Vin Suprynowicz

The Libertarian

Vin Suprynowicz

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In Washington state, doctors and hospitals officials admitted 9-month-old Riley Rogers was in no imminent danger of death.

But Riley was born with poorly functioning kidneys, and doctors believe he will probably need a kidney transplant later in life. His doctor, Nicole Becker, wanted to perform surgery right away, implanting equipment that would make it easier to connect the tot to a dialysis machine at a later date.

Now an ominous character enters our tale. Tina Carlsen was a woman who knew what the doctors had in mind for Baby Riley, and she did not approve. She wanted to know why the surgery and the dialysis couldn’t wait till they were really needed. In the meantime, she proposed that alternative, less invasive, natural treatments be tried.

Dr. Becker knew a dangerous wacko when she met one. Three times, Dr. Becker warned state Child Protective Services that this Carlsen woman was likely to try something.

And sure enough, on June 22, Dr. Becker’s worst fears came true. Tina Carlsen snuck into the hospital, grabbed the little boy, hid him inside a diaper bag, and took him away with her.

Authorities issued an Amber Alert and spent two days searching for the pair. They were finally found, about 50 miles south of Seattle. Riley Rogers had his surgery last week, just as the doctors wanted, and was expected to leave the hospital last Friday with his father, Todd Rogers. The Carlsen woman has been charged with second-degree domestic-violence kidnapping.

A happy ending for all ... or was it?

You see, Tina Carlsen is little Riley Rogers’ ... mother. And his father, Todd, agrees with the mom about the alternative treatments. Both parents want to give them a try. “Any mother would respond the way Tina did,” to seeing her child seized and held by state medical authorities against her will, to being deprived of the right to explore alternative treatments, Todd Rogers said last week.

Technically, Washington state law says judges can overrule a parent’s wishes in such cases only if the child’s life is in imminent danger, which little Riley’s was not.

Nancy Sutton, interim administrator for the state Department of Social and Health Services, isn’t concerned about such niceties. Her agency’s mandate is clear, she says: to protect children.

The problem is, medical science is not always right. Many invasive treatments once recommended by “professional consensus” are now discredited or considered appropriate far less often, and for examples we don’t have to go all the way back to his physicians bleeding George Washington to death to “remove his evil humours” in hopes of curing a sore throat, nor to the era when a common treatment for aberrant behavior was the frontal lobotomy.

Just do a little reading on the radical medical interventions which “well-meaning” doctors have proposed to treat stuttering, over the years. Women still alive today were told it was best to give birth while doped up in “twilight sleep” -- leading some to conclude “best” meant “most convenient for the practitioner.” Ditto widespread use -- far above the norm in other industrialized countries -- of induced labor, caesarean section, and episiotomies.

Medical orthodoxy tells us vaccines and dental fillings containing toxic mercury are fully effective, never cause disease, and do no harm. They’re wrong on all counts. Meantime, thanks to reputable and open-minded practitioners like Dr. Andrew Weil, many herbal and nutritional regimens once dismissed as “old wives’ tales” are finally getting a fresh look.

Will all prove effective? Probably not (though Dr. Weil laughs about American “researchers” who have taken Asian mushrooms that are reputed to help build RESISTANCE to cancers through years of dietary consumption, dropped a fragment of the fungus in question onto a dish of cancer cells, and declared, “Nope, that didn’t kill ’em.”) But the point is that the very same authority figures who urge parents to “get involved” in their children’s health care and education grow outraged when these “mere commoners” do some research and reading, and end up turning around and actually questioning THEM.

Freedom and liberty mean nothing if they only mean we’re free to comply with what government experts believe is best for us. Intervention should be a last resort, only where an abusive or neglectful parent actually endangers a child’s life. Even then, placement with other family members is far preferable.

But the arrogant bureaucratic model that instructs us children are wards and property of the state, whose experts always “know what’s best” -- that these little charges are on loan to their biological parents only so long as those parents are on their best behavior, that in fact parents may be coerced to obey under threat that their own children can be removed any time their accidental caretakers fail to bow down to the current medical or behavioral or disciplinary orthodoxy -- is insidious and evil, and has no place in a free land.

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