Alfie Evans Death Sparks Debate Over Parental Rights

Alfie Evans, the 23-month-old boy diagnosed with a rare degenerative brain condition that left him in a "semi-vegetative state," has died.  Doctors in Britain decided against further treatment despite his parents' wishes.   Pope Francis had intervened and the Vatican hospital had offered to treat him at no further court.  A British court refused to allow Alfie to leave the country.

During the battle for Alfie's life, conservatives pointed to the case as a warning against establishing government-run health care.

But this weekend, I think the conversation has taken an interesting turn:  toward our understanding of rights.

Note this interesting line in the article that I've linked above:

Under British law, courts are asked to intervene when parents and doctors disagree on the treatment of a child. In such cases, the rights of the child take primacy over the parents' right to decide what's best for their offspring.

Note that the "rights of the child" is another way of saying that the government will tell parents what will happen to their offspring.

That led libertarian writer Megan McArdle to tweet an alternate view:

In re Alfie Evans: we do not give parents the right to decide for their children because they always make the correct choice. We give them that right because they care more about the child's welfare than the experts do.

An argument over rights ensued.  But I thought the best answer was provided by Ed Whelan, President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center:

But I would say that we don’t *give* parents the right. We *recognize* that they have it, as a right that inheres in parenthood (subject to forfeiture in cases in which they abuse the right).

THAT got me thinking:  how many people today believe that government grants rights instead of understanding that government simply recognizing rights already granted to us by God.

If more people understood the "recognizing" principle, imagine how THAT would impact so many debates.

For example -  the gun control debate.

If government recognizes I have a right-to-bear arms and it is ONLY subject to forfeiture in cases in which I abuse the right -  that mean law-abiding gun owners don't need to worry about restrictions, correct?

Let's talk more on the radio about this.

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