Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Parents and the State

Timothy Sandefur (Freespace) has it almost right:
[T]he danger of allowing the state to control such decisions [whether a child must have a blood test] is far greater than the threat here [to public health].... Give the state the power to take children away from parents for the children's own good, and you have opened a door to the persecution of religious minorities....
Not to mention the denial of the right of parents to educate their children in private schools or at home, as the parents see fit.

But...I wonder if Sandefur means that the state should never have the power to take children from their parents, for the good of the children. Never? Not even in the case of children who are abused persistently?

It's true that, in such cases, intervention by other parties (e.g., friends, family, church) would be preferable to intervention by the state, given the state's power (and demonstrated ability) to act peremptorily and capriciously. But, given the dearth of private intervenors (because the state has so deeply sundered the social fabric), we are forced to rely on the state as the intervenor of last resort.