Fighting for Children’s Lives

Two recent stories in the news offer views on parents’ fights to save the lives of children through medical intervention and technology. One shows the now-hopeless struggle of parents to get their child experimental treatment. The other demonstrates how a mother is providing hope for parents desperately needing care for their newborns.

Most people are familiar with Charlie Gard’s dire situation and his parents’ fight for experimental treatment. Charlie has a rare genetic condition. His parents have fought England’s National Health Service, the British courts, and the European Court of Human Rights to allow them to bring Charlie to America for experimental treatment that offers a sliver of hope. Despite raising over a million pounds to help pay for the treatment in the US, the various courts denied the parents’ bid to bring their child to the US. This healthcare decision strips the rights of an infant’s parents and places such decisions in the hands of hospital administrators and judges. The case offers more questions than answers. What does it portend for parents who want a say in the treatment options for their children? What are the implications for parents’ rights when judges are able to tell doctors to stop treatment even though the parents object and have the money to pay for the treatment they desire? How much worse will such situations be for those who desire treatment but cannot afford it? Take a look at this BBC article and this piece from The Washington Post for more information.

Meanwhile, another story shows a mother’s fight to save the lives of children halfway around the world. Dr. Rebecca Richards-Kortum, a professor in the bioengineering department at Rice University, used the proceeds from a MacArthur genius grant to develop low-cost technology to diagnose cancer quickly and easily in isolated areas of the world. Along with her campus organization, the Rice 360° Institute for Global Health, she is now a semifinalist for a $100 million MacArthur grant to address newborn death rates in sub-Saharan Africa. She and her team have already developed life-saving devices including a machine to improve the airflow into children’s lungs. The respiratory machine sells for a fraction of the price of similar machines in the developed world and has increased the survival rate of babies with respiratory distress. Her work is inspired by a research trip to Malawi where she saw babies in ill-equipped hospitals, “She saw things…from two perspectives: as an engineer and as a mother.” Her perspective as a mother inspires her to work to save other children, and her work gives hope to parents who desperately need better care for their children in the developing world. Check out this profile in The Wall Street Journal to learn more about Dr. Richards-Kortum’s work.

 

The Child Left Behind

http://www.migrationpolicy.org/research/implications-immigration-enforcement-activities-well-being-children-immigrant-families
http://www.migrationpolicy.org/research/implications-immigration-enforcement-activities-well-being-children-immigrant-families

http://www.migrationpolicy.org/research/implications-immigration-enforcement-activities-well-being-children-immigrant-families

Studies conducted by the Migration Policy Institute and the Urban Institute show that deportation of a parent has a dramatic effect on the child, similar to when a child’s parent goes to prison. Washington Times reporter, Lydia DePillis, wrote:

The Obama administration has already expelled about 3.7 million people who were living here illegally between 2009 and 2013. While the pace of deportations has slowed dramatically, with a shift in enforcement towards weeding out those who have actually committed crimes in America, the Migration Policy Institute estimates that several hundred thousand children have either one or no parents in America as a result. And 5.3 million children are still living with unauthorized parents, constantly under threat of losing one or both.

We’re just starting to understand the impact that losing a mother — or, much more often, a father — can have on those kids’ development.

A pair of reports issued Monday paint a broad picture of how kids have been affected by deportations in the past several years. Both were funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and conducted by the Migration Policy Institute and the Urban Institute, with help from research and input from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The first, a survey of smaller-scale studies conducted on unauthorized immigrant families, shows that the effects of losing a parent to deportation are basically the same as what happens when a parent goes to prison: Kids can become homeless, bounce around to different family members, lose focus in school, and undergo long-lasting psychological trauma. One study found that family income dropped by 70 percent in the six months following a deportation, and one quarter of families in that situation reported going hungry.

The second, a synthesis of field work at study sites in California, Florida, Texas, South Carolina, and Illinois, found all of those impacts — and also identified gaps in social services that are ill-equipped to handle the special needs of children whose families have been ruptured by immigration rules.

“Study participants reported that children refused to eat, pulled out their hair, or had persistent stomachaches or headaches,” the authors write. “Others turned to more self-destructive outlets such as cutting themselves or abusing substances.”

Find the full article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonkblog/wp/2015/09/21/this-is-what-would-happen-to-the-children-of-11-million-illegal-immigrants-if-president-trump-deported-them/

Find the report at: http://www.migrationpolicy.org/research/implications-immigration-enforcement-activities-well-being-children-immigrant-families

Kansas Legislation Aimed At Allowing Parents To Spank Harder Rejected

In Kansas currently spanking is allowed but it crosses the line and become child abuse when it leaves a mark. Kansas is one of a handful of states where corporal punishment is legal in schools. Democratic state representative, Gail Finney, aimed to expand that definition of corporal punishment by making it legal to spank and leave a mark for parents, teachers and other caregivers.

Finney says she proposed the law to “restore discipline to families” and protect parent’s rights.
The proposed law would legalize up to ten spankings by hand per child. The law would also allow parents to delegate others to spank their children and included no age limit on children who can be spanked.

Opponents say that one spank is too many and find Finney’s allocation of 10 strikes as completely arbitrary. Critics also allege that the bill attempts to legalize child abuse. Child abuse experts report that spanking is an outdated form of punishment and is less effective than time-outs.

Finney denied these accusations saying the bill was not intended to legalize child abuse but to establish consistent parental corporal punishment standards across Kansas. Britt Colle, the McPherson Deputy County Attorney who inspired Finney to draft the bill remarked, “This bill clarifies what parents can and cannot do. By defining what is legal, it also defines what is not.”

The bill was quickly rejected but has generated much debate on spanking, particularly in schools.