Welcome to The Square Inch, a Friday newsletter on Christianity, culture, and all of the many-varied “square inches” of God’s domain. This publication is free for now, but please consider clicking on the link at the bottom to become a paid subscriber to enjoy all my offerings!
I don’t know about you, but I find the migration patterns among American citizens somewhat alarming. Historically, the United States of America has been holistically the “land of the free,” the place where oppressed peoples of the world strive to go. They make ramshackle rafts and boats, they swim rivers, they run to embassy gates seeking asylum. America! There are no cats in America, and the streets are paved with cheese! Well, that was Spielberg’s version in An American Tail. The real-life version is that there are no bullies, thugs, and tyrants terrorizing people under the color of state authority in America. And this was true wherever you decided to settle down and plant roots: from Maine to Hawaii, sea to shining sea.
But now, in the first quarter of the 21st century, it appears that Americans are fleeing jurisdictions within the United States of America. Much has been written about the great exodus taking place from the west coast—this one by David Bahnsen is a favorite of mine—but it is true on the east coast as well, as Florida can testify. But I also don’t need any think pieces on this phenomenon. Here in Montana, wave after wave of California, Oregon, and Washington refugees continues to land. I count quite a few of them friends, some of them very dear friends, but I have to admit that this influx is causing no small amount of social and civic stress here in Big Sky Country.
Property prices are driven through the stratosphere. When somebody can sell a two-bedroom bungalow on the Bay for millions of dollars, they have no problem vastly overpaying for property in Montana. Native Montanans are being driven out of their own cities, Bozeman being a prime example. The traffic here in Billings is markedly more hectic, and I have never in my life seen so many out of state plates on Montana roads. Crime is also on the rise.
If you know me, you know that I am principally pro-immigration as a matter of national policy. Hear me well: I am pro-legal immigration. I want to streamline the process and welcome as many immigrants as reasonably possible. So I suppose that I need to be consistent when it comes to interstate immigration. Sigh. Look: Welcome to Montana. But just as I will insist with foreign immigrants, I will insist here that we expect you, oh Californian, to assimilate to our way of life. If your plan is to flee the Nannies running San Francisco, you’d better not follow that up by insisting we get some Nannies here in Montana.
Now that I have that off my chest, I will tell you what I really feel deep down:
These people are not fleeing gulags, exactly, but I think you will get a distinct whiff of it in what I am about to tell you.
A friend is a recent transplant from the greater Seattle area. He is a single father with primary custody of his son. His son was born with some significant health challenges and so has needed a great deal of medical care.
My friend was surprised to recently receive a text from the State of Washington. It read, in part:
When your child turns 13, under Washington State law, your access to clinical information in their MyChart portal will be removed […]
On or after his 13th birthday, please have [Redacted] call MyChart Support at [Redacted] Option 4. We would need to speak with the patient and obtain his email address or cell phone number so we can send the MyChart invite. Our office hours are Monday to Friday, 8 to 4 pm.
As his parent, you still manage his non-sensitive medical information until he turns 18, so we’ll need you to sign a MyChart authorization form to authorize him to access his medical records via MyChart. As he is not turning 13 until next year, we can send you the form at that time.
Once the two steps above are completed, [Redacted] will have his own account with full access to medical information. Please note the access on your proxy account will continue to be limited.
Did you follow that? Is this true? Is it really the case that in Washington State parents lose full access to their children’s health information at the age of thirteen?
I was pretty skeptical, so I did some research. And I found this helpful legal guide entitled, “When can a minor access health care without parental consent?” The answer to that question under Washington statute is exactly what you would expect: 18 years old.
But let’s see what happens when we pop the hood and take a closer peek at the details, shall we?
There is almost no medical care or procedure that requires parental notification for a child over the age of 13 in Washington State.
You can see for yourself at the link above. There is a helpful drop-down menu that tells you the “exceptions” to the “18 years old” rule. They include:
Emergency medical services
Non-emergency medical services
Sexually transmitted infection testing/treatment
Birth control services
Prenatal care services
Outpatient mental health treatment
Inpatient mental health treatment
Outpatient substance abuse treatment
Inpatient substance abuse treatment
It is hard to find any aspect of medical care they missed. And when everything is an exception to the rule, there is effectively no rule. In almost every single case in the above categories the age of consent is set at thirteen years old. Moreover, in many, if not most of those categories it is not even thirteen. Any doctor can, with the stroke of a pen, deem a patient a “Mature Minor” and proceed without parental consent no matter the age.
I’m having a hard time coming up with words to express how outrageous this is. Washington State will not allow a 17-year, 364-day-old to buy cigarettes, nor a 20-year, 364-day-old to buy a beer. But they are very keen to actively establish an exclusive one-on-one link with every 13 year old, and to offer them access to any and all medical procedures without the knowledge or consent of parents. What procedures do they most have in mind? What are they so eager to offer these adolescents? Here are a couple of things they seem to particularly emphasize:
You can get or refuse birth control services at any age without an authorized adult’s consent RCW 9.02.100(1). Depending on your provider, this might include puberty blockers and/or hormone treatment.
The first sentence just means “abortion.” And then note that second sentence carefully. Here are the “additional notes” under “Gender Care”:
Depending on your provider, you might be able to get puberty blockers and/or hormone treatment at any age without an adult’s consent as part of birth control services.
Also depending on your provider, you might be able to get consultations related to gender identity if you are age 13 or older without an authorized adult’s consent, as part of outpatient mental health treatment. The authorized adult will only be notified if you consent RCW 71.34.530.
Finally, you can talk with your provider about whether they believe you are sufficiently mature to make your own health care decisions, under the Mature Minor doctrine.
I’m just going to tell it like it is: The State of Washington is actively engaged in undermining parental oversight and authority on a scale that can scarcely be believed. Really: find me a procedure that actually requires parental consent and involvement. I don’t think you can. This is all enshrined in law. A parent has zero say about their child’s medical care—not just after the age of 13, but at any age. Some state-approved health care liaison will no doubt be happy to connect your child to a doctor who will say, “Yeah, you look pretty mature to me.”
The State thinks it owns your children. No, it’s worse than that. They’ve codified their ownership of your children and their bodies in law. It is the law that parents are cut off from their children’s health care at age 13. Even worse, this is not a “passive” law, such that if a child seeks medical care then these rules and procedures kick into effect. No: an agent of the State will actively intervene at your child’s 13th birthday, cut you off from their medical care, and establish a private relationship with them to ensure their autonomy from your parental oversight. Nobody finds this creepy? Imagine some white-robed state official showing up to your kid’s 13th birthday party and, by authority of law, kicks you out of the room to have a private tête à tête with your teenager. Welcome to the State of Washington.
And what do these agents of the State want to do with this ownership, authority, and influence? I think they want your kids to keep the abortion mills busy or they want to cut off their breasts or genitals.
Kevin Williamson once ignited a firestorm of controversy when he wrote a scathing essay about “dying towns” like Garbutt, New York. His closing words were held up as the epitome of callousness, but I found them to be a font of wisdom:
What they need isn’t analgesics, literal or political. They need real opportunity, which means they need real change, which means that they need U-Haul.
If you want to live, get out of Garbutt.
So now it’s my turn, but I am not talking about economic opportunity; I am talking about freedom from creepy totalitarians. Leave. Get out. Pronto. Find a U-Haul, if all the other refugees haven’t taken them already.
If you want to stay, you are going to have to speak up boldly and loudly and resist this regime with every resource you’ve got, although just looking at the laws it seems you’re well past the point of no return and that it all happened without anybody noticing. You also need to carefully count the cost. We might not be talking about the gulag just yet, but for anyone with eyes to see this is what gets you there. I wish I was just joking or using hyperbole—you’d better be prepared for the possibility of losing custody of your children.
When the State, not you, has the “best interests” of your child at heart, what do you imagine will happen if you were ever to find yourself at odds with them?
Leave. We’ll take you in.
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Thank you for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!
It's actually one of the wonders of classical liberalism that tyranny in one place can be effectively fled. It's how God sorts and shifts people through diaspora, and how God de-funds tyrants.
Our national borders should be used for keeping governments in, and not for keeping people out. There really is no other workable biblical definition of political sovereignty.
Greetings, Brian. I'm the baseball fan who introduced myself to you after CCL in SF.
I find it fascinating to hear people from other states talking about Californians moving there. As someone from a fifth generation California family, I can understand. For over 150 years, people from the other 49 states and foreign countries have moved to California, driving up the cost of everything far above the rest of the country. As David Bahnsen pointed out in your linked article, people with dreams of opportunity moved here and succeeded.
But we have also been flooded with everybody else's rejects. Beatniks, hippies, druggies, and devotees to every alternative lifestyle imaginable, including every wannabe movie star, rock star and who knows what else. The common admonition for Californians moving to other states is "don't bring your voting habits with you." But if I ever move, I'll be sure to do just that. If I choose Montana, I'm sure you will be fine with that, too. Giants vs Twins this October.