"And if parents do not have the right to determine how they will look after their baby - then who does have that 'right'? The State? Some arbitrary unelected body? No way!"
I know I said I was leaving the thread, but I don't see what you wrote to be the rhetorical question you seem to think it is, and I am highly disturbed that you seem to have phrased it as such.
Roger, the baby (any baby) has an inherent right to life. The parents (any parents) do have the right to raise their baby in the way they think is best, but only on the condition that this right is not obstructed. This is what I believe, and the basis for my strong view stems from this belief and what I consider a basic responsibility to evaluate any elevated risk as excessive when an infant is so delicate it can't even hold its own head up. Older babies, as I have said over and over to deaf ears, are a different story; but three months is too young.
Curiously enough (in the context of your question at least) the legal systems in most, if not all, developed countries seem to hold the same belief. Parents whose infants die in easily avoidable ways do time in prison. From all that I've tried to see things from your point of view, I honestly can't bring myself to see any jury in the world ruling that "it could happen to anybody" if a parent had let his newborn die of hypothermia from getting caught in a rainstorm above treeline with a baby strapped to his chest.
I'd also like to clear up two things while I have the chance. There is no "story I'm hiding" and I don't want kids to be kept in padded rooms either (as though either of these had any bearing whatsoever on the discussion). If Nick's kid had been 10-11 months old when he was doing the hike, I wouldn't have said a single thing in this thread. If his kid were 18 months old, I probably would have wished him good luck on the hike.
This all-or-nothing type persona many of you have projected onto me has no place in reasoned discussion. There are degrees between basic safety and protective neurosis, and I hope that it's a vocal minority of the total backpacking community here that automatically connects concern for a three month old with "there must be something seriously wrong with that killjoy, I bet he had some tragic past, blah blah blah."
OK, now I'm really leaving the thread.