No parent should have to bury their child, especially when we have the tools and medicine to fight many of the diseases children may face or contract.
And yet time and again, we hear arguments for natural remedies from parents who distrust science and medicine and prefer to raise their children the way they see fit. Of course, parents have their rights: rights to choose how their kids should be brought up and whether or not they should be subjected to modern medicine and vaccines. But is it a “parental right” to let your child die?
Two parents in Alberta, Canada are now facing jail time for denying their son’s right to live when they ignored his meningitis back in 2012, choosing to treat him with natural home remedies instead. The 18-month-old boy, Ezekiel, died from complications.
The judge called them “willfully blind.”
Meet the Stephan Family
Like any story of a family that makes international headlines, the tale of the Stephans is tragic. It all started in 2012, when their youngest son Ezekiel fell ill a few weeks short of his 19th month.
At first, parents David and Collet thought that he had come down with a cold or flu, so they opted to treat him with garlic, hot peppers, and horseradish. Sadly, his condition did not improve, and despite alleged warnings that he may have meningitis, as well as doctor’s visits with indeterminate test results, Zeke died in March 2012.
Fact and Myth
Thus began a lengthy bout of news coverage and legal problems for the Stephans, who have been painted by the media as a pair of uber-religious, natural remedy healers that knowingly allowed their son to die. And yet this isn’t quite the case.
Medical advancements have immeasurably improved human health and cured various diseases that, even years ago, could have killed us. Still, medicine is not without its critics. A popular movement today exists among people who are anti-vaccine and willingly risk their children’s lives based on misinformed research on the possible side effects of vaccinations.
As the Stephans’ extended family and friends have protested throughout this case, parents have a right to choose what is best for their children, and the government, media, and medical professionals–trusted as they may be–often infringe on those rights of autonomy.
Unfortunately for parents’ rights activists, children have a right, too.