KNOXVILLE, TN (Catholic Online) - We are witnessing more instances where an out of control civil government is interfering with our families. Now, the American Medical Association has published an article in its prestigious journal (JAMA) which advocates that some parents should lose custody of their obese children. The authors of the article are Dr. David Ludwig, an obesity expert at Children's Hospital in Boston and an associate professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, and Lindsey Murtagh, a lawyer and researcher.
According to ABC News, Ludwig and Murtagh say, "In severe instances of childhood obesity, removal from the home may be justifiable, from a legal standpoint, because of imminent health risks and the parents' chronic failure to address medical problems." They are also quoted in the online edition of Time as saying, "State intervention may serve the best interests of many children with life-threatening obesity, comprising the only realistic way to control harmful behaviors."
There are many problems with Ludwig and Murtagh's comments. For instance, they say that severely obese children are at "imminent risk." This is an exaggeration. While it is true that obesity constitutes a health risk, no fair minded person would call the risk imminent. They also accuse the parents of obese children of "chronic failure." This is pure speculation. It is obvious that there could be other possible reasons. Furthermore, they say that they want to "control harmful behaviors," which is a red flag.
What we have here is a lot of word games, reckless accusations, and, finally, an admission of truth--that certain "anointed" professionals know what is best for others and that by virtue of their expertise they have the right to control others. Many of them certainly know a lot and deserve our respect. They can offer us invaluable help, but they do not have the right to control our behavior, nor are they qualified. We are not guinea pigs subject to experimentation. Besides, such arrogance can cause serious harm.
Time also spoke to Vivek Sankaran, a law professor at the University of Michigan who directs the Detroit Center for Family Advocacy. Sankaran said that in Michigan, the advocacy center is trying to get an obese 2-year-old freed from foster care. Sankaran said, "What we've seen in this case is that the actual removal causes irreparable damage to the child - emotional problems, behavioral problems - and it's the type of thing that can't be remedied."
This happened to a family in Albuquerque, NM about 10 years ago. When Anamarie Regino was 3-years-old, government officials took her from her parents and placed her in foster care because she weighed 90 pounds. However, Anamarie didn't improve and was returned to her parents. She was later diagnosed with a genetic predisposition. Adela Martinez, Anamarie's mother, told ABC News, "They say it's for the well-being of the child but it did more damage [than] any money or therapy could ever [ ] do to fix it." She called it "two months of hell." Anamarie, now 14, agreed. She believes Dr. Ludwig is wrong. She said, ". . . to get better you need to be with your family, instead of being surrounded by doctors."
This is one of the more public attempts by healthcare professionals to intrude upon the family. It is it is certainly not the first example of improper intervention. The American Academy of Pediatrics has encouraged its members to ask parents and children intrusive questions under the rubric of "well-child visits." For instance, they might ask if children wear helmets when they are riding bicycles or if they wear seat belts in the car. They may inquire if there is a pool or guns where they live. If there are guns at the house, doctors are encouraged to talk about how the guns and ammunition are stored.
Although such questioning goes beyond the purview of a doctor's expertise, some states may require that doctors obtain this information. In some states, doctors may even be required to speak with children in private without their parents. Information from the California Family Health Council says that when children reach 12 years old it is a normal policy at some clinics for doctors to ask parents to step out of the room so the doctor can talk with the child in private. The council says that "All young people have the right to get some services confidentially." And they tell parents that this helps keep their child "safe and healthy." What nonsense!
These intrusions into our families are not merely meddlesome; in many instances they are supported by government at some level. As such, ...