by Brian Shilhavy
Editor, Health Impact News
A story out of Arizona that we first reported at the beginning of March has received national attention, due to video footage of police breaking down the family’s door in the middle of the night because the parents did not take one of their children who had a fever to the local hospital at the request of a doctor.
The police and social workers removed all 3 children from the home. See:
Police Break Down Door of Arizona Family at 1 AM to Medically Kidnap 3 Children Because Parents Refused to Take Child to Emergency Room with Fever
In our original coverage of this story, we mentioned a quote from the parents that they did not vaccinate their children, but the parents did not, at the time, think this was a factor in their removal.
In a follow up report published in the Arizona Republic by Dianna M. Náñez after the parents’ first court hearing, Arizona Representative Kelly Townsend, who attended the court hearing, stated:
“It was brought to my attention that these parents may have been targeted by the medical community because they hadn’t vaccinated their children.”
Arizona law allows for parents to opt out of vaccines for their children for religious or medical reasons.
Townsend said parents who don’t vaccinate their children because of medical concerns aren’t criminals and shouldn’t be treated as such. She worried physicians were using it as a reason to refer parents to DCS.
“I think if DCS decides to use this as a factor they would be violating a parent’s right to have a personal exemption, a religious exemption and perhaps a medical exemption,” she said. (Source.)
Townsend, who helped pass legislation in Arizona that requires DCS to obtain a warrant before removing a child from their parents when there isn’t “imminent danger” to the child’s life, was outraged at the response of law enforcement.
“It was not the intent (of the law) that the level of force after obtaining a warrant was to bring in a SWAT team,” Townsend said. “The imagery is horrifying. What has our country become that we can tear down the doorway of a family who has a child with a high fever that disagrees with their doctor?”
The fact that DCS obtained a court-approved warrant shows this wasn’t an emergency that threatened the child’s life or safety so there wasn’t time to file with the court, she said.
“What about parents’ rights to decide what’s best for their child?” Townsend said. “Parents felt the child was fine. Next thing we know, the Gestapo is at their door.” (Source.)
To make matters worse, when the children were removed from the home, they were all placed in separate foster-care homes.
Not only were the children separated from their parents, but this was also the first time they’d been separated from each other. (Source.)
The judge ordered that the children be placed with the grandparents while the parents worked with DCS on reunification plans.
Read the full article at the Arizona Republic .
Time to Change Mandatory Reporter Laws?
Every state in the U.S. has Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect laws. Doctors and medical professionals are among those mandated by law to report suspicions of child abuse.
As we have reported numerous times here at Health Impact News, doctors fear reprisal if a patient fails to take their advice, and are therefore quick to report parents to Child Protective Services (CPS) if their advice is not followed.
In most of the cases that do NOT involve a diagnosis of “Shaken Baby Syndrome” by a pediatric Child Abuse Specialist, parents end up losing their children to CPS due to charges of “medical neglect.”
But disagreeing with a doctor or seeking a second opinion is not a criminal offense, and in cases like this one in Arizona, parents are not even arrested or charged with a crime.
But they end up losing their children to the system anyway, causing great emotional trauma that can affect the lives of the children forever.
One potential solution to slow down the rate at which children are removed from their families, against their will and against the will of their parents, is to stop including medical professionals as “mandatory reporters.”
A physician’s responsibility should end with giving the parent advice. If the parent chooses not to follow the doctor’s advice, the parent should be liable should anything seriously happen to their child, not the medical professional. If the medical professional feels there is imminent danger to the child’s life, then it should be at their discretion to report the parents to CPS.
And in these situations, parents should be able to communicate their perspective on the health of their own children prior to their removal. Police are still able to do “welfare checks” to determine if the child is in danger of death, by simply asking the parents to bring their child to the door, without violating their rights by unlawful entry into the home and basically medically kidnapping the children.
This would take away the “fear” factor that medical professionals may have for their careers, should they be held liable for not reporting any and every situation where a parent chooses not to follow their advice simply because of “mandatory reporting” laws.
The nature of our Constitutional rights here in the United States is that everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and due process of the law, under the guidelines of the Constitution, protects citizens from the over-reach of government intrusion.
However, with current mandatory reporter laws, a parent can lose immediate custody of their child based simply on an anonymous call, or an angry doctor who didn’t like the fact that the parents went elsewhere for medical care.
This results in medical tyranny, and is not the hallmark of a free society where civil rights are supposedly protected.