The Charlie Gard case in Great Britain is stirring fierce debate over whether parents ought to have the final decision for their children or whether the government or children themselves ought to have that power.
But this debate goes much further than the U.K. or whether the parents of an 11-month-old boy ought to be able to seek additional treatment for their son.
In fact, one of the experts weighing in on behalf of the hospital in the Gard case says the American notion of parental rights is now more the exception than the norm thanks to action at the United Nations.
“Unlike the USA, English law is focused on the protection of children’s rights,” said Jonathan Montgomery, professor of Health Care Law at University College London told the Associated Press. “The USA is the only country in the world that is not party to the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child; it does not recognize that children have rights independent of their parents.”
For family advocates in the U.S., that statement is troubling both in terms of its low regard for parents but also because it’s not at all true.
“If he asserts that children have absolutely no rights separate from their parents in the United States, he ought to lose his tenure,” said Center for Family and Human Rights President Austin Ruse, who is also the author of “Littlest Suffering Souls: Children Whose Short Lives Point Us to Christ.”
“Children do have some rights separate from their parents. They have rights in criminal law. They have rights in inheriting money. Even an unborn child has rights sometimes separate from his or her mother,” said Ruse.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child took effect in 1990. The U.S. never signed on but most nations have.
“The Convention on the Rights of the Child is one of these crazy U.N. documents that most of the world has signed and ratified and most of the world ignores it,” said Ruse.
However, its tenets concern Ruse greatly.
“The Convention on the Rights of the Child does separate the child from his or her parents in terms of all rights, which is one of the reasons the United States has never ratified it,” said Ruse.
“It also gives the child complete access to any form of information from any source. It’s a downright crazy document and it’s a good thing the U.S. has never ratified it,” said Ruse
Why doesn’t the U.S. sign it?
“The main reason the United States has never ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child is the same reason the U.S. has never ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Convention on Persons with Disabilities, so on and so forth, is because they put us before treaty-monitoring bodies,” said Ruse.
Whether it’s asserting the rights of children or the superiority of the collective, progressive activists are outwardly calling for parents to have less influence in the lives of their children. In 2013, then-MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry sparked controversy with an ad for the cable channel that called for Americans to think of children as belonging to all of us instead of their parents.
“We have never invested as much in public education as we should have because we’ve always had kind of a private notion of children. Your kid is yours and totally your responsibility. We haven’t had a very collective notion of these are our children,” said Harris-Perry in the ad.
“So part of it is we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families and recognize that kids belong to whole communities. Once it’s everybody’s responsibility and not just the household’s, then we start making better investments,” concluded Harris-Perry.
Ruse says the end game for these activists is obvious.
“The endgame of the sexual radicals is to destroy the family. There’s no question about that. It is radical individualism run amok. The Convention on the Rights of the Child is simply part of that,” said Ruse.
“The endgame is to supplant the family. It’s to supplant the church. At the French Revolution, the main idea was to overturn the traditional structures that kept people from being free, the family and the church. So this is all of a piece with those musty ideas from the French Revolution,” said Ruse.