Before we slide down a slippery slope, let’s look at a couple of cases. Here’s one:
That piece [in the journal Pediatrics] discussed a 440-pound 16-year-old girl who developed breathing problems from excess weight and nearly died at a University of Wisconsin hospital. Doctors discussed whether to report her family for neglect. But they didn’t need to, because her medical crisis “was a wake-up call” for her family, and the girl ended up losing about 100 pounds, said co-author Dr. Norman Fost, a medical ethicist at the university’s Madison campus.
Another case involved a mother who lost custody of her 555 lb. 14-year-old son, a boy who’s now living with his aunt and has lost 200 lbs.
Both of those examples are conspicuously absent from ED’s and Balko’s articles. I assume that’s because it’s easier for Balko to call it “self-evidently horrifying” than it is to look at the evidence, and it’s easier for ED to go down a long “what if” chain that ends up with non-vaccinated kids being taken away from parents. Apparently, the real-world evidence of parents feeding their kids to death doesn’t take place in a frictionless, two-dimensional plane that is infinite in all directions, so it must be ignored.
Speaking of the real world, taking away children is well-nigh impossible unless the kid has been beaten hard enough to break bones, fucked by a close family member, unfed or otherwise seriously abused. I have a number of good friends and family members who are healthcare workers, and they’ll all tell you that there are cases that keep them up nights where a child is clearly being neglected but no state intervention is possible. Part of the reason is that it takes all kinds of money to run a good child welfare and foster care system, so the current system is overloaded and only able to deal with the worst possible cases. So, no, your roly-poly or non-vaccinated kid will, as a practical matter, never be taken away from you.
But even if the child welfare system were better-financed and empowered to take away some obese kids, do these smart and thoughtful libertarians really think that it’s state overreach to allow some state intervention for 440-555 lb children? If so, we need more argument than Balko’s self-evidence and ED’s slippery slope.