Being a parent runs you through a hundred emotions every day. So does not being a parent. But you have the added pleasure of worrying for someone who has almost no ability to think safely for themselves. They are walking disaster zones for years.
What really pisses me off is other parents who are unable to separate fact from feeling. Well, overwhelming scientific consensus from a fear of their own ignorance. Anti-vaccine (anti-vaxxers, as they’re often referred to) are high on this list for me.
It may come as little surprise that my wife and I follow the best available evidence when it comes to our children’s health. Both my children are vaccinated against everything they should be, for their respective ages. But not all parents are born equal. Some chose the path less walked. Some find reason to mistrust science, scientist, doctors, the government or whoever they’ve decided to mistrust, for whatever reason or reasons. They justify their mistrust with “evidence” and anecdote, often disproven, often wrong. They don’t just do this at their own risk, but at the risk of their children and mine.
I read this piece on the BBC website with some interest, “High Court orders two sisters must receive MMR vaccine”
It’s a sad case of two parents, now divorced, unable to reach a decision as to the welfare of their children. While this isn’t the first time the courts in the UK have ruled on such cases, they still remain rare enough to be newsworthy.
Facebook groups like the Vaccination Information Network (VINE) have reported this as a travesty. Of children being forced to do something they don’t want to do. That in someway their liberties are being infringed upon. But that’s not really what’s going on here. What is going on is two parents disagree over some aspect of their children’s care and have been unable to reach an amicable solution. Just for arguments sake, let’s make it about eating fruit.
The mother thinks that fruit is bad for you. That it contains dangerous ingredients. Eating fruit will cause untold damage to her children. The children agree with their mother. The father believes the opposite. He believes that eating fruit is good for your long term health and isn’t to be feared.
The court has to decide of the best available evidence. Well, the best available evidence is that fruit is good for you. That as part of a healthy lifestyle you should eat fruit. But just to make sure that all arguments are given an equal hearing, the court hears from the children. The children share similar, unscientific, non evidenced based views as their mother. The court rules that the children should eat fruit and find the children don’t posses the ability to make this decision for themselves.
Sounds a bit ridiculous when you make it fruit, but vaccines are about as safe.
Here’s the thing. They’re children. The court has to rule based on this. The mother is an adult and receives the freedom of choice, however stupid, that she wants for herself. The children were given even opportunity by the court to offer reasonable objections to being vaccinated. They weren’t able to. They could only offer the typical anti-vax nonsense that their mother has probably fed them. As a child, claiming that the ingredients in the MMR vaccine aren’t all included on the labelling and that the vaccines are dangerous based on dishonest research, forces the court to believe that the children are unable to make an informed decision. That they are unable to evaluate the evidence available.
This was a family court, not an emancipation of minors hearing! Hearing from the children has confused people that this is any more than a parental decision that a court has had to rule on because they couldn’t reach their own decision. In this case, they are the children and the parents are the parents.
For me, it’s as ridiculous as the courts having to rule on eating fruit. The science, frankly, is done. There is no controversy, just sadly misinformed people. Yes, children have adverse reactions to vaccines but some people have allergic reactions to fruit.
Of course the example breaks down a bit when you consider the benefits of vaccines to the wider community, like heard immunity, but ho-hum.