As a new mother who is eight months pregnant, I find the words of Ian Kennedy in an op-ed for The Guardian absolutely terrifying. Discussing the tragic story of Charlie Gard, he writes:
“The first [step] is to recognise that children do not belong to their parents… It is, of course, children who have rights; any rights that parents have exist only to protect their children’s rights.”
Children don’t belong to their parents?! Not only is this statement ludicrous, but it is antithetical to the history of Western civilization.
For example, in his Second Treatise of Civil Government, English philosopher John Locke wrote, “Adam and Eve, and after them all parents were obliged by the law of nature to preserve, nourish, and educate the children they had begotten…This is that which puts the authority into the parents’ hands to govern the minority of their children.”
The U.S. Supreme Court echoed these sentiments as recently as 2000, when in the case of Troxel v. Granville, it declared that, “the liberty interest…of parents in the care, custody, and control of their children—is perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized by [the] Court.”
But unfortunately, that hasn’t stopped the alarming trend we are seeing in Western countries to try to downplay the role of mothers and fathers in their children’s lives.
We see it in countries like Sweden where authorities have taken children away from their parents because the parents chose to homeschool. In the government’s view, parents who want to instruct their own youngsters, versus putting them in a state-run school, clearly don't understand what's best for their child—so the state has to step in and take over.
We see it in the explosion of the fertility industry worldwide where egg, sperm, and even embryo donation are used with little thought to the harmful effects of intentionally creating children who will be untethered to one or both of their biological parents. The tendency to ignore the fact that human beings have an innate desire to know where they come from—and to be known, loved, and raised by our biological parents whenever possible—is detrimental to these children’s well-being.
We also see this trend in Canada, where Bill 89 was recently passed that, among other things, promotes parental (biological, adoptive, foster) acceptance of LGBT ideology as being in a child’s best interests. In other words, those who do not adhere to the idea that children are born male or female, or are unwilling to encourage a child’s misperception of his or her sex, are considered unfit to parent.
And now we see it in the case of little Charlie Gard.
By now, I’m sure you’ve read something about the young boy with the rare disease whose parents were prevented by a court from pursuing further treatment. In the time that was spent arguing over what was best for Charlie in court, his time effectively ran out. And now the parents are left to wonder what might’ve been if they had been free to make decisions about their child’s welfare and care, without interference from the state.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of instances where government intervention for children is sorely needed. Abuse, neglect, and exploitation are horrific wrongs that no child should have to endure.
But government intervention based on ideology is a whole different ballgame. And Kennedy’s rationale for arguing against parental rights doesn’t do enough to differentiate between the two.
When such concerns arise, there has to be a mechanism to decide the circumstances in which parents’ views should not prevail. That mechanism has to be a trustworthy and independent source of authority, sometimes a local authority, but ultimately, as ever in a civic society, a court… But, ultimately, we are not in the realm of there being a right answer. We are in the realm of judgment, reasoned judgment, and we look to the courts to provide this.
In our increasingly ideologically polarized society, where does one’s “concerns” begin and parental rights end? Who determines the line? Who gets to judge if educating a child at home or teaching a child the truth about biological sex is harmful or helpful? The government? Judges? Heavily funded activists?
The fact of the matter is that the family is the building block of society—not the government. The government exists to serve the family, not to dictate which parents’ views are acceptable to the prevailing ideology, and therefore permitted, and which are not.
When we violate parental rights, human reproduction itself is immersed into the bloated, authoritarian government. Is that a world you want to live in? Is that a reality you want to face here in America?
After all, if children don’t belong to their parents, who do they belong to?
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