Sunday, June 28, 2009

Parental Decisions - Good or Bad?

Admittedly, I am a big fan of TV courtroom dramas. I used to love The Practice, LA Law and Raising the Bar is one of my current favorite shows - you get it. One of the reasons why I think I enjoy these types of shows is because they seem real. So many of these cases could happen in real life, making the shows feel not as contrived as other shows on TV. I recently watched an episode of Law & Order: SVU and right now, I'm not sure how I feel about what I saw.

As the episode started out, all signs were pointing to the SVU team being faced with a case that mimicked the Casey Anthony case currently going on down in Florida, where a young mother is accused of murdering her toddler daughter. The rest of the eipsode is outlined by the following bullet points, to avoid confusion.

  • A young mother saw a rash on her infant daughter, who was cranky and irritable. The mother then put the baby to sleep for the night.
  • In the morning, the mother found the baby dead.
  • The mother was accused of killing the baby until the autopsy results showed that the baby died of encephalitis (swelling of the brain) caused by a case of the measels.
  • The detectives went to work to track down the person who passed on the measels to the baby girl, and found that it was a young boy who had come into contact with the baby at a local park.
  • In speaking to the mother of the young boy, the detectives found that the young boy had the measels and got well.
  • They also found that the young boy was not vaccinated against the measels, or anything, because his mother feared the long-term effects that vaccinations could cause her son. She felt that it was healthier for her son to grow up without receiving any vaccines. The little girl who died was not vaccinated because she was not old enough to have received the vaccine to fight the measels.
  • The police then decided to arrest the mother of the little boy for negligent homicde, stating that her holding vaccines back from her son caused the death of this little girl and that she should be held responsible.
However, I also know people who choose not to vaccinate their children. I have friends who choose not to vaccinate their children. I have friends who choose not to be open about the fact that they do not vaccinate their children for fear that their family will be ostracized within our community. I have friends who do vaccinate all of their children and have friends who have vaccinated their first child and not their second.

Both of my children are vaccinated. For me, vaccinating my first child was not a conscious decision that I made, because no one ever took the time to educate me that I was entitled to make this choice. As a first time mom, my doctor told me it was time for x and y vaccination and my son got them and that was it. To be honest, I am not sure that I would have chosen any differently had I known. With my daughter, I was a little bit more educated and knew that it was my choice and I did choose to vaccinate her as well.

The media is in a frenzy about vaccinating children, discussing time and time again how vaccinations are the cause of other health issues, a major one being varying degrees of autism. Although the drug industry, doctors and many others refute this claim, many others stand by their opinions.

All of these thoughts bring me back to the show I watched the other night and have me pondering the answers to some pretty important questions for and against each side. Isn't it a basic right that government should not exercise their will over out own bodies? And don't parents have a right to do what they feel is best for their own children, to extend their beliefs to their children? This includes making the decision to have your child vaccinated or not. But on the other side, aren't parents who choose to vaccinate their children entitled to know that their children are safe from these diseases?

This post is so open ended with no real conclusion. The episode did bother me, more because the mother of the little boy was arrested for making, what she felt, the right decision for her family. Anyone care to weigh in on this?

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