Rarely a day goes by that some politician or some activist judge somewhere doesn’t jump on a soapbox and lecture America’s parents about “the proper way” to raise their children.
As a parent myself, I find it especially galling when somebody like Bill Clinton, for example, tries to “offer” me “sage advice” on parental responsibility. Politicians and judges have neither a right nor a duty telling Americans how to raise their own kids. If bad parents break the law and abuse or neglect children, local jurisdictions usually handle these cases best but even at that, these cases are rare because in this country, most parents are responsible, loving and well adjusted.
I also find it incredibly hypocritical for judges and politicians to demand I be “more responsible” for the actions of my kids, then forbid me to discipline them in a way I find appropriate. I find it judiciously unacceptable for government to fund hotline numbers and encourage my kids to anonymously report my actions without even giving me a chance to defend those actions taken under the auspices of parental rights.
The fact is politicians and judges try to interfere in parental rights more and more every year. Each attempt seems more hypocritical than the last, and each new infringement on the rights of parents further impairs their ability to be “responsible.”
As an example, consider the recent decision by a Florida judge to block a state law requiring doctors to give parents 48 hours notice before performing an abortion on their teenage daughters. I use a state case to illustrate what I’m talking about because the judge in question supposedly used a Supreme Court decision (Roe v. Wade) and federal laws to make his ruling.
On the one hand the government, through a variety of laws and federal agencies, requires parents to make sure their kids attend school, avoid “hate speech,” respect curfews, and obey ordinances.
But on the other hand, government – by judicial fiat – is saying, “Wait a minute – you don’t have any right to know when a sensitive medical procedure is going to be performed on your child – even if that procedure is one you disagree with.” The hypocrisy deepens when you also consider that hospitals, doctors, nurses and paramedical personnel cannot legally treat children for other illnesses and injuries without parental consent, unless it is a dire emergency.
An elective abortion is no dire emergency. But it is certainly a health care issue and as such it should require the same notification. It is a surgical procedure that carries inherent risks and that makes it a decision traditionally left to parents, not confused, frightened teenaged girls. Besides, since abortion clinics don’t even have to conform to the same federal and state safety regulations as hospitals and other medical clinics, that is all the more reason why parents should be involved.
What is even more compelling, though, is the Supreme Court precedent regarding the Florida judge’s ruling concerning the “right” of teenagers to have their privacy respected when making the choice to have an abortion.
In Schloendorff v. Society of the N.Y. Hospital, 211 N.Y. 125, 129 (1914), Justice Cardozo wrote for the majority: “Every human being of adult years and sound mind has a right to determine what shall be done with his own body.” This decision, in the interests of privacy and individuality, made it illegal for a surgeon to operate on an individual without their permission.
You’ll notice that Justice Cardozo did not extend that “right” to children – teenagers, for instance, who want to have an abortion but who do have the legal standing to make other decisions about their health care independent of their parents. The High Court has never granted such inherent “equal rights” for children to make important medical and surgical decisions. Those choices have always been left to adults – hence, parents. The “right” cited by the Florida court has therefore been created out of thin air.
Since the 1914 Supreme Court ruling is unchallenged and final, the Florida judge had no standing to rule that a teenager’s permission to have an abortion is equal to that of an adult parent. That is especially true when these same courts support the laws forbidding minor children from making complex medical decisions in any other case involving any other treatment or procedure.
But federal and state judges, as well as lawmakers, routinely make these kinds of hypocritical mistakes. They also forbid minors from buying and smoking cigarettes, buying and drinking alcohol, from marrying and from working in certain environments. They won’t let kids pray in school, handle firearms, dress in a certain manner, or make certain statements – ostensibly because they are medical and/or safety risks.
And yet, they’ll provide our kids with condoms, let them have sex and then get abortions – all without allowing parents to be involved in such decisions.
As lawmakers and “concerned” judicial activists painstakingly wonder why we have incidents like Woodstock ’99, they should be questioning their own motives and asking what they are doing themselves to contribute to such behavior. Clearly the signals they are sending our kids via hypocritical laws and court rulings are confusing at best and culturally damaging at worst.
Enough, already. To meddling politicians and activist judges I say, “My kids are none of your business. I will decide how to raise them. Butt out.”