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I just found this thread on the /r/LegalAdvice subreddit about a concept called “filial responsibility” which basically means that parents and/or their adult children can be held legally responsible for paying medical bills incurred by each other. Apparently 29 states in the USA have filial responsibility laws on the books but I (like many other people) have never heard a thing about them before today.

Filial responsibility is super draconian and scary shit.

Interest in filial responsibility laws have slowly resurfaced after finalization of a Pennsylvania court case where a son was held legally liable for his mother’s $93,000 nursing home bill. Before this case came about, these laws had long since fallen out of any sort of actual enforcement in a similar vein to anti-sodomy or “crime against nature” laws that technically make it a felony to have oral or anal sex with a human. I started digging a bit and found out that these laws could be a nasty time bomb in North Carolina because NC criminal law says that not taking care of your parents if the State decides you should be able to do so is grounds for giving you a criminal record.

That’s right! Don’t pay for your parents’ medical bills? Class 2 misdemeanor, have fun in prison.

I am a firm believer that no person in a free society should ever be held liable for debts (financial or moral) incurred by any other person and that debtors’ prisons should be completely abolished. If you believe the same thing, contact your state government representatives and make sure they know you want these laws stricken from the books.

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