Demonstrators miss mark by miles

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If only there were a vaccine to prevent gross misunderstandings.

Protesters drawing attention to their frustrations in front of Kootenai Health last week exercised one of the precious rights every American enjoys. Good for them. And good for our great nation.

Unfortunately, they’re picking on the wrong target.

Caught up in some kind of feverish anti-establishment frenzy, protesters accusing the community hospital of “medical kidnapping” and “coercing parents” would be far better served taking up their complaint with the Idaho Legislature. They’re the folks who write Idaho’s laws, and Kootenai Health is guilty only of following those laws.

To put it simply, physicians are required to report any instance in which they believe an infant, child or vulnerable adult is being prevented from receiving necessary medical attention. The anguish of a parent who loses custody under these circumstances, whether through religious beliefs or other criteria that they’d prefer to follow, is understandable. But Kootenai Health, by law, cannot look the other way. Nor should it.

Lawmakers correctly assert that even the best-intentioned parents have no right to put their children’s physical well-being in jeopardy. Our laws support the fact that highly trained medical personnel are better positioned to assess the harm certain actions or inactions might cause vulnerable people; those laws encumber medical professionals with the responsibility to report their concerns to the state’s Child Protective Services.

Any who object to that procedure will get nowhere by trying to intimidate or embarrass hospital employees. Instead, they should channel their energy in more constructive, more accurate directions. That’s the Legislature, from the process of medical professionals reporting dangerous situations and perhaps including the powers of CPS.

Just understand that many more citizens will be working just as hard, if not harder, to ensure the safety of our state’s most vulnerable citizens.

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