California's Absurd and Insidious 'Bill of Rights for Children' Invites Pernicious Meddling

Richard Pan's bill reflects a busybody mindset that undermines parents and endangers children.


Office of Richard Pan

Anti-vaccine activists are sounding the alarm about a California bill that should trouble you even if you have nothing against immunization. The bill, S.B. 18, would codify the Bill of Rights for Children and Youth in California, a philosophically confused hodgepodge of false assertions and blatantly unrealistic aspirations that could be disastrous as a guide to policy.

The bill was introduced this month by Richard Pan, the pediatrician and state senator who sponsored the 2015 law that eliminated "personal belief" exemptions from state immunization requirements for children enrolled in school or day care. Critics of the new bill, who seem to consist largely of alternative medicine advocates, portray it as a threat to parental authority, gun rights, homeschooling, and health freedom. Snopes rejects those claims, noting that the critics have a grudge against Pan and that the bill does not give state officials any new authority to interfere with child rearing. Although Snopes is right on both points, Pan's seemingly anodyne bill does reflect some creepy and insidious moral premises.

As far as I can tell, Pan's seven-point list of rights—which among other things declares that "all children and youth" have a right to "appropriate, quality health care," to "social and emotional well-being," to "appropriate, quality education and life skills leading to self-sufficiency in adulthood," and to "opportunities to attain optimal cognitive, physical, and social development"—would have no immediate practical effect. It builds on a 2009 concurrent resolution that likewise did not create any new programs, authorize any new spending, or give state or local officials any new powers.

Instead of doing something, S.B. 18 would declare the legislature's intent to do something: develop and fund "research-based policy solutions that will ensure the Bill of Rights for Children and Youth of California, in its totality, is applied evenly, equitably, and appropriately to all children and youth across the state." Toward that end, the bill declares a legislative intent to "enact appropriate legislation" by January 1, 2022. Legislators would decide what's appropriate, which could involve all manner of mischief and boondoggles but also could amount to nothing at all.

All of the "rights" declared by Pan's bill are vague, and several of them involve claims on other people's resources. In Pan's view, the decision to reproduce gives people a license to raid the wallets of total strangers who had no say in that decision. Furthermore, there are no clear limits to that license, since it's anybody's guess what "appropriate, quality health care" or "appropriate, quality education" might entail, what it takes to achieve "social and emotional well-being," or how the government can guarantee "optimal cognitive, physical, and social development."

The most contentious "rights" in Pan's list are the ones that imply second-guessing of parental decisions and interference with family relationships. S.B. 18 says children have a right to "live in a safe and healthy environment," to have "parents, guardians, or caregivers who act in their best interest," and to "form healthy attachments with adults responsible for their care and well-being." Since it's not clear what happens when a parent's idea of a healthy environment, healthy attachments, or a child's best interest conflicts with a legislator's or a bureaucrat's, you can start to see why the bill's opponents call it "an attempt by power-hungry California legislators to further degrade the rights of parents," argue that it "will eventually make the State the top-dog controlling force over all children in California," warn that "it's extremely problematic to allow a very small group of people to decide what constitutes 'best' for…millions of families," or worry that Pan's dubious, undefined rights "could easily be manipulated to make a case for confiscating your child."

While these dangers are theoretical at this point and might remain so even if Pan's bill passes, the state does (and should) impose limits on parental authority, as illustrated by laws against child abuse or the debate over mandatory vaccination. A legislature that takes this vacuous list of rights seriously would be more inclined to err on the side of intervention, with potentially pernicious implications for parental prerogatives and children's welfare. Does homeschooling qualify as "appropriate, quality education"? Is a household that contains firearms a "safe and healthy environment"? Is a strict religious upbringing consistent with "optimal cognitive, physical, and social development"? Are parents who let their child eat junk food, walk to the playground by himself, or participate in risky sports acting in his "best interest"? People's opinions on such subjects vary widely. Pan's bill invites legislators to enforce their opinions under the pretense of protecting children's rights.

Pan seems oblivious to these concerns. His spokeswoman told Snopes critics of S.B. 18 "don't want to understand the bill and instead choose to make up lies about the legislation and the senator." In opposing the bill, she said, "they oppose an effort to empower parents and ensure children and families get the support they need to succeed." Common Sense Kids Action, which backs S.B. 18, likewise sees only good intentions. Beverly Kumar, a spokeswoman for the group, says Pan's bill would begin "the process of laying out a vision of the kinds of comprehensive and research-based supports every one of our state's children should have a right to access." Who could object to that?

Kumar is one of those activists who says "our children" when she is referring to other people's children, betraying a busybody mindset that slides easily from coercively funded "supports" to bans and mandates enforced at the point of a gun. Pan's bill perfectly embodies that mindset, which only wants to help and can't imagine how that attitude could cause any harm.

NEXT: Brickbat: You Know What I Find Offensive?

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  1. And some crazy non-left wing people want another Constitutional Convention. Any new amendments would read like this or Kennedy’s Obergefell decision.

    1. That’s always my fear with a Constitutional Convention: the people involved with it would be of drastically lower quality than the original crowd.

      There’s nothing wrong with the Constitution. No need for a convention. We just need to start abiding by it.

      A couple hundred years of corrosive, statist Supreme Court precedents hasn’t helped, but there is no actual requirement for the court to follow precedent.

    2. That’s how you end up with this kind of nonsense in your constitution:

      “Membership in any pension or retirement system of the State, any unit of local government or school district, or any agency or instrumentality thereof, shall be an enforceable contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired.” (Illinois)

    3. This is Taxifornia. This state was so upset about Trump winning, they are going to incrementally destroy parental rights with vague children’s rights that allow the state to second-guess at every turn.

      3/4 of the state are required for ratification. Any nonsense Amendments coming out of California can just be ignored by the remaining states. The left are scared shitless of a constitution convention because further restrictions on their agendas would indicate a clear American rejection of progressivism and add more hurdles to political power.

      Similarly, how the Founding Fathers creation of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution was a clear colonial rejection to English political power.

      Amendments that added in term limits for Congressmen; Congressional pay withholding for not passing a balanced budget each year; requiring Congressional approval of every federal dollar every year; further restricting search, seizure and eminent domain; requiring 75%+ votes in Congress for any tax increase; clarify 2nd Amendment is individual right and zero restrictions; limit commerce and general welfare clauses further.

      Or people can demand that the current constitution be followed and cut the federal government by 50%+ and get as many constitutionalist federal judges to uphold those limitations.

      or just water the tree of liberty soon.

      1. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has proposed a list of potential amendments to the Constitution that I think most Libertarians could get behind. But good luck getting any of them passed without an Article V Convention.

    4. You misunderstand a constitutional convention. All it can do is propose amendments which still have to be approved by 3/4 of the states.

      I believe the prospect of such a convention is a good guarantee of the second amendment. 11 states have permitless carry, most of the rest are shall issue carry permits. It would be a piece of cake to approve a revised 2A if the Supreme Court were to abuse it.

      1. Thank you. I’ve heard this fear-mongering about a CC so often, I have to keep looking it up to make sure I read the Consitution right.

  2. “Snopes rejects those claims, noting that the critics have a grudge against Pan and that the bill does not give state officials any new authority to interfere with child rearing. Although Snopes is right on both points,. . . ”

    I don’t think Snopes does slippery slopes.

    1. Who the hell listens to Snopes?

      1. Left wingers looking to make Arguments from Authority?

    2. I don’t think Snopes does fact checking. Even reading the linked to article, it was especially weak. The original source for the complaints didn’t highlight specific language allowing it. Yet, the ‘rights’ here are vague, outcome based positive rights, and overly broad so that they can be interpreted to mean whatever the hell you want them to mean. It’s not a slippery slope argument. It comes down to whatever interpretation the bureaucrats will adopt and what the courts will allow.

      1. Snopes is all right for debunking urban legends. I’ve found their recent forays into politics to be incredibly low-quality.

        1. No shit. Especially since someone there is an admitted prog. Yeh, total street cred.

          Stick to urban myths and let the big people deal with the real stuff.

      2. “”overly broad so that they can be interpreted to mean whatever the hell you want them to mean.”

        Feature, not a bug.

  3. The only thing Huxley got wrong was the location.

  4. Richard Pan, the pediatrician … seven-point list of rights?which among other things declares that “all children and youth” have a right to “appropriate, quality health care,”

    Seems to me you could take your kid to Pan’s office and declare that the child be treated ASAP for FREE, because ‘rights!’


    2. If I lived in California, that is exactly what I would do.

      And then I would alert the media that Mr. Pan is a no good, lying, piece of shit who doesn’t care about the children, he only cares about power.

      For some reason, I don’t think the media would listen to me.

  5. Also, a comment or question I had after the black face story yesterday. Is it still racist if I dress in a costume with black face of someone who isn’t really black? Like, say, Clarence Thomas?

    1. Go with one side black, one side white, call yourself Obama. If that upsets them, say you are the negative-Obama.

    2. Colin Powell? Tiger Woods? Wayne Brady?

      1. Is Wayne Brady gonna have to choke a bitch?

  6. It seems to me non-retarded individuals have an inviolable right to depart Californian soil for freer territories. Perhaps Texas is still fertile ground for those who propone American republicanism.

    1. As Colorado has learned to its dismay, when you have open borders for California refugees, a disturbingly large percentage of them gleefully start implementing the failed policies they fled.

      1. But things will be different this time.

      2. The upside for me is that anyone who leaves to infect Colorado with those policies is NOT in California.

    2. “non-retarded individuals …Californian…”

      Are there any of those left? Besides whoever post here, obviously.

  7. All of the “rights” declared by Pan’s bill are vague, and several of them involve claims on other people’s resources.

    Only hoarders, wreckers and kulaks would deny the state its right to their labor.

  8. Florida Man: Crazy, or just ballsy?

    Adams told the officer that he told the 911 operator he wasn’t wearing clothes “because it was funny, it’s always funny.”…..ime/ntRmt/

  9. PhD candidates are required to submit a dissertation on new, original research contributing to humanity’s body of knowledge. This can be quite useful if you’re looking for a doctorate in a field of applied science, not so much in some of the less practical fields. Lets say you’re interested in becoming a Civil War historian – what is there new and original to say on the matter? But to get that Doctor title, you’re going to have to come up with some silly bullshit you can sell as a ground-breaking advancement for humanity.

    If you’re trying to become a legislator, you have to come up with some new legislation – and what don’t we already have a surfeit of laws on? To get that Lawmaker title, you’re going to have to come up with some silly bullshit you can sell as a ground-breaking advancement for humanity.

    1. Nuthin’ to it. All of my proposed legislation would read: “Law XYZ is hereby repealed.”

      Endless possibilities.

      1. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Silent Cal Coolidge is mocked by many today (despite having a budget surplus for his term) while FDR is considered by the same people as one of our greatest presidents. Conservatism and/or libertarianism has the deck stacked against them.

        1. That crap is taught in schools and that should be nipped in the bud.

          Conservatives spend time making sure Jesus is taught instead of constitutional things being taught that set the historical record straight about the benefits of small government, benefits of free market, harms of socialism and its incrementalism in the US, etc.

    2. What Ph.D. are you referring to? Legislator Pan? I’m pretty sure that guy doesn’t have a Ph.D. I good many of [medical] doctors do not have a Ph.D. I like to think of MDs, as indispensable and hugely important as they are, more as biological or medical expert QA professionals.

      1. To expound on an early morning truncated thought:

        I like to think of MDs, as indispensable and hugely important as they are, more as biological or medical expert QA professionals rather than scientists, so to say. An individual medical doctor’s disposition as a scientist is merely incidental. The same could be said about any other person and/or professional, honestly.

      2. I’m referring to PhD’s in general. To get a PhD you gotta come up with something new even if it’s in a field with nothing new to come up with. “Do nothing” legislators and legislatures are frowned upon for not coming up with something new even if there’s nothing new that needs coming up with. The more a field of study becomes saturated, the more outlandish the bullshit you gotta come up with to make your mark and the more we become saturated with laws the more outlandish the legislators and the legislation becomes. We’ve already got 40 million laws on everything under the sun, why are we producing more? Because that’s what legislators do, they produce legislation and nevermind if it’s necessary or even desirable legislation.

        1. This whole line of thought around an PhD’s and the price/value relationship of novelty is one I have never really heard or meditated on before. There might be something to this. The one obvious implication would have to be some eventual exploration of Ideas in that vast unmapped continent of Anarcho-Libertaria rather than whatever it is that they are doing now. Because my first thought is – How does the 7 millionth flat earth remapping of Zombie-Manhattan Island from a slightly different angle and at a totally different time of day than the last 6.9 million times”, keep qualifying as even remotely novel if this is actually the case? Please tell me there is an institutional bias in this direction. I may need to start clearing up wall space to hang all those Nobel Prize winning PhD’s I expect to start being preemptively awarded. And, speak of the devil delivering news with impeccably ironic timing, the mail man just showed up, so I probably need to go check on that…

    3. Lets say you’re interested in becoming a Civil War historian – what is there new and original to say on the matter?

      Simple: start a new one.

  10. a philosophically confused hodgepodge of false assertions and blatantly unrealistic aspirations that could be disastrous

    Sheesh, Jacob — tell us what you *really* think!

  11. It never ceases to amaze how quickly supposed libertarians forget that children have no rights and are the property of their parents.

    How could any 21st-Century libertarian believe otherwise?

    1. With children, you basically have to make a choice between property of the parents or property of the state. When the state starts advocating for “childrens’ rights” what it’s really doing is advocating for state power over your children.

      At least when children are property of their parents, any given parent can only screw up his own children.

      1. ^^^^ this. Except that kids are not property by under the care of their parents and the parents have a fiduciary and caregiving duty to the child.

        Plus, if kids are being abused or starved those things are already covered by a breach of fiduciary and caregiving duty like if you were responsible for a elderly relative and abused that duty.

      2. And a lot of what people call “parents screwing up their own children” is actually parents treating their own children more like adults and allowing them to act more like adults.

        Or at least more like “small people who do not yet know very much” as opposed to “pets who can talk

      3. And all the children their non-vaccinated children infect

        1. so what? Kids infect other kids and adults all the time. Clearly getting inoculated for Scarlet Fever, Polio, Mumps, etc is the smart way to go but we should not force people to be inoculated.

          Are we going to bring charges against people for spreading germs as nature intended?

          Fuck off slaver!

        2. Logically, they’d only infect other non-vaccinated people. Vaccinate your own kids and get your nose out of other peoples’ business, slaver.

          People can judge their own interests. There’s little risk in being an anti-vaxxer now, because there’s so much group immunity. If it gets popular enough to have an actual statistical effect, it will only take a handful of dead hipster babies before they start singing a different tune.

          Keep government force out of it.

          1. Of course, if we got rid of government run schools and compulsory education, this wouldn’t be a problem any more.

  12. #CALEXIT get the fuck out!!

    I don’t think the country can survive the stupidity of the damn progressives in California.

    If they want to be legislative idiots, I don’t want that crap coming to the country at large or to my state.

    Let them model Venezuela all they want, just don’t drag us down with them.

    Time to leave, California, your too fucking stupid and dangerous to keep around….

    1. A cynical person might suggest that the San Andreas fault was Providence’s plan for ridding the world of California’s toxic Progressivism…..

      1. C. S. P. Schofield|12.29.16 @ 9:49AM|#|?|filternamelinkcustom

        A cynical person might suggest that the San Andreas fault was Providence’s plan for ridding the world of California’s toxic Progressivism…..

        To which the Cynicallly Obnoxious Geologist will only add that while this may be true it seems Providence moves at a more…Glacial.?. pace than most of will find comforting. Ben Franklin had more to say on this subject. And have you met Suicidy yet?

  13. I honestly never imagined his brother Peter would ever wind up being considered the mature and sensible one.

      1. He plays a hell of a flute though, doesn’t he? *trill*

  14. On a more serious note I am curious where he is going with this. And how consistently does he intend to apply the rights and privileges we associate with adulthood? On the one hand I seem to gather that even 20 to 30 year old college students are considered to still be in a fragile state of arrested development and perpetual adolescence and need to be protected and coddled from things like new ideas and disagreeable words. Which seems unnatural and absurd viewed with the conditions and age when you would be considered an “adult” viewed across the past several thousand generations of human evolution and history. Broadly speaking you were an Adult when you could handle the responsibilities associated with that. More often than not I Imagine that this was less a choice than something thrust upon you far before you wanted it. If you could hack it you might live long enough to pass on your genes and ideas and philosophy on. Needing a safe space when you should have been hunting,gathering,planning ahead and generally doing everything else you need to do if you want to avoid becoming a pile of tiger shit meant your genes would be weeded out pretty fast. In shittier parts of the less developed world it is still this way. I don’t get the impression that he means that if you are 8 or 10 or 12 or 14 and capable you would have any kind right to work or contract or marry or consent in any other thing I would consider to be a right.

  15. You know who else had a grudge against Pan?

    1. Peter?

    2. Captain Hook?

    3. Miley Cyrus?

  16. Maybe this is the start of a radical re-branding campaign for California. CALIFORNIA, the New Somalia of North America!

    1. Its not anarchy. Its MORE state power they want.

  17. Our rights are now being used to create the sense that we’re ‘owed’ something. The right to health care means the government has some duty to supply health care. I have the right to bear arms, that’s never meant that the government had any duty to supply me with arms, it just means the government may no prevent me from obtaining them. Of course, in the last decades our actually enumerated rights have become some special kind of privileges which we must qualify for and which we may be denied. Today an American has more right to force a baker to bake him a cake than to bear arms, our possessions may be taken without even pressing charges, much less conviction of those charges. We’ve traded our rights for privileges, just as we’ve traded a limited federal government for a totalitarian government promising to fill all of our desires.

    1. As hard as this may be for anyone who has grown up in the 21st century to believe, there is, at some point something like a natural law that eventually does place limits on how far things can expand before they snap and collapse. Fatal conceit and the myth of the perfect parasite. There is no such thing as a perfect parasite you see. Not that you would be able to explain this to one if you tried. By their very nature they lack anything close to the kind of intelligence needed for that level of self awareness. To a tick or a tapeworm or liver fluke I imagine a large host like a cow or an elephant must seem like a nothing less than a completely limitless resource. So when you find the kind of politician that can glibly toss around ideas like imposing an 80 or 90% tax on any group and then imagining that this would produce a growing stream of revenue rather than resulting in a rapid onset of illness and death for the afflicted coinciding with their own, then you can be sure you have found the closest analogue we have found in human society. Luckily in nature there are almost always natural controls on parasitic growth and reproduction. Ox-peckers, tick-bids, an army coral reef-ers, poisonous/medicinal plants accidentally and intentionally consumed by the host. And my favorite karmic Fuck-you-from-the-rest-of-the-universe; Those Parasites that parasitize the Parasites.

    2. To advance this as good policy is one thing. To talk about people having a “right” to these is quite another.

  18. Thank God California is going to secede. How do we sign up to help that?

    1. I’ll sacrifice and vote for secession if it ever come up here.

      1. The Caliexit vote in California was nearly even 47% for 51% against. The ratio in the rest of the country? 98.3% for….

  19. Tell these busybodies in legislatures everywhere that it’s okay to just sit on your hands and do nothing! There are more laws on the books telling us what we can and cannot do than at any point in human history. Add to that pile, the unchecked bureaucratic mandates, and we are ‘just one more law’ away from Utopia!

    1. Around here, that is proof of the “Libertarian Moment”, I believe.

  20. Snopes rejects those claims

    I’m always interested in the thoughts of an online granny prostitute

  21. Hopefully raising a family in California will become too much trouble now for most sane parents and its population will crash.

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  23. Yeh, this is gonna end well.

  24. I would like to see California go all-in and declare that all children will henceforth be taken at birth from their families by the state to be reared by the state according to way the state wants to do it.

    1. No more dicking around. Round up the little guttersnipes!

  25. Only in California, or at least one so hopes.

  26. My concern is this word “access”.

    It used to mean that you could get to something. That it was within your power to reach it.

    Now, “access” is a progressive buzzword meaning “free”, or more accurately, “someone else pays for it”.

  27. . . . eliminated “personal belief” exemptions from state . . . requirements . . .

    Good. There should be no ‘personal belief’ exemption. If something needs to be forbidden or mandatory by law then it needs to be so – if you can squeeze an exemption in for *anybody* then it doesn’t need to be a law in the first place.

  28. Like Bill’s wife said: It takes a village. Just ask #6…

  29. And in Ontario Canada they have ham-fistedly removed “mother” and “father” as designations. I swear Ontario and California are in a perpetual “whose dick/debt is bigger” feud.

  30. How about, “Neither the California legislature nor California municipalities shall saddle children (born or yet to be born) with debts or other obligations on which those children are not given a vote.”

    Pan, stick that in your left-eared stethoscope and blow.


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