Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

A Mother's Denial, a Daughter's Death (Maggiore)

In a discussion of the Maggiore case, Monica Pignotti replied to the following comment:

> Wouldn't part of "freedom of religion" imply parent's right to bring
> their children up under their own system of beliefs? Why does
> society have a right to interfere with that?
> That is where Darwin comes in.
> A**** Q******

Monica's insightful reply:

I'm all in favor of freedom of choice for mentally competent adults. My political views lean heavily against state intervention in the matter of people having the right to make choices, even irrational ones, for themselves. However, the issue we are discussing here is not about choice, it is about human rights for children. Children are not property of their parents. They have rights and those rights include proper care and being free from harm. For this reason, adults are not allowed to murder, harm their children or deprive them of proper care. Depriving a child of life-saving medical care is a clear-cut case of neglect. Adults do have the freedom and the right to choose treatments they receive; they do not, however, have the "right" to make clearly harmful choices for their children because children are not property. They are human beings who have rights. For those who do believe that adults should be "free" to choose whatever they want to for their children, I wonder how far you would want to go with this. Did Candace Newmaker's adoptive mother have the "right" to choose to put her into the highly abusive treatment she suffered from that resulted in her death? Clearly, there are cases where the government needs to intervene on behalf of children and their human rights. In this case, the mother deprived her child of tests and treatments that, in the opinion of medical experts, almost surely would have saved her life.

This is not a religious matter. People do have the right to freedom of religion and to raise their children in the religion of their choice, or to no religion. They do not, however, have the right to act on those "religious" beliefs if they constitute harm to the child. For example, of a religion believes that the oldest child should be murdered, they do not have the right to do that. There is a difference between beliefs and action.

Furthermore, in the case of Ms. Maggiore, from her own statements, she clearly considers this to be an issue of science and considers her belief that HIV does not cause AIDS to be a scientific one.

Regarding Darwin and genetics, as humorous as the Darwin Awards are, there is no evidence that gullibility is genetic. Just look at all the skeptics that came from homes with parents who held highly irrational belief systems. Gullibility is part of the human condition. Some people are more gullible than others, but there is no reason to assume that this is genetic. We would do better to concentrate on teaching people critical thinking skills.

Monica Pignotti


She has also written about this matter on her own blog.

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