COMMENTARY | I hope the little girl, Emily, who has been sought by Phoenix police after her mother walked out of the hospital with her a week ago, is all right. But I think that the hospital and the authorities are wrong to be pursuing this child and her family.
According to the Associated Press , authorities are considering bringing child neglect charges against the family after the mother led 11-year-old Emily — diagnosed with leukemia and a recent amputee — out of the hospital. The child was due to be released the following day. The hospital is saying that the tubing left in the girl’s chest when she left the hospital could cause her to contract an infection.
The search for this child, who was not kidnapped or forcibly removed from the facility, has gone so far to include U.S. Border Patrol agents, who stopped the child’s father as he crossed from Arizona to Mexico over the weekend. After initially stating that he didn’t know where the little girl was, he has since said in news interviews that his daughter is safe and being treated in Mexico.
With no evidence to the contrary, what right do police have to continue to pursue this matter? An officer said on Wednesday that authorities just want to make sure Emily is getting the right medical attention. But if the parents chose to remove their child from one hospital and take her somewhere else for treatment, what business is it of the police to demand answers as to the treatment she is receiving? What sort of precedent does this set in regards to hospitals and the control they have over patients? Is there anything in the state or federal law that requires a parent to ask permission to take a child that they have full custody of from a hospital setting?
Further, if the police only want to ask questions, what’s up with the all-out search? And, having engaged in this search, is it any wonder the parents don’t want to give out information about where their child is? What happens if they do? Do the authorities sweep in and take the kid away?
I understand that the tube left in the little girl’s chest could cause problems for her if it isn’t cared for by medical professionals. I understand that the child’s immune system is already compromised due to the chemotherapy she was receiving, and I understand the concern the doctors have for their patient. But if the parent chooses to remove the child from the hospital, I don’t see how it is any of the hospital’s business what further treatment is sought, when, or where that treatment is sought. Nor do I think the police have a right to continue to pursue the matter without compelling proof that the parent has committed some sort of wrongdoing.