The only circumstance when parents lose their rights to be their children's surrogate is when the parents knowingly and intentionally put their children in harm's way or abandon the children. Parents are supposed to be the most trusted advocate for their children's best interests. When there is evidence of neglect or abuse, this sacred right is removed by the legal system.
Virtually all the states in America allow parents to refuse vaccination for personal or religious reasons. Only two states — Mississippi and West Virginia — do not allow parents to decline vaccines. In these states, the only reason a child can skip routine vaccination is due to a documented medical reason.
When parents refuse vaccination for their children, they are not acting out of malice or with any intent to harm. They are being their children's advocate, and they are doing everything possible to protect their children from harm. This important legal right should be respected, and government officials and physicians should understand the intention of parents. The right thing to do is not to deprive these parents of their rights but to make sure that they have the most reliable and up-to-date information when they make their decision for their children's health. Generally speaking, the government and doctors are not doing enough to understand the perspective of these parents and provide them with information. A more punitive approach is usually employed, and this only makes some parents more defensive.
Some states have laws that mandate vaccination for attendance of public schools. Consult your state legislature for such information. This book does not provide the information because it is impossible to stay current on the constantly shifting legal landscape.
In addition to vaccines, parents also have the right to refuse treatment for their children. As long as withholding treatment does not have a high probability of causing disability or death, most doctors should respect the parental wish. If a parent stands in the way of a life-saving medical intervention, doctors can supercede parental rights and administer the necessary treatment. If time permits, a court order should be obtained by the treating physician before overriding parental wishes.
Ultimately, neither the government nor health-care professionals should tell people what to do with their bodies, even in the name of protecting them. Each individual should retain the right to make decision about his own health. The government can and should protect minors when they are not capable of making decisions for themselves due to their youth. This is already an accepted role of the government. Current laws prohibit the sale and advertisement of cigarettes to minors but not to adults. Adults already possess enough life experience and wisdom to make decisions on their own, even if their action causes them harm. The government and health-care professionals should educate the public so each adult citizen can make the best decision based on the best available information. If a well-informed citizen decides to poison his body with cigarettes, it's perfectly legal.