents to vaccinate their child against the HPV virus. Pharma's were about to bank before our legislature threw it out.

I think our laws in this situation are adequate. Parents are responsible for caring for their child. If a district attorney thinks that any parents have been negligent, and this has resulted in harm or death to the child then he can bring such evidence to a grand jury and seek indictment. If indicted, then a trial, judged by ones peers decides if the parents are at fault and what any punishment should be. Great system of checks and balances; parents decide what is best for their child, d.a.'s keep them in check, and they are judged by their peers in cases where they have not been responsible.

--Dustan

Link to post
Share on other sites
Jail. Let the message go out: abuse, starve or beat your child you go to jail. Prayers are irrelevant. Maybe the stupid, irrational people will get the message: You can pray driving to the doctor. "Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition."

Now: three-hundred more posts?

--Brant

Wolf DeVoon Posted Today, 12:54 AM

If I was the district attorney, I'd have them arrested and seek a grand jury indictment for murder 2, perhaps plea bargain to manslaughter or felony child abuse, but with mandatory jail time, at least 5-7 years.

W.

What good is putting them in jail going to do? Make sure they have no more children would be a much better action plan.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Jail. Let the message go out: abuse, starve or beat your child you go to jail. Prayers are irrelevant. Maybe the stupid, irrational people will get the message: You can pray driving to the doctor. "Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition."

Now: three-hundred more posts?

--Brant

Wolf DeVoon Posted Today, 12:54 AM

If I was the district attorney, I'd have them arrested and seek a grand jury indictment for murder 2, perhaps plea bargain to manslaughter or felony child abuse, but with mandatory jail time, at least 5-7 years.

W.

What good is putting them in jail going to do? Make sure they have no more children would be a much better action plan.

Doesn't jail prevent them from having children? :P

Link to post
Share on other sites
Hell no, I don't want the government telling me how I should treat my child responsibly. Especially by people that the government has licensed.

Dustan,

The point of my inquiry is not this, and please don't think I am trying to sneak in a collectivist-liberal agenda. Obviously in the case of the vaccine you mentioned, there were too many variables for proper objectivity and I am against such a law. The kind of case you mentioned is where drug companies get in bed with the government and try to push any old thing on people so they can make guaranteed profits. And if they don't have something sound to offer, they make stuff up. On the contrary of supporting this, I find it criminal.

My inquiry goes much deeper and touches on fundamentals. I am interested in the crack between where the rights of the parents end and the rights of children begin. Here is a common example. There is a religious group, Jehovah's Witnesses, who think it is a mortal sin to receive a blood transfusion. There are many documented cases where children have died, the illness was easlily treatable and cure was almost a certainty. But they were denied standard effective medical treatment because of the beliefs of their parents and they died as a result.

Doesn't such a case violate the right to life of the child?

Michael

Link to post
Share on other sites
Doesn't jail prevent them from having children? :P

Yes it does, but it also changes them from producing citizens to citizens under the care of the state and so contributes to the overall tax bill :angry: To me, prison should only be used when someone is a danger to society - as in a wild animal with little control of itself. There are other ways to keep these people from reproducing or adopting a child and they don't seem to be a danger to society in general.

Link to post
Share on other sites
The point of my inquiry is not this, and please don't think I am trying to sneak in a collectivist-liberal agenda. Obviously in the case of the vaccine you mentioned, there were too many variables for proper objectivity and I am against such a law. The kind of case you mentioned is where drug companies get in bed with the government and try to push any old thing on people so they can make guaranteed profits. And if they don't have something sound to offer, they make stuff up. On the contrary of supporting this, I find it criminal.

My inquiry goes much deeper and touches on fundamentals. I am interested in the crack between where the rights of the parents end and the rights of children begin. Here is a common example. There is a religious group, Jehovah's Witnesses, who think it is a mortal sin to receive a blood transfusion. There are many documented cases where children have died, the illness was easlily treatable and cure was almost a certainty. But they were denied standard effective medical treatment because of the beliefs of their parents and they died as a result.

Doesn't such a case violate the right to life of the child?

Michael

I don't think there is a cut and dried answer to this question. In one sense it's just bad luck that the child was born to these parents who have these primitive beliefs. We have no control about the circumstances or society we are born into, we have to make the best of it whatever it is. Unfortunately some don't make it to adulthood and so cannot make their own decision about inherited doctrine. Again, I don't think these problems can be solved by legislation and any expression of "rights" ultimately has to take this form.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Doesn't jail prevent them from having children? :P

Yes it does, but it also changes them from producing citizens to citizens under the care of the state and so contributes to the overall tax bill :angry: To me, prison should only be used when someone is a danger to society - as in a wild animal with little control of itself. There are other ways to keep these people from reproducing or adopting a child and they don't seem to be a danger to society in general.

The fact that society ought to be able to use prisoners as slaves (e.g. chain gains) is a separate issue.

Shayne

Link to post
Share on other sites
Jail. Let the message go out: abuse, starve or beat your child you go to jail. Prayers are irrelevant. Maybe the stupid, irrational people will get the message: You can pray driving to the doctor. "Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition."

Now: three-hundred more posts?

--Brant

Wolf DeVoon Posted Today, 12:54 AM

If I was the district attorney, I'd have them arrested and seek a grand jury indictment for murder 2, perhaps plea bargain to manslaughter or felony child abuse, but with mandatory jail time, at least 5-7 years.

W.

What good is putting them in jail going to do? Make sure they have no more children would be a much better action plan.

Doesn't jail prevent them from having children? :P

Jail would discourage other stupid, ignorant fanatics from doing the same.

--Brant

Link to post
Share on other sites

The only law that applies is the natural law. If someone is unable to remain alive then it is right that they die. If a child is unable to remain alive but there is a medical solution then so be it; i.e, the solution exists.

If that child's parents 'choose' to withhold medical treatment (for whatever reason) then THEIR child is going to die. Is it a proper function of other's (pronounce 'government' here) to intervene here? No!

The parents are 'fucking' insane; but that cannot be legislated against any more than rationality can be legislated for.

Link to post
Share on other sites
The only law that applies is the natural law. If someone is unable to remain alive then it is right that they die. If a child is unable to remain alive but there is a medical solution then so be it; i.e, the solution exists.

If that child's parents 'choose' to withhold medical treatment (for whatever reason) then THEIR child is going to die. Is it a proper function of other's (pronounce 'government' here) to intervene here? No!

The parents are 'fucking' insane; but that cannot be legislated against any more than rationality can be legislated for.

I appreciate your point of view, I don't think that parents should be required by law to provide arbitrarily expensive medical procedures for children, but insulin is practically a commodity, it's more akin to food and water than to a medical procedure.

Shayne

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 months later...

Michael,

Wasn't this poor girl in a diabetic coma? At what point does Freedom of Religion take a back seat to common sense? Her parents weren't even members of an organized church or religion. Such ignorance at the cost of a precious life. I wonder if they'll repeat prayers if their remaining children are critically ill?

I believe in freedom of choice. But such negligence should be avoided at all costs when a child can no longer say "I don't feel good", and the parents aren't rational enough to do what's "best" for the survival of their children. And with the ample availability of insulin, it could have been resolved easily. I think this case clearly violated her right to life, all 30 days of her struggle.

~ Shane

Edited by sbeaulieu
Link to post
Share on other sites

Shane,

The right to life of children is a hot topic that never gets resolved among Objectivists because the basis of rights, as Rand describes it (basically volition), applies only to adults.

The extreme cases I mentioned where faith healing is chosen over medicine and a child dies as a result is one case where "end in himself" (the child) has to take precedence over "free to choose" (the adult) for the world as I understand it to make any sense. I simply cannot condone withholding medical treatment from a sick child on moral grounds. That inverts the whole point of having rights and morality in the first place.

A right is not a moral sanction to kill the innocent.

I have been working (off and on) on redoing the concept of rights from the ground up, just for my own understanding for now. The best notion I have been able to come up with so far is (1) confine the entire issue of rights to a definition where the individual is the beneficiary (or holder) but society is a required part of the background, and (2) establish a large/small proportion (say, 80-20) of the individual/collective (species) nature of human beings and derive rights from there. This should be based on a composite of scientific measurements, so this proportion could change. That means that some duties to the helpless would be part of living in society, but freedom would be the major part. That formulation protects and includes all people within that society.

If rationally defined that way, meaning that a measurable standard is set according to observation and tests, I don't see how the small proportion could ever grow into enslaving adults as a main characteristic of society, which was the fear Rand had from what she had seen under communism. This is the argument you most hear against an idea like what I mentioned.

Society and new resources actually do play a part in this. In the case of medicine, for instance, if a person were on a desert island and no treatment was available to a sick child, faith healing as a last-ditch effort would not be wrong. But in a society where the cure is available and easily at hand, I just can't see where it is ever "the good" to withhold treatment and let the child die. To me that is raw evil.

Michael

Link to post
Share on other sites
A new spin on the child in the wilderness

Get ready folks for another spin on the slippery slope of radical altruism versus radical selfishness. We have been going around and around on this issue one more time over on a thread in "Quotes" called Altruism. Well, check the following story out. I opened a new thread for this because it puts an entirely new element on the table: refusal to admit the efficacy of medicine and affirmation of the superiority of faith. What is the role of individual rights when a child's health is at stake? Here is the recent tragedy:

Parents Pick Prayer Over Docs; Girl Dies

By ROBERT IMRIE

Associated Press

March 27, 2008

From the article:

Police are investigating an 11-year-old girl's death from an undiagnosed, treatable form of diabetes after her parents chose to pray for her rather than take her to a doctor.

An autopsy showed Madeline Neumann died Sunday of diabetic ketoacidosis, a condition that left too little insulin in her body, Everest Metro Police Chief Dan Vergin said.

She had probably been ill for about a month, suffering symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, excessive thirst, loss of appetite and weakness, the chief said Wednesday, noting that he expects to complete the investigation by Friday and forward the results to the district attorney.

. . .

Leilani Neumann said she and her husband are not worried about the investigation because "our lives are in God's hands. We know we did not do anything criminal. We know we did the best for our daughter we knew how to do."

This brings up a very interesting situation that is real-life. In this case it is easy to simply say the responsibility and fault lay at the feet of the parents, but there is a hugely important objective value at root. The law does not legislate over miracles. I believe the lady when she said she was doing what she thought best for her daughter, but there is a legal stricture that ignorance of the law is no excuse.

So, should the law insist on licensed medical treatment for all children? If so, what about the right of the parents to treat their child as they see fit? Does the concept of individual rights as proposed by Objectivists and libertarians protect parents to the extent that they can replace medical treatment of their child with prayer? That sounds as dangerous as all get out to me. If not, what is the standard for protecting the child and what degree of medical knowledge is used as that standard? Are home remedies enough rights-wise—even when grossly inadequate and the cure is easy with modern medicine?

Going further in this direction, does a child have a right to medical treatment in the first place (reasonable or otherwise)? Who decides? The parents? The government? Or should the right to life not include medicine at all and only be the right to death?

Here is a second interesting angle. What if a child is found in an emergency with parents not around, a stranger happens by, the child can be extracted from the emergency with very little effort and/or cost by the stranger, but instead, the stranger decides to pray for hours to God for Him to resolve the issue—and the child dies?

Unfortunately this does not cut into the essentials of defining human nature, as I would prefer at this juncture, but it sure makes for one hell of an interesting problem.

Michael

Under Objectivism "The Right to Life" simply means that since an individual possess life then he has a right to act accordingly.

Since a child is alive then he has a right to act in accordance with what that requires of him. But since a child is a child then his ability to undetstand what that means is limited. The responsibility to act properly, in regard to what the childs life is and requires, falls on his parents. The parents MUST act in accordance with the laws of nature governing of what a proper human existence is and requires.

The evidence seems to be suggesting the childs parents were (and perhaps asre) insane. The child suffered under the insanity demonstrated by his parents actions. That is not right but how can that be resolved.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now