March 28, 2001
When President George W. Bush gets around to appointing federal
judges, the issue of parental rights should be a major criterion. One
model for what this means is contained in the principles recently
outlined by the Wyoming Supreme Court.
In two recent cases, the Wyoming Supreme Court was presented with
the state's demand to dictate medical treatment for children despite
parental objections. The Wyoming Department of Health had insisted
that children receive the controversial hepatitis B vaccine as a
condition of entering public school, even though there is no hepatitis
B problem in the Wyoming schools.
This government busybody approach is chapter and verse from
Hillary Clinton's ideology that the village should raise children,
complete with village-mandated health requirements. Regrettably, many
public-health and public-school personnel have bought into this vision
of government-family relations.
Hepatitis B is a disease transmitted via bodily fluids like AIDS,
such as from promiscuous sex and needle exchanges, and is not
ordinarily contagious in school. Isn't it strange that schools are
trying to force this vaccine, despite its side effects, on children but
not on teachers? Perhaps because parents are not as well organized as
In LePage v. Wyoming, Mrs. LePage asserted a religious objection,
and in Jones v. Wyoming, Mr. and Mrs. Jones asserted a medical
objection, both of which Wyoming law is supposed to permit. However,
the Wyoming health department took the position that it had the power
to scrutinize the validity of the religious and medical objections,
which it did, and then rejected them.
The Wyoming Supreme Court came down on the side of the parents in
both cases. "Any agency decision that falls outside the confines of
the statutory guidelines articulated by the legislature is contrary to
law and cannot stand," the court declared in the LePage case.
The court further held that parents, not government, must retain
authority over medical treatment for their children. "We . . . are
confident in our presumption that parents act in the best interest of
their children's physical, as well as their spiritual, health."
The Wyoming court even issued a warning to the legislature to
avoid infringing on parental rights in the future. "It is the
legislature's responsibility to act within the constraints of the
Wyoming and United States Constitutions."
Parental rights are under attack all over the country from public
health departments and public schools, often for seemingly innocent
purposes. The Nevada legislature is now considering a mandatory
hearing test of all newborns before parents will be permitted to take
their own new baby home from the hospital (AB 250).
Other aspects of this legislation are even more offensive than the
intrusive mandate on 100 percent of babies even though fewer than
one-half of one percent of infants have hearing problems. The
legislation requires hospitals, within 24 hours of each hearing test,
to record the results in a medical file on the patient that will be
forwarded to the state.
It's rather clear that this legislation is simply an excuse for
the state to build a universal medical database that can be used for
other purposes. The Centers for Disease Control is already planning to
merge all state medical databases into one national database, which was
one of the objectives of the discredited Clinton health care plan.
Who will pay for this testing? The Nevada legislation would
require insurance companies to pay the costs, which of course will be
passed on to patients in the form of higher premiums.
Last month in New Jersey, federal Judge Nicholas Politan ruled in
favor of a school district and against parents' objections to a nosy
and highly intrusive questionnaire about the personal beliefs and
activities of students. On the theory that the questionnaire was
"voluntary," the case called C.N. v. Ridgewood Board of Education held
that neither the federal Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment nor
constitutional rights could stop the government intrusion.
It is settled law that minors cannot give consent for anything.
No questionnaire should be called voluntary unless parents are notified
and their consent obtained in advance, but that did not happen.
This case is on appeal and the courts will again be asked, who has
authority over children: their parents or the state? We hope that
President Bush will appoint only judges who reject the village approach
to raising children and will courageously side with parents against the