Recently sextuplets were born to a family in Vancouver. Little is known about the family other than that they are devout Jehovah’s Witnesses. Last week the state seized three of the four surviving infants to give them transfusions because it is against the tenets of the JWs and the parents had refused. The parents and their doctors were pursuing alternative methods of treatment. The responses in the editorial pages have been vile.

“Perpetuating the myths”

Michael Rai-Lewis (Imposing Religion — Feb 2) writes that parents should not be allowed to impose their religion on infants, who are not capable of choosing anything. When carried to its logical conclusion this is an idea that no religion could ever permit.

Imagine if parents were prevented from imposing religion on their children until they could make an informed choice for themselves — say, at 14 or 16 years old. The children would reject such ludicrous fairytales, the same way children outgrow Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

No, we won’t be seeing this any time soon. The mythmakers simply could not allow it. The duty of parents to brainwash their children is sacrosant in every religion for a very good reason.

My response, which I hope the paper will print:

If choice is what bothers Michael Rai-Lewis (Feb 2) and Christpoher Price (Feb 3), then I wonder how they can condone the state forcing transfusions on those infants. They could not make an informed decision; how does the state have more right than their parents to make decisions for them? These are not parents who have neglected or abused their children in any way; these are parents who have fought every step of the way for these children’s lives. “Selected terminations” and DNRs were recommended by doctors; if not for these parent’s choices, those children’s fates would not even be up for debate. What about those choices? Should the state, which forced a decision on those children in order to save their lives, have forced a decision on them to end their lives?

In the end, it is the parent’s job, even duty, to make decisions for and on behalf of their children. Mr. Price appears to advocate not teaching our children anything until they can understand and make the decisions for themselves. When taken to its logical conclusion, this is an idea that no parent and no society period can permit. Don’t teach your children how to eat healthfully? What three-year old would choose whole grains and vegetables over a cupcake and chips? This is a choice a parent must make. For that matter, what about global warming? If we were to wait to act upon it until everyone completely understood it and was able to make what those who advocate such a choice feel would be “quality” decisions, then we would be waiting a long time indeed. Say, for everyone on the planet to get a Ph.D in environmental studies.

So what Mr. Price’s comment comes down to is “don’t allow parents to teach their children anything I disagree with.” Should I then advocate that people like him should not be allowed to teach their children their brand of athiesm? Afterall, I disagree with it. And if my children are too young to be taught my values and the basis upon which I make them, then so are his.

I am disappointed with the Globe and Mail for printing the nastiness and ignorance I have seen these last few days. Canada prides itself on its openeness and tolerance but apparently that doesn’t extend very far.