Whose Baby Is It Anyway? The Ethics Of Child Upliftment

by Vince McLeod


The case of Baby Will has received international attention in recent weeks. Will needed heart surgery, and his parents, quite reasonably, requested that the surgeons use blood that did not contain a Covid vaccine. The logic of Will’s parents was that the Covid vaccines have not been adequately tested and therefore are not safe to put into an infant. The Government disagreed.

The Government’s position, as it always is, is that the Government decides what you’re allowed to do and what you’re not allowed to do. It doesn’t matter if you’re the one that ends up suffering from getting it wrong. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a postgraduate degree in the topic under discussion. Might makes right, and the Government has the might, therefore the Government is right.

The Government didn’t want Baby Will to be given unvaccinated blood. No official reason was given, but from unofficial statements it appears that their chief concern was the logistical expense and hassle of needing to give unvaccinated blood to everyone who wanted it. As is often the case, the Government was reluctant to treat people humanely in case it set a precedent that they would be expected to live up to.

However, there was an impasse. Will’s heart surgery was urgent. Any delay waiting for official permission to use unvaccinated blood, risked his death.

Rather than accede to the parents’ request, the Government uplifted Baby Will, sending police officers in to rip him out of his mother’s arms. The surgery was performed with vaccinated blood, and Will was returned to his parents. As far as the Government is concerned, the story ends there. But questions remain.

If Baby Will had been given vaccinated blood, and if this blood turned out to have been harmful on account of the vaccine not having been properly tested, there may have been unexpected side-effects. In this case, the Government would have taken no responsibility for any of it, but Will’s parents – and Will – would be the ones who had to wear the consequences.

All the hypotheticals reduce to one question: whose baby is it anyway?

In the ancient Roman pater familias system, the fathers of the family exercised absolute control over the individual members. Not only did those fathers have the legal right to kill members of their own family, they were even obliged to in some cases, such as obvious deformities. Life was cheap in the ancient world.

Today we don’t have the same resource scarcity that Ancient Rome did. There is no longer a fear that feeding deformed children will lead to famine. So now we have a compromise position. The popular opinion today is that parents may exercise authority over their children, subject to certain exclusions that are widely agreed to cause harm.

Difficulty arises when it comes to areas where the existence of harm is not widely agreed upon. The real question is who gets to decide, in these edge cases, what constitutes harm. Like so many social issues, this question tends to break down into two sides: one authoritarian and the other libertarian.

The authoritarian position is that the Government should get to decide. In the case of Will, that means that the Government decides whether Covid-vaccinated blood is safe or not.

The libertarian position is, of course, that the parents, having the closest kinship bond with the child, ought to decide. It is the parents who will end up suffering the most if the Covid-vaccinated blood kills the child or not.

Unfortunately, the authoritarian side of social issues is in the ascendancy thanks to various recent outcomes like the cannabis referendum. A narrow majority of us said, yes, the Government can lock us up if we presume to decide for ourselves what goes into our bodies. Because of outcomes like this, and others, the authoritarians within the Government have become emboldened.

As a result of the weak pro-freedom sentiments among Kiwis, the Government has seen fit to override the wishes of Will’s parents, reasoning that the New Zealand population will accept such authoritarianism. And we mostly have. The authoritarians in the New Zealand public howled for Will to be taken away and his parents prosecuted. So far, there have been no prosecutions, but a precedent has been set.

A predictable risk for the New Zealand people is that the same logic is next used for gender reassignment surgery. Globohomo likes to make the argument that denying gender reassignment surgery is risking that the trans person commits suicide. So in the eyes of the Government, denying gender reassignment surgery can carry a similar degree of risk to delaying Will’s surgery. And they were willing to uplift a baby over that.

Being torn away from one’s parents is one of the most traumatic experiences a child can go through. In order to justify it, the Government has to have excellent reasons to believe that they’re preventing significant harm. In the case of Baby Will, the only potential for harm came from the Government itself. As such, they are very much the bad guys in this story.


If you enjoyed reading this essay/article, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles from 2021 from Amazon as a Kindle ebook or paperback.

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