Parental rights is a universal issue. We’ve certainly had our fair share of Nanny State-ism in recent years, including Michelle Obama’s healthy school meals crusades. Over in Britain one families’ plight drives home the chilling consequences of abiding big government intrusiveness. As Time reports:

It almost sounds like the plot of a dystopian novel: a British couple was arrested in Spain and thrown in jail after they took their 5-year-old boy, who has a brain tumor, out of a British state hospital to seek alternative treatment abroad. …

The boy, Ashya King, was diagnosed with a brain tumor in July. After a surgery to remove the tumor at Southampton General Hospital, in southern England, doctors recommended that Ashya undergo chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Ashya’s parents, Brett and Naghmeh King, are Jehovah’s Witnesses who preferred another form of treatment offered in the Czech Republic, and chose to take him there instead. In August they took their son to another hospital in Spain, where they planned to sell property to help pay for the alternative treatment themselves.

Meanwhile, officials from Southampton General Hospital contacted Britain’s Crown Prosecution Services (CPS) and said the boy’s life was in danger without their prescribed course of treatment. CPS issued a European arrest warrant alleging child neglect and cruelty. Spanish police arrested the Kings soon thereafter, while their son remained alone in the hospital.

Only after public outcry and mounting political pressure did CPS relent and drop the arrest warrant. British authorities also acknowledge that Ashya’s parents took all necessary steps to protect his health, and independent medical experts have confirmed that the boy’s condition was not life-threatening as his doctors originally insisted.

The Kings are now out of jail, but they’re still not out of the woods. As Time continues:

Despite the arrest warrant being dropped, Ashya still remains a ward of the British court system and any subsequent decisions about his treatment must be approved by authorities. On Monday, Sept. 8, there will be a hearing in the U.K., where a judge will have the final say in Ashya’s course of treatment, if the Kings and the medical authorities are still in dispute. …But no matter the outcome, it’s hard not to feel that the intervention of the hospital and the state — all in the name of Ashya’s best interests — have worked against him and his parents all along.

Whatever good intentions state officials may have, they do not know best when it comes to the welfare of children. And as the Kings’ ordeal suggests, attempts to impose the preferences of government hurts parents, children, and society as a whole.