For the children? Or not?

I have just returned home after sharing in one of the greatest blessings that life provides – celebrating the birth of our newest grandson. With much gratitude to God, we rejoiced at the arrival of a healthy baby into the loving arms of our daughter and her husband.

The pregnancy nausea (nine months worth), the discomfort of labor (well, actually, the outright, incredible pain of labor) were in the past and an unusually peaceful and adorable baby was available for cherishing and protecting. There was, in fact, only one proverbial fly in the ointment.

Almost directly after birth, instead of cuddling in his mother’s arms, the baby needed to face a medical procedure designed to extract blood from his heel as part of the standard, mandated PKU testing, designed to reveal whether the baby is lacking in a necessary enzyme. If that deficiency shows up, carefully monitoring the diet of both the nursing mother and the child can prevent major problems.

Now, as the daughter of a polio survivor, and as someone who is RH incompatible with her husband, I tend to be grateful for immunizations and tests that are available today. However, after asking a few questions, it turns out that the PKU test done in the hospital is in fact given too soon in the baby’s life to give very accurate results. It needs to be repeated a short time later. So why is it done?

Here, in my opinion, is the inexcusable answer. Testing is mandated in the hospital because some parents don’t take their infants in for the scheduled check-ups. In other words, my grandson needs to have his first few hours in the world become, even for a short time, a period of pain surrounded by strangers, because other newborns’ parents can’t be trusted.

Isn’t this a little young to teach a new citizen the lesson that when society legislates its rules on the assumption that people are too stupid, too poor, too uneducated, too irresponsible, etc, etc., to take care of themselves, it ends up punishing those who work on themselves to become wise, wealthy, educated and responsible – and their families? That taking care of people as if they were animals who need a farmer to manage them doesn’t end up making everyone better off, but actually makes the lives of most people worse?

I know that’s the reality of life in America today for adults – but as a grandma, it sure hurts when it reaches straight into the life of my newest treasure.

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