NBC News

Police Raid Of Arizona Home Over Feverish Baby Shows The Limits To Parental Rights

That story about the Arizona parents whose children were taken away from them after refusing to get their son medical care has exposed the divide between parental rights and what could be deemed "medical neglect."

Police Had Broken Down Family's Door

Recent body cam footage that showed Arizona police officers breaking down the front door of a home to rescue a sick child has raised more questions about what is excessive law enforcement.

Parental Protections Could Be Limited

Unsplash | Alberto Casetta

According to NBC News, parents who decline medical care for their child may have minimal legal protection when a potential life-threatening condition arises.

Doctor Was Concerned About 105-Degree Temperature

NBC News

Last month, police had gone to an Arizona home after a doctor was concerned that a couple's child with a 105-degree temperature might not get the help he needed. The doctor had called the state Department of Child Safety, which then contacted Chandler police.

Child-Neglect Laws Do Exist

Unsplash | Steven Van Loy

The parents had visited the doctor earlier, where it was determined the child had a high fever.

According to Douglas Diekema, education director for the Center for Pediatric Bioethics at Seattle Children's Hospital, authorities had a right to intervene.

A temperature of 105 degrees was "the threshold at which the state (Arizona) is reasonable in intervening because it has an independent duty to protect the child if the parents are unwilling or unable to do so," Diekema says.

"That's why we have child neglect and abuse laws, after all," Diekema added.

Meningitis Was a Fear

According to NBC, the child, who was unvaccinated, may have been in danger of contracting meningitis, which can be a life-threatening illness.

"The ethical principle is that if your child is in imminent risk of dying, and if it's likely that medical attention could reverse that, then as a parent you don't have the right to allow your child to die," says Dr. Arthur Caplan, a bioethics professor at New York University School of Medicine.

Doctors, Officials Are Just Doing Their Job

Unsplash | Ani Kolleshi

The story adds that in many states, medical professionals are often required to report to authorities if a child's life may be in danger due to a parent's decision.

So parents' choice whether to bring their child to seek medical care could have long-reaching consequences under state laws.