As the battle against COVID-19 continues to rage, various levels of government are increasingly taking authoritarian approaches in response to differing views. Pressure to vaccinate minors is increasing, as is pressure to shut down dissenting opinions. This trend is ominous.
According to TheCity.NYC, the New York City Administration for Children’s Services recently gave its partner organizations the green light to vaccinate 16- and 17-year-olds living in foster homes or juvenile detention centers against COVID-19, “‘even if a parent cannot be located or affirmatively objects.’” In addition to being heavy-handed and unnecessary, it is legally problematic and unfair to apply such a rule to only one subset of parents.
In the New York State Legislature, several senators have introduced legislation to allow 14- and 15-year-old New Yorkers to receive vaccinations (including COVID-19 vaccinations) without parental consent. By taking parents out of the picture, this proposal would flagrantly violate parental rights and create a very real danger that teens—acting without parental guidance—could be harmed by obtaining vaccines that are contraindicated for them.
At the New York State Capitol, Gov. Kathy Hochul recently mentioned that the COVID-19 vaccine is on its way to being approved for children ages five and up. While the Governor would prefer to leave decisions about children’s vaccinations up their parents, she is also “open” to mandating the COVID-19 vaccination for young children if a more relaxed approach does not lead to the types of results she is looking for.
On the federal level, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland recently wrote to the FBI to ask for their help in handling threats from unruly parents who speak out on COVID mandates and other matters of concern at school board meetings. As noted by Kristen Waggoner of Alliance Defending Freedom, such an approach is alarming and unnecessary. Unruly parents at school board meetings can be dealt with by local law enforcement.
While COVID-19 is a very serious matter, government must resist the pressure to respond in a disproportionate, heavy-handed manner and must always uphold the constitutional rights and freedoms of all Americans. If it cannot, then it is incumbent upon free Americans to hold that government accountable, either in the court system or at the ballot box.