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Essay/Term paper: Planck v. indiana

Essay, term paper, research paper:  History Essays

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Planck v. Indiana

Lance Ito
Essay #1
February 12, 1997

In the reviewing the case of Planck v. Indiana, many complicated issues
arise. Included in those, individual rights conflicting with the public good
are among the most difficult. According to Mr and Mrs. Planck's attorney, John
Price, the Planck's religious beliefs prohibit them from accepting professional
medicine practice, as they practice alternative medicine and home school their
children. After a complaint from an older Planck daughter, who did not embrace
or respect her family's lifestyle, the state was called in to investigate the
health of the Planck children. In a preliminary check by the state of Indiana
for eyesight, Lance Planck was found not to be in need of any service. Despite
this finding, the Madison County Superior Court ordered that all of the Planck's
children's eyes be examined by the state. One month after the Court ordered
this, twenty armed officers with guns drawn came to the Planck's residence and
commanded Mr. and Mrs. Planck to give up their children. Mr. Planck told the
officers that he did not know why they were there, was pushed to the ground and
had loaded rifles pointed at him. The children were then forcibly removed from
their parents custody, and at no time was any identification shown by the
officers. Curt, Lance Planck's younger brother, resisted this removal from his
house, and was threatened by an officer that he would be "dragged out of here."
After this scene, Emily, Stephen, and Curtis Planck were loaded into a van and
driven to an eye doctor in Anderson, Indiana. The examining doctor, Dr. Joseph
Woschitz, came to the conclusion that no treatment was needed for any of the
children. How can the state justify this type of behavior? Is ripping a child
unwillingly from his mother's arms in the best interest of the public good?
What does society have to benefit from this? In short, this does not affect the
public good per se, but does affect the Plancks and any other family that
practices a religion that is not widely accepted.
Following the above events, Mr. and Mrs. Planck were subsequently
arrested, had their First Amendment rights violated, and had their home invaded
by armed SWAT team members who fired a CS tear gas canister into their house.
Simply, Mr. and Mrs. Planck and their children were targeted by the state
selectively because of their religious beliefs which they manifested in home
education and the practice of alternative medicine. The fundamental argument
here is that the Planck's rights have been violated, and the State of Indiana
has overstepped its duty of caring for the Planck's children.
Thomas Jefferson described our fundamental rights as "life, liberty, and
the pursuit of happiness," however, the Planck's exercise of these rights have
been violated by the State of Indiana. The Plancks seem to have been happy
before this fiasco started, but since they state has interfered and then raided
their house with tear gas and pointed a rifle at Mr. Planck, that happiness has
seem to been withdrawn.
The State of Indiana should have the right to look after the children's
health in an emergency, but it needs to be done in a reasonable way that still
respects the Planck's religious beliefs. On the other hand, it is imperative
that the state does not infringe upon the individual's beliefs by intervening
for the sake of the public good. Where is the line that says the family has
exceeded its rights, or that the state has exceeded theirs? There is no line,
and that is why this argument is so difficult.
While the state is responsible for a child's health, education and
welfare, why do we not see the state swarm into a house with a SWAT team that
home-schools their children? If those children do not learn as much as their
counterparts in public schools, is the state justified in ripping them out of
home-school and pushing them into a public school? In a sense, this is what
has happened in the Planck case, however, the end result was the unfortunate
death of their son Lance.
The other side of this argument, that the state is justified in taking
the Planck's children, is also difficult to argue because of the effect it has
on the public good. The outcome of this court case will have repercussions that
will echo to groups, religious and otherwise, that the line between individual
rights and state responsibilities has been redrawn. The State of Indiana's duty
and responsibility is to make sure the welfare, health, and education of its
children is satisfactory. But in doing so, especially in this case, it is
problematic to assume that the Plancks should not be treating their own kids
with alternative medicine. Since no parent would want their own child to die,
the state has stepped in to serve as the care giver to Lance Planck. But when
Mr. and Mrs. Planck decline this care, should the state defy the parent's right
to decide what is best for their child, or should it comply with the parents
wishes of letting Lance continue untreated? The Planck's religion instructs
them that professional medical treatment should not be accepted, and that any
sickness that affects them should be treated by the family, at home. This
involved the public good because while the majority of parents would allow
medical treatment to their children, there is still a small percentage that does
not want it. As a state, and for the public good, we must respect their
beliefs--within reason--so that their rights as Americans, especially the First
Amendment, are not violated. Since the Planck's religion is such that medical
care should not be accepted, when the state steps in to assist Lance, they are
inadvertently violating the Planck's First Amendment rights. Since this case is
still pending in the courts, it will be interesting to see the outcome of its
decision and its effects on us as Americans, and as individuals.


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