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When do you and I (society …) get to control a mother’s relationship with her baby?

A debate broke out on FB. I'm just cutting pasting at the moment:

JS This is the second recent tragedy to my knowledge involving a lobbyist (read ideologue) for home births. Best practice surely would be to have a 'home birthing' suite colocated at a hospital for when things go wrong?

Mum dies in home birth tragedy 

Sanjeev Sabhlok J, this is an unexpected comment – from you. Public policy should ensure people can choose and are (through the education system primarily) informed about consequences. Mandating that home birthing be colocated with a hospital is an illiberal policy response.

MA So long as they keep it in the home. Keep it all: the labour, the birth, the complications, the death. That we in the medical profession should have to pick up from were they left off when the proverbial hits the fan infuriates me.

JS Rubbish. It a question of science over pomo superstition particularly when it's the child who often dies when things go wrong. I am not the ideological clone of the home birth fanatics.

JS I see your point, M.

MA Yes, I also see the point that the innocent child has nov choice in the matter.

KM I know a paramedic who hates being called to the aftermath of home births gone wrong, the midwives always leave it so late to call that either baby or mother or both are unsalvageable.

Sanjeev Sabhlok ‎"the innocent child has no choice in the matter". The question is whose child is it? What is the status of "ownership" of the society in the child?

NGT Any/all govt funding of home birthing should be abolished. It's an appalling practice that is killing babies

Sanjeev Sabhlok Agreed, N – on the first part of your statement. But why would you (through the government) fund anyone having babies? Why should someone who wants to have a baby at home have to pay for others to have babies in hospital? Wherefrom comes this great confidence in the ability of a government as a protector of babies? And whose babies are these? Did the government bear them in its womb for nine months?

NGT Well I don't believe in socialized medicine, so I think we substantially agree. Abortion needs to be banned in the same respect murder is – the stats does have a role (based on Millian conceptions of liberty) to protect the lives of the babies

Sanjeev Sabhlok N, I'm glad we agree that socialised medicine is the source of this conflict, where people feel their taxes are being spent on things they don't agree with – which causes angst. 

On the theory of abortion there are a few key aspects. First, the scientific question of when does a bunch of amorphous cells become human. For this see my draft manuscript The Discovery of Freedom ( ). Second, a baby that is still within a mother does not become a legal person till it displays itself to the world, and breathes more than its first breath. This is merely the practical demonstration of its existence as an independent human. At that stage the baby and mother are now separate entities, entitled to two different passports, and laws regarding murder of a person immediately come into force.

So, on your own baby's future – till it is born – you retain full control and should. However, your desire to control the behaviour of the others – mothers of babies which you did not bear nor bring up in your womb – could leave you open to the charges of illiberal paternalism (at the least) or coercive statism (at the most). 

Till a baby is born we all have to grin and bear it, regardless of our views, for the baby is part of the mother, not an independent entity. It is not our call to control what goes on inside the body of a woman. Let nature take its course till the baby is born and breathes. Then we can step in if the mother deliberately strangles her baby.

Sanjeev Sabhlok

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43 thoughts on “When do you and I (society …) get to control a mother’s relationship with her baby?
  1. Bhagwad Jal Park

    Actually, most countries have laws preventing parents from using quack or voodoo remedies on their child which endanger their lives. Lots of cases in the US have emerged where parents are convicted for using "faith healing" on their children suffering from cancer or perhaps something which could easily be cured by going to a doctor.
    As far as giving birth at home goes, if the statistics show that there's a high probability of mortality of the baby, then I'm all for the government insisting that the parents go to a hospital and pay the costs themselves.
    As for being a "legal person", most countries don't allow abortions beyond a certain stage of development of the foetus and many others treat the unborn child as a legal entity from the time of their conception itself (I don't agree with the last part by the way).

  2. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Bhagwad, by all means educate parents. You or anyone else,however, have no rights to COERCE them in any way. Because even you, Bhagwad, own only YOUR body (going by your self-ownership argument), not the body of others. By all means teach, don’t force.

    Consumer protection is another issue, by which all claims of healing (e.g. faith healing) must be documented. That would automatically prevent faith healing and all that crap.


  3. Bhagwad Jal Park

    I'm sorry, but parents can very well be coerced into providing the right care for their children. If their parenting proves dangerous to the child, they can (and should) be deprived of custody and prosecuted.
    The alternative is letting parents do whatever they want to their kids including torture them and place them in dangerous situations over which the child is not in control.
    Consumer protection laws via faith healing is false because the damage is already done and we all know that it doesn't work. That's the reason why medical doctors need a license before they can practise.

  4. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear Bhagwad

    Just like I suspected, you are confusion personified. A leftist libertarian cannot but fall on his own sword.

    Nowhere have I suggested that parents are entitled to do dangerous things to their children (e.g. torture). That would be a criminal act that should be duly punished.

    On the other hand WHO are YOU to suggest that YOU (!) know what is the “right care” for a child!!! This extreme paternalism on the basis of which you will COERCE parents demonstrates your TOTAL lack of understanding of liberty. In order to further show the ridiculous nature of your assertion, please explain to me in some detail WHO will determine the “right care”, HOW will it be determined, and WHO will administer this coercive requirement. Please ensure that your argument is consistent with the argument of (a) self-ownership, (b) the LEGAL right of the parent to commit suicide [being the absurd arguments you make on the other extreme – right libertarian extreme.

    You argue you are a man who advocates liberty. You even take unsustainable positions on the extreme right. Then you jump to the EXTREME LEFT by arguing your right to BLOCK the liberty of parents.

    Are these people your slaves?? Have you bought these parents? Have they mortgaged their children to you?

    Who are YOU?


  5. Bhagwad Jal Park

    Children fall into a special category. They're not adults with full rights. At the same time, they need to be in a safe environment.
    It's not me who will determine what is safe and what is not. It is the medical profession. I will blindly accept their recommendations because they're the experts. If the overwhelming majority of them say that childbirth at home is dangerous to the child, then parents have no right to give birth at home.
    You seem to miss the crux of the matter. The child is a legal entity well before birth. This is true in almost every country on the planet. It's a fact you cannot escape from no matter how much you try. And no person has the right to put another human being in danger.
    ESPECIALLY not a child.
    But the woman should have full rights to abortion before the foetus becomes a legal person.

  6. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear Bhagwad

    A woman owns her body and can legally commit suicide (according to your philosophy, not mine) and can even abort a child (according to you, and only up to a point in mine) but is not “allowed” by you (because of your infantile fascination with “experts”) to give birth the way she chooses to?

    Please explain how you jump from one end of a logic to another without realising you’ve done it?

    You’ve made an arbitrary definition (not natural) of “legal person”. I’m not bothered about such things. I’m talking basic principles. Law follows logic, not vice versa. Explain to me the logic of your control over a woman’s body (the child is ENTIRELY part of the woman’s body and is FULLY FED by the woman as if it were a part of her body) until it is able to breathe on its own. THEN it definitely is a “person” with full rights to protection against murder, etc.

    Without the woman feeding the child in the womb, the child CANNOT exist. The possibility of being a “person” does not exist.


  7. Bhagwad Jal Park

    Since the child cannot protect itself from abusive parents, the state has to provide for their protection in terms of rules for the parents. Rules for their behavior as far as the child is concerned.
    I think it's obvious that parents give up some of their rights when they choose to give birth. All these rights relate to the well being of the child. No moral judgments here. I'll just follow the data. It's not me who'll be deciding what's good for the child or not.
    For example, they can no longer choose to to not send the child to school can they? It's illegal to do that in most countries. Not sending the child to school is not emotional or mental torture on the child BTW. How do you manage to square that?
    A foetus remains just a foetus until it can feel pain – that's quite late in the pregnancy. Till that time, a woman can have as many abortions as she wants. Failing that, she takes on the responsibility of the child.

  8. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear Bhagwad

    Why are you moving the goal post? What are we discussing? e.g. “Since the child cannot protect itself from abusive parents, the state has to provide for their protection in terms of rules for the parents.” Where did I argue that parents have a right to abuse their children? Please stay on focus. If you can’t debate issues, avoid entering into them.

    “they can no longer choose to to not send the child to school can they?”. Of course they can choose NOT to send children to school. I’ve dealt with this in BFN. This is NOT abuse of the child. The parent might have different plans for the child’s future (e.g. artisan), but in most cases it is because the parent doesn’t agree with state-based education.

    You don’t have any consistent logic, and jump around from topic to topic when cornered. That’s not a good look.


  9. Bhagwad Jal Park

    Sorry Sabhlok – not sending a child to school IS considered abuse. You seem to think that parents OWN a child. That a child is their PROPERTY. That is just wrong. It's not a matter of opinion. You are WRONG.

  10. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Bhagwad, you do have peculiar and entirely inconsistent world-views. On the one hand you are comfortable for a pregnant mother to have the full legal right to commit suicide (since she owns her body), thus destroying an almost to-term child, but the moment a child is born, the child then now belongs to you, and you can start dictating what the woman can do with her child! Including what non-violent actions she may take (such as denying her right to not send her child to school but to educate it in any form or shape she prefers, being the parent).

    Are you the child’s parent? Are you paying for the child’s food? Are you responsible for its shelter? Are you paying the parents of the child? Are they your slaves who should somehow obey you?

    What gives? How do you manage such strange mental gymnastics?


  11. Polevaulter Donkeyman

    Both Bhagwad (re: healthcare) and Senjeev (re: schooling) have good points and I am going to split the difference (maybe a little in favour of Bhagwad). I agree that children are not the chattel of parents. Since the parents chose to have the child they are perforce going to have to give up a certain quantum of their rights. But one thing that should not be forgotten is that any state regulation would force a one-size-fits-all requirement and thus while it is appropriate in certain circumstances (such as health) in certain other circumstances (such as education) it may not be appropriate.

    My position is:

    1. Schooling — Schools (as in buildings where children are sent every weekday from 8 am to 2 pm) are not essential for education. If the parents want they can homeschool their children. The essential point is that the child is getting an education whether by a professional or by a parent (in fact whoever can provide a good education). If the parents deprive a child of an education that could be penalised because they are abrogating their duty to make their child self-sufficient and independent for the future when (more likely than not) the child will have to fend for itself and cannot depends on its parents (sicnce they have died).

    1a. The libertarian questions would be — is the right of the child being trampled by forcing it to learn when it would rather do something else? My response (and it is open to debate) is that children don't have the full fledged rights as adults do and hence don't have the liberty of choice.

    2. Child healthcare — Should parents have the freedom to withhold current healthcare practices from their child based on their religious beliefs? Christian Scientists do not believe in conventional medicine and thus Christian scientists have a higher rate of mortality (for comparable cohorts). I think people who have freely chosen to be Christian Scientists (or similar religions) can deny themselves conventional medicine, but cannot do so for their children who have not (obviously) freely chosen to belong to such religions. People have the right to freely exercise their religion of choice but they cannot force their religious tenets on people who do not believe their religion (or have no choice in the matter such as children). As to what should be the standard of care? The standard of care that is reasonably available (I don't see this as being difficult to understand)

    3. Home births — I agree to an extent with Sanjeev that prospective parents should be given full information about hospital births, home births and the pros and cons of each. Studies show that for low-risk pregnancies the safety is equal between hospital and home births in which case such parents should be allowed the choice. In case of high risk where home births could significantly raise the infant mortality I am with Bhagwad in that parents should be made to follow conventional medical protocol.

    3a. The question is how would it be known which pregnancy is high risk and which is low risk? That may well require medical check ups earlier in the pregnancy. So should all prospective parents be forced to undergo medical checkup? I think not. Let parents choose if they would or not. But if it turns out that the pregnancy was high-risk and the parents (willfully not knowing that) chose a home birth which led to complications and loss of the child they should be penalised. Now one may well argue why the differential treatment between low-risk pregnancy parents and high-risk pregnancy parents for the same action (and tha parents did not know a priori whether they were low-risk or high-risk)? But then many same actions have different consequences and hence are judged differently. E.g. failure to use indicator when changing lanes is a minor misdemeanour but if the conduct leads to a violent collision with concomitant loss of life then then the conduct rises to the level of vehicular homicide for which much greater penalties are available.

    4. Abortion/Suicide by a pregnant women — My position on when a foetus becomes a living being with concomitant right to life is when the foetus is viable i.e. when it is capable of an existence independent of the mother's body even with the assistance of medical equipment. This is typically of the order of 24 weeks. So no-question abortion is OK before this period. After this period abortion should be only for reasons of mother's health. As for suicide by a pregnant woman, if the foetus is before viability then there is no dispute, but after viability, if the woman does survive her suicide attempt, she should be prosecuted for murder (if the foetus dies) or attempted murder (if the foetus survives).

  12. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Sorry, PD, I was under the impression you are a “right” libertarian, i.e. one who wants liberty without accountability; the anarcho-capitalist goal. I have a separate debate on such matters, but it turns out that you are an EXTREME leftist, from the school of “I know best for you”. Statist, collectivist, socialist are the words that come to mind.

    I’m afraid I disagree with NONE of your statements that purport to impose YOUR views on parents or even individuals, e.g. I DISAGREE ENTIRELY with the following approaches:

    a) “If the parents deprive a child of an education that could be penalised”

    b) “people who have freely chosen to be Christian Scientists (or similar religions) can deny themselves conventional medicine, but cannot do so for their children”

    c) “In case of high risk where home births could significantly raise the infant mortality I am with Bhagwad in that parents should be made to follow conventional medical protocol.”

    d) “if the woman does survive her suicide attempt, she should be prosecuted for murder (if the foetus dies)”. In this case I oppose suicide as a legal right under any circumstance, but Bhagwad promotes suicide as a birth right. I do not, however, see any coherent argument for prosecuting anyone for a suicide attempt, least of all this absurd suggestion that the woman should be prosecuted for murder!

    I’m amazed (and saddened) at how far India has to go to understand the concept of liberty.

    I have asked point blank questions from Bhagwad. All of them apply to you, as well. The most fundamental one being – from WHERE do you get a right to barge into people’s houses and impose your choices on them even when they have not harmed YOU one bit?


  13. Sanjeev Sabhlok


    My answer to your question is obvious: “you’re comfortable with parents who don’t teach their children how to read or write if they believe that doing so is wrong”. YES.

    I’ve explained that I’ve dealt with this issue in BFN. Please check out the argument.


  14. Bhagwad Jal Park

    Sanjeev, you're back to labeling people I see. Any attempt to disagree with you (no matter how well reasoned) invites an extreme response from you. Therefore, it is you who are the extremist – not people who calmly debate without name calling.
    It's difficult to understand how you can give parents the freedom to ruin the lives of their children by not giving them basic education. Quite shocking really. What fault have the children committed to have such a horrible start in life?
    And you call other people extremists.

  15. Sanjeev Sabhlok


    Every worldview has a name. What I’ve been struggling for some time is to find out where you “fit” (after all, there are only a few possible combinations); and now PD. The contradictions in your worldview simply don’t strike you as being contradictions. Each time I raise them you merrily ignore them.

    Anyway, from what has been said so far it seems clear enough to me that you come from a perfectly statist world-view. You want people to be free to say what they want, but the moment they do something, you want to jump in and stop them (except for suicide, which you are somehow keen to get legal rights for).

    And re: “how you can give parents the freedom to ruin the lives of their children by not giving them basic education”, I’m afraid despite my repeated requests, you’ve not read BFN. Now you are alleging that I’m advocating freedom to RUIN childrens’ lives. Of course not. That’s a total distortion of what I’m saying.

    What you are unable to fathom (CLEARLY you are not a parent, yet) is that THERE IS NO ONE IN THE WORLD WITH GREATER CONCERN FOR A CHILD THAN THE PARENT. Extremely exceptional cases notwithstanding, I’ve not yet come across A SINGLE (normal) CASE where parents aren’t determined to get the best possible future for their children.

    The fact that in some cases they choose NOT to send their children to school is the BEST outcome for their child under those circumstances.

    For you, who have no child (I’m unlikely to be wrong on this deduction, but if I’m wrong, my apologies), to SECOND GUESS the decisions of parents is the most absurd extremist form of paternalism one can imagine. A paternal parent who has no child!

    You might still (assuming you are serious about learning something) consider reading BFN.


  16. Supratim

    "It's difficult to understand how you can give parents the freedom to ruin the lives of their children by not giving them basic education. Quite shocking really. What fault have the children committed to have such a horrible start in life?"
    I have to agree with Sanjeev here, and disagree completely with Bhagwad.
    It is perfectly legitimate and aspirational for a parent(s) to either "home-school" their child or adopt some other method of education, that is completely non-conventional.  It may be impossible for someone who comes from India   to understand this viewpoint especially  in the context of India, where education has been a stepping stone to bettering oneself or improving ones economic conditions.
    However, it is perfectly understandable from say, the context of the US, where home schooling is an option chosen by many parents. I am not including Europe in this context (which is where Bhagwad currently lives) because European states (whether eastern or western) have chosen to interfere in virtually all aspects of personal life of an individual, except possibly for sexuality.
    My daughter gave her SAT recently, and is applying to some US colleges and I helped her fill up the forms – interesting point is that even places like Harvard and Princeton have separate processes for home schooled or unconventionally educated children, who can not provide the normal transcripts and teachers' recommendation letters. Places like Harvard even say categorically that they do not distinguish between students based on where and how they did their schooling, but just on their innate abilities and skill sets. And, this is Harvard that we are talking about, probably the most elitist school on Planet Earth.
    What does that say to us, professors of liberty?
    Let us now take the flip side, where we have an interfering state like the Nordic states or France or even UK (BTW, the US also has a child welfare program that takes away children from abusive parents, but the program is defined and operated differently than from European states): Let us say that France decides that parents should not be allowed to pass on their biases or prejudices to their children, which then causes unnecessary strife and discord when the kids grow up. So, the parents are barred from teaching them religion or culture or anything else that would bias or prejudice the kid, and lead to less than wholesome adult being turned out. After all, this is also in the interest of the child's future – that he would be well adjusted and he would live in a well adjusted society.
    Would this be okay? If not, why not? And, why is preventing parents from teaching "bad" things to their children not an equally laudatory objective as forcing them to send kids to school?
    IF yes, the above scenario is fine (it could be fine, many societies have considered variations in history), then consider the following scenario:
    France decides that  the parents are being sneaky and are not abiding by the state directive of not inducing bad habits in their children. And, the kids are still being brought up badly and leading to a malfunctioning society, and to stress and anger in the adults, so some thing more must be done. So, the state orders that all children will be removed from their parents at the age of 5, from their bad influences, and sent to boarding school, where they will be given a bias-free and prejudice-free education, which will of course be uniform for everyone.
    Are we then okay with the above scenario? We should be okay, because this is the logical end point of the state forcing parents to do things. After all, the state knows best.

  17. Bhagwad Jal Park

    You have a habit of being extreme – your tendency to label people ignores their nuanced positions. Here's one example of what you said:
    "You want people to be free to say what they want, but the moment they do something, you want to jump in"
    It's not "the moment they do SOMETHING"! It's "the moment they don't give proper care to their children who DESERVE better.
    Notice how you take one thing, twist it into one of your convenient little labels and therefore ignore the rest. That's just intellectual laziness.

  18. Bhagwad Jal Park

    As for parents being the best "well wishers" of their child, this is a matter of principle which has to apply as a rule for every single parent in the country. The RULE being that the child must get an education. Whether home tutoring, or a building…whatever.
    Parents have no right to impose any quack ideas they have on their innocent children whose lives will be ruined because of it.

  19. Polevaulter Donkeyman

    1. Anarcho-capitalism does not prescribe liberty without accountability, in fact in an A-C system you are always accountable for all your actions. I suggest you read more about anarcho-capitalism, specifically David D Friedman’s excellent Machinery of Freedom available at to disabuse yourself of how A-C leads to accountability. Remember “Anarchy” has multiple meanings but “Anarcho” in anarcho-capitalism has a very specific meaning — “Absence of a publicly enforced government or violently enforced political authority”. Stop confusing the colloquial meaning of “anarchy” with the technical meaning of “Anarcho” in anarcho-capitalism.

    2. You call me statist? I was SHOCKED to read in BFN that you suggest that the government has the power to ban smoking in private bars. You want the govt to prevent willing individuals to congregate in a private place and indulge in behaviour that does not harm any unwilling individual? And you call me statist? Hello Pot? Is that you? (Page 59)

    3. You say — “The most fundamental one being – from WHERE do you get a right to barge into people’s houses and impose your choices on them even when they have not harmed YOU one bit?” So if a parent abuses its child (e.g. Josef Fritzl or Armando Lucero) you are OK with that? After all they have not harmed you one bit.

    4. I skimmed BFN (downloaded from your website) but did not find any mention of where you specifically deal with the issue of parent’s who don’t teach their children to read and write. Could you please provide me with the exact page reference?

    5. So you agree with the parents’ right to deprive their children of best-practices of modern healthcare (reasonably available) just so the parents could impose their OWN freely-chosen religious obligations on their children who have had no choice in the matter? And you on page 115 of BFN resent the imposition of being called a Hindu by the Hindu Succession Act disregarding your own choices in the matter?

    6. In my hypothetical above of a pregnant woman attempting suicide (with a viable foetus) why do you not believe in prosecuting her for attempted murder (if the foetus lives) and murder (if the foetus dies). Just to make it clear the woman will not be prosecuted for attempting to kill herself but for recklessly and wilfully endangering her foetus (this will be 2d degree murder in most jurisdictions). If according to you it is because you draw a hard and fast line at first breath then we will have to disagree.

    7. As for children and schooling — If you read what I wrote above you would realise that I do not propose making it compulsory for parents to send their children to a brick building called a school. They are free to teach their children at home. What I propose is that such parents teach a bare minimum to the children such as the 3 Rs (I am not asking the parents to teach their children subatomic physics and differential geometry)

    8. The basic question is — do children have any rights vis-a-vis their parents? Your above assertion shows that you don’t think so. For you children are the chattel of their parents and parents can do whatever they want to them. Can your philosophy do anything regarding parents who deliberately ruin the lives of their children? How would you deal with the Fritzls of the world?

  20. Polevaulter Donkeyman


    You write on page 224 of BFN —

    only if both parents have a conclusive record of neglecting their children can a government make better decisions on behalf of the child.

    Somehow the words Statist, collectivist, socialist come to mind. Are you an EXTREME leftist, from the school of “I know best for you”? On a more serious note can you distinguish the quote above from my position as has been outlined in comment #12?

  21. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear Bhawad

    I asked earlier and you did not respond. Once again, when you say: “It’s “the moment they don’t give proper care to their children who DESERVE better.”

    a) What is “proper care”?
    b) Who determines it?
    c) Who pays for it?
    d) What gives society a right to provide “proper care” (schooling) by putting parents behind bars? Would the rights of the child not be trampled (apart from the rights of the parent).
    e) How many cases of such improper care are you aware of?
    f) Do you know of the reasons for such “improper” care?

    Your comments are based on totally ignoring the entire reality of parent’s choices, freedoms, natural interests, even child’s interests, apart from totally ignoring the costs of your alleged desperate urge to “care” for others’s children. You’re not going to be paying for that, I assume? – or are you? Pl. let me know.


  22. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    BJ, “The RULE being that the child must get an education. Whether home tutoring, or a building…whatever.”

    Please show me who wrote that rule? Who is paying for that rule? Etc.


  23. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    PD, you rightly note my comment that: “if both parents have a conclusive record of neglecting their children can a government make better decisions on behalf of the child”.

    That’s a high level summary of the situation where parents have actually harmed their children. The sentence is intended to imply severe harm. In DOF I clarify the concept of harm. There has to be an intention to harm the child, as a first requirement. Harm must predominantly be physical. It must be, to be precise, brutal. It is of the sort that some drug-addict parents in the West cause to their children in their moments of temporary insanity. The child is a legal entity, a citizen, and thereafter gets all necessary protection from the state for its protection from such harm.


  24. Bhagwad Jal Park

    Sanjeev, "basic" care is something determined by the government after consultation with those whose job it is to know. Reading and writing is one component of basic care.
    Who has to pay for it? The parents of course! If the parents repeatedly refuse to do what's necessary, the state takes away the children and places them in a foster home. Part of my taxes go towards that.

  25. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear BJ

    This discussion is NOT about basic care. You are talking about harm caused.

    If it were about “basic care” the question would be: Why is ANYONE entitled to “basic care”? (I’ve got a theory of social minimum, but NOT “basic care”).

    And if “basic care” were an issue, why would government determine it? And “experts” (“those whose job it is to know”)? That’s sheer laziness.

    The government is your representative, your agent. It is YOU who determine such things by sending the right representatives. And from where do “experts” enter the picture? Who, btw, is an “expert”?

    Am I, for instance, with 18 years in the IAS in senior roles including Secretary of the Education Department in Assam, with a doctorate in economics from a highly ranked US research university, and 11 years of experience PURELY in policy making (including regulatory policy) in one of the best administered, and one of the wealthiest nations in the world, an “expert”? (And that is merely peanuts compared with my extensive readings and writings. My book/s on these matters – do they make me an “expert”?)

    You must go back to the drawing board and decide what you want: either liberty (for which you wail frequently), or strong control by government and experts, and for the bureaucrats to take away your child from you should they define a “non-caring” parent as one who demands free speech – and demands that children be assisted in committing suicide, if they wish.

    Experts are a dime a dozen. Even Hitler hired experts, including the “best” philosophers and academics (and priests) of his time.

    Don’t you think that your demand for liberty is severely compromised by your insatiable thirst to be controlled by bureaucrats?


  26. Bhagwad Jal Park

    Sanjeev, no adult has a right to "basic care".
    Children do.
    Let's take one thing at a time. For starters, I'm including teaching the child how to read and write in basic care. Do you contest that?

  27. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    From where do your “basic care” rights arise? Let’s sort that out first. Pl. start from the basics of liberty (or if you prefer, from the concept of coercion). Do make sure you are consistent with your basic postulate throughout – including free speech and suicide.


  28. Bhagwad Jal Park

    No, let's not start from there. Let's start with reading and writing first. Are they basic requirements for a child or not? Since our difference boils down to this, I have to know whether you consider them a basic requirement or not.
    A simple yes/no will suffice.

  29. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Bhagwad, our difference is NOT so simple. You are simply unable to articulate a coherent worldview. That’s the difference.

    Re: “Let’s start with reading and writing first. Are they basic requirements for a child or not?”

    No. These are NOT “basic requirements” (whatever these things be – in your philosophy which you yourself don’t know). For 100,000 years humans did not know have language, therefore no script. Even after the script came, few came to know about it; yet mankind continued to survive.

    You must define “basic”.

    You must define “requirement”. What is a requirement? By whom? On whom?


  30. Bhagwad Jal Park

    I see – congratulations for comparing living in the modern day and age to the stone age. Why not teach our children to hunt and kill prey which were basic requirements at that time?
    Are you debating this seriously or taking it as a joke?

  31. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    BJ this is dead serious. You simply can’t address a single question or show a coherent world-view. Ignoring your irrelevant comment (I have raised not a stone age but a fundamental issue – challenging the meaning of ‘basic’) you should define to me “basic”, then “requirement”.

    These terms can’t be bandied about as carelessly as you are doing.

    Define your terms first.

  32. Bhagwad Jal Park

    Sanjeev, you can judge the quality of an ideology by the results it produces. If the results are silly, then one doesn't need to listen to it – you already know its worth.
    Your ideology produces the result that reading and writing should not be mandatory for growing children. If anyone is reading this comment stream, let them reach this place and make their own judgments.
    You're not going to change your opinion. Let the educated and rational readers make up their own minds by seeing the consequences of your ideology.

  33. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    BJ you’ve constantly missed my point. And refused to listen to the detailed explanations of the REALITY, that I’ve offered (that your hypothesis is imaginary since parents are determined to achieve the best results for their children). You also fail to note in BFN that I’ve included access to education as a crucial part of the social minimum.

    You are unilaterally focused on COERCING others. That’s all I can sense. No logic is relevant in your worldview. No principles. Just coercion. You want me to concur in coercion. I DO NOT CONCUR WITH COERCION UNLESS SOMEONE HAS DIRECTLY HARMED S0MEONE. There is no “positive” obligation in the model of liberty.

    And you REPEATEDLY fail to address questions and define words. What kind of debating is this? Let’s move on, please. You must reflect on what you want (coercion) – and why you are so committed to coercion as the FIRST remedy.


  34. ramesh

    Re: Let the educated and rational readers make up their own minds by seeing the consequences of your ideology.

    Now that you took the interest in the views of educated and rational readers, here is my opinion (assuming myself to be so)

    My wife is pregnant. It would be my great pleasure if she could deliver at home NATURALLY without any man made medicines of which I am always sceptic. But I won’t allow it because she is not strong, healthy and thinks exactly like you (modern thinking). So definitely she would deliver in the hospital and not because that ‘delivering in the hospital’ is always justified.

    Who are the medical experts? I have heard such experts to be suffering from the diseases on which they are renowned to be expert!!

    Learning and writing are ‘means’ to live the life and not the ends. That life would be otherwise relatively miserable is different thing. You cannot impose the ‘means’ upon others. Let them take the decisions themselves.

    So as Sabhlok says your views seem to put extreme views together.

  35. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    PD, I’m afraid the information provided is insufficient to form a view. One of the comments states this:

    “Learn the facts about the video before you guys talk about it, morons. He did this because at a young age his son was said to have many health problems and he might die at the age of 5. He was also said to have cerebral palsy due to the water in his brain at child birth. So UNDERSTANDING THIS, the father decided to take it upon himself to make his son stronger by doing many activities such as swimming in 21c water, and hiking for 10km, etc etc. He has no health problems now”

    I would appreciate if you provide me with the FULL CONTEXT.

    It is quite possible that this example merely strengthens the key argument I am making: that the casual observer (like you or me) is not even remotely close to the love parents have for their children.

    Second, is this child yours? No. Did you bring it up so far, for 4 years (clearly the child has survived)? Are you going to pay for ALL such children who are taken away from their parents (or parents taken away from their children)?

    In brief, till you (A) pay attention to this case at the SAME level of diligence that the parent has done – and at least find out ALL relevant facts, (B) assure me that you are going to pay for this child after his father is imprisoned (which is what people like you seem to want as a FIRST solution), I’m afraid I can’t comment on this case.

  36. Polevaulter Donkeyman


    You are right that there is a problem of abuse in state, religious and private bodies, and such problems have to be faced and corrected. But that does not mean that every worker in these entities is a paedophile.

    My point is that there are certain, rare times that parents can be penalised for not doing their duty wrt to their children. Such penalties can be on a graded curve as in fines for not giving the children an elementary education, malnutrition (as in intentional starvation, not feeding them food not considered nutritious enough by do-gooders) to harsh penalties such as jailtime for serious child abuse.

    This would also limit the size of foster care organizations allowing for more intense scrutiny.

    Do you think Felicia Rea McClure should lose custody of her child or be penalised in some other way? This is what she wanted to do to her 13-yr old daughter —


  37. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Look, PD,

    I’m getting a bit tired of this debate. Now you have even MORE delusional ideas, e.g. “fines for not giving the children an elementary education”.

    Do you even know WHICH parents can’t send their children to school??????????

    So ENTIRELY divested of reality, these arguments are now taking the shape of “how many elephants can dance on a pin head”?

    Pl. move on. When you grow up and understand the world a bit better, we can further discuss (if anything remains to discuss).


  38. Polevaulter Donkeyman


    You say “Do you even know WHICH parents can’t send their children to school??????????” and thus imply that such a system is unenforceable.

    That is like saying since we cannot each and every murderer, we should repeal all laws against murder.

    I admit I made an error in phrasing. By elementary education I meant basic, the 3Rs. I apologise if I gave the impression of forcing parents to send their children to school. If anyone reads my comments above, parents would be free to homeschool their children.

    BTW I notice that you had nothing to say about the woman who tried to sell her 13 yr old daughter’s virginity for USD 10,000. Are you OK with parents having the right to do that?

    You seem to have backed yourself into a corner regarding children’s rights vis-a-vis their parent (or their non-existence thereof). Do you admit that children have certain legal rights which their parents have a legal duty to respect? Or do you still want to stick to your guns that children are the chattel of their parents?

  39. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    PD I did say that we should discuss when you grow up.

    You are quick to miss the point and jump to very incorrect conclusions. Very difficult to talk to you, I find. Inconsistency, lack of understanding of reality, all come together in your writings.

    a) Child labour is caused by SOCIALISM, which impoverishes parents, hence they can’t send their children to school -NOR educate them in any way. It is NOT for want of a desire to teach their children but due to socialist policy. You are focusing on ONE possible case out of 1000000 million where a parent doesn’t want his child to prosper. That’s why you are like the fool who talks about the number of elephants who can dance on a pin. I don’t do such extreme cases of ‘logic’. Please spare me your imaginary debates.

    b) I WILL NOT repeat what I’ve said again and again re: HARM.

    This is the last comment I’m entertaining from you on this topic.



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