THE MORAL IMPERATIVE TO RESTORE AND ADVANCE PARENTAL RIGHTS

Statement of the Healthcare Civil Rights Task Force

Parents have always been responsible for raising, caring for, and loving their children. The duty of parents is to act in the best interests of their children, who have been entrusted to them by God.  The family is foundational to the good of society.  The family is the vehicle for God’s love to spread into the world, and is the primary instrument in raising virtuous, responsible children. The model family is the Holy Family: Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.  They exhibited the virtues we so desperately need today, especially humility, patience, kindness, diligence, prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance, faith, hope, and love—love being the foremost of all virtues.   In accordance with human nature, who loves a child more than the child’s parents and who, therefore, has a greater interest in safeguarding their child’s health and wellbeing than a child’s parents?

The primacy of the family is reflected in the very structure of children’s rights.  The international standard for protecting a child’s rights is acting in the best interests of the child.[1]  It is presumed that parents act in the best interests of their children. Parents serve as their children’s voices, since parents are responsible for their children and are the ones who naturally love and care for their children, absent a clear and compelling showing of abuse.[2]   

The consequences of denying parental rights in healthcare can be catastrophic. Parents are deprived of the natural right and responsibility to protect their children’s lives.  Children can be taken off life-sustaining medical care by hospital ethics committees and/or court orders against the wishes of parents.[3]  This is a grave injustice to children and their parents.   

Given grave violations of parental rights in healthcare, we hereby resolve that: 

  • Patients should control their own healthcare.  Since children are unable to make their own decisions, parents are presumed and best positioned to represent the best interests of their children. 
  • No institutions or persons should subvert parental rights by giving children medication or treatment absent parental consent, outside of an imminent, life-threatening emergency in which consent to treatment is presumed. 
  • No institutions or persons should subvert parental rights by withholding medication or treatment from children absent parental consent. 
  • The love and support of parents is a vital bulwark for the health and safety of children and the common good of society. 

Signed by the Members of the Health Care Civil Rights Task Force:

Joseph Meaney Ph.D., National Catholic Bioethics Center
Alexandra Snyder, Life Legal Defense Foundation
Julie Grimstad, Healthcare Advocacy and Leadership Organization
Bobby Schindler, Terri Schiavo Life and Hope Network
Michael Vacca, Esq., Christ Medicus Foundation
Father James Bromwich
Deb O’Hara-Rusckowski, RN, MBA, MTS


[1] Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 3(1), OHCHR | Convention on the Rights of the Child.

[2] Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 5, OHCHR | Convention on the Rights of the Child.

[3] Bobby Reyes’ Passing Fails to Respect Human & Civil Rights of Patients (christmedicus.org); see also The Titus Cromer Case: A Moral Obligation to Protect Human & Civil Rights (christmedicus.org).

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