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Difficult Questions: When Freedom and Law Collide – Parental Rights and Medical Choices

I’ve decided to start a series on complex questions that are fodder for interesting discussion and debate.  Several issues have arisen lately that raise questions about the role of government and the courts in regulating the behavior of society.  Where the lines are drawn are certainly not cut and dry.  When do our personal rights end and the ability for the government to intervene begin?  No better example of such a blurry line is the case of Daniel Hauser.  Daniel is a 13 year old boy suffering from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  His family believed that alternative medicine and natural therapies were the best course of treatment for their son.  They believed that the recommended treatment of chemotherapy was comparable to poison and therefore refused this medical intervention.


Colleen Hauser and her son Daniel

The state of Minnesota charged the parents with medical neglect.  The judge ruled against the Hauser family citing two instances of medical neglect.

There were two government rulings against the family for failure to follow “their family doctor’s decision” or “instructions from a medical professional.”

This raises some interesting questions, including:

Where do individual rights end and the right of our government or the medical profession begin?  Where do parental rights end and what are the implication of being required to follow specific medical strategies when there are many to choose from? Who should have the right to decide which are the best treatments?  What about the right to avoid the side effects?

I think it’s also important to note that there are laws in Minnesota that state that prohibit parents from relying soley on herbal and alternative treatments if a child’s life is at risk; but is this law overly invasive of personal freedoms or are there sufficient social needs that support it?

Let’s have a debate.  Ignore whether you believe in alternative treatments or herbal remedies.  Focus on the questions about where societies’ needs may supercede individual rights in this case.  There is certainly no evidence that the parents were neglectful in any other area and appear to be loving and caring.

Source article: Minnesota Judge Overrides Parents’ Objections To Son’s Cancer Treatment

Rules – stick to polite, respectful debate with no name-calling.   Violators will only be warned once.  This is a chance to give your debate chops a good workout.

178 Responses

  1. I wonder what would have happened if they just couldn’t afford treatment?

    • That’s an interesting question. Many times people are denied needed treatment for just this reason. How is that balanced against something like this?

      • My oldest cousin was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease when she was 13 (in the mid-1960s). She’d been sick for over a year but it took that long for her to get a good diagnosis (it was actually diagnosed when they did a tonsillectomy and saw the tumors) My mom told us about the cancer when she was driving us home from Peggy’s 13th birthday party.

        Peggy was treated under an experimental program at Stanford University. And I remember her tatoos marking where the radiation was directed.

        She was never well again and at times she was REALLY sick. But she lived to the age of 16 before we lost her.

        20 13 years later her youngest brother (age 18) was also diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease. But, he recognized the symptoms and got the right treatment right away & (without telling his parents) got treatment & cured.

        Hodgkins is totally curable if it’s caught early. And the treatment (at that point) isn’t even that horrible (compared to what comes at the later stages)

        • So sorry to hear about your cousin. What an amazing difference between early and late. I can understand the frustration of authorities here when the disease is caught early and the parents refuse the treatments. They can just see an easy cure vs. the horrible results of not treating it early. So I see their point in this case. But I can see the other side of sometimes the magic medicine man is not correct. What then?

          • yes, what if a mandated treatment causes a disability. Who is liable or responsible then?

          • I guess it’s my family history that makes this story so personally upsetting to me. The boy is so close to the age Peggy was. I’m the oldest kid in my family so Peggy was the closest thing to a big sister I ever had.

          • It is really hard when there are personal stories that resonate.

    • SoD,

      Oh oh. 😉


      Great question.


    • That would be my question, too. I don’t understand how the government can mandate care it refuses to pay for.

      OTOH, my parents and I have diametrically opposed philosophies. I would not want them imposing theirs on me, it makes me wonder how the child feels about all of this and whether their views are his views. Wasn’t their a case once of Christian Science parents who visited doctors when their pain was extreme enough, but who let their child die without medical attention? It’s a difficult issue.

      • Supposedly he believes as his parents do, but I read that he has a learning disability and can’t even read, so besides being a child, he’s even more disadvantaged in making this decision for himself, IMO.

        • I guess the question is whether the government is better equipped to decide for a child than his/her parents. Even if in this instance it might have been the better path, what about this concept in general?

          • It really depends. Even in families where there’s no physical abuse of the child, there can be a hell of a lot of dysfunction. And parents aren’t necessarily the best qualified to make these decisions for a variety of reasons that aren’t immediately obvious to outside observers.

    • That was my thought too. The government can force this family into bankruptcy in pursuit of medical treatment that they do not desire. How pathetic is that?

      Meanwhile millions of Americans go without healthcare because the government providing healthcare would be socialist. Oh the irony.

  2. as far i know i this case the kids life would have been i jeopardy if he had not been given treatment

    • well then the question would be what interest does society have in mandating specific treatment?

    • I thought their premise was that his life would be in jeopardy either way.

      • how would his life been in jeopardy if he gets the treatment

        • The parents felt that chemotherapy was tantamount to injecting poison into their son. There are also significan side effects to such treatments.

        • Chemotherapy is a dangerous treatment but most in the medical profession would say that the potential benefit outweighs the side effects.

          The dangers include opportunistic infections, severe anemia and non-cure or improvement of the cancer, there are more. On top of that, there is nausea, hair loss, mouth sores, flu-like aches and pains + constant needle pokes and scans, x-rays, etc..

          Most parents will put kids through any treatment to try to save them from cancer death. I read an article (years ago) that parents will try anything and frequently kids up for clinical trials in desperation. If I have time, I might look for that article since it is the opposite to what these parents were doing.

          These parents might not be considering that a cancer death is considerably more painful than the treatment as horrible as the treatment is.

          • Chemo also has the very real threat of death by treatment. Many people die from the chemo.

          • Every year it is more and more rare to die directly from chemo when appropriately prescribed and administered. Also can be confusion as to if the cancer was fatal earlier than otherwise due to patient’s frailty and poor condition from chemo side effects.

  3. Who took the case to court in the first place? Was it another family member?

  4. I believe the physicians reported them to social services. This article states:

    “Child protection workers accused Daniel’s parents of medical neglect, and went to court seeking custody.”

    • Hospitals have social workers on staff and they will report non-compliance. We’ve had some issues like that in our state that hit the media.

  5. I think putting your child’s life in danger might be the line over which the state crosses to intervene..

    The child had a very high chance of survival with treatment and very little chance without it.

    What if the parent decided that food was poison for the child. Would it be okay to withdraw that? Yes, the child would die a painful death of starvation, but death by cancer is also painful.

    But Katiebird’s is a good point. I guess if you want to deny your child treatment, just cancel your health insurance, and most likely no one will argue when you say you can’t afford it…..

    • i think in this case the state was justified in their actions

    • But they weren’t NOT going to treat the child at all -the parents were looking to alternative care – I have found in many instances that the alternative approach left me, my husband and our children in a better state of health – with no side effects from medications. I have friends who were told they were going to die from cancer who used alternative methods of healthcare who are no cancer-free and well years after.

      We know that chemo is a poison, depending on the form of cancer the cure rate is very low with chemo.

      I don’t believe the government has any right to interfere with parental care – unless the child there is blatant abuse (no treatment) or if the government is prepared to support the decision. I didn’t see anywhere that the government was prepared to support the decision to treat with chemo or assumed liability if it failed or if the child had a negative reaction.

  6. “I think putting your child’s life in danger might be the line over which the state crosses to intervene..

    The child had a very high chance of survival with treatment and very little chance without it.”

    Who decides where the line of “high chance of survival” versus “very little chance” is? What about two separate choices with a minor difference but one is statistically better? What if a required treatment has a risk, even slight, of death? or disability?

    • SOD would you rather wait & see the kid die

      • My question is whether the parents have the right to make a good faith decision about the medical treatments their child receives and whether making such a good faith decision constitutes neglect.

        • plus I’m not advocating one position over another although I know how I would feel if I were in the Hauser’s position.

        • SOD, you’ve said “good faith decision” several times – can you expand on what that means to you?

          For me, good faith would have to mean a lot more than “good intentions” – it would have to mean studying up on the different options and evaluating some of the issues you’ve been throwing into the mix.

          Of course, as an agnostic, from my point of view, religion should not be in the mix – those old men in those old books didn’t have half our knowledge, technology, or even experience with the same illnesses…. it’s possible that if one of them came to life today and saw how far medicine had come, he’d tell all the non-traditionalists to knock it off!

          That’s not to say that certain herbal medicines won’t someday have an established use – but we’ll know that day, because the medical establishment will have grabbed it and copywrited it and not let it be made into generics for a long time!!!!

    • from what i have herd the kid had a 90% chance of recovery if he gets the treatment .

    • That’s a whole different case than this one. This case is a clear case.

      Here in my neck of the woods, a little girl had a deadly form of cancer. She and parents decided to try treatment for awhile, then withdrew it because it wasn’t working and she wasn’t going to get better. She wanted the few months she had left and she wanted to go to the beach and to play with her friends.

      The court did not intervene and there was no debate that they should.

  7. There may be a larger theater in which to view this too. What do we know about medical treatments over time? Will chemo therapy be seen in other generations as akin to leeches and laudamun? An adult has the right to refuse treatment. I just went through this with a very dear friend whose husband was dying and did die of brain cancer. Toward the end chemo and radiation therapies were prescribed the side effects of which were that he would be totally blind and his kidneys destroyed. He said no.

    The difference is that a child is so heavily influenced by parental guidance at this child’s age, magnified by the fear of death. So how can that child make a truly independent decision for himself. I don’t think we are getting the full story on what the alternatives are; the side effects; the religious issues.

    Then there is the cost. In the last two years of my friend’s life, his medical bills were just a hair short of a million $$$—and he is a vet, former Green Beret—whose service in Vietnam probably brought on his slow death 40 years later. But without the VA assist his medical bills would have been more like 2 million.

    • Jangles, you’ve hit on what I see as the core point. Adults have the right to refuse treatment (at least for now). Where do the rights of a parent and interests of society cross?

    • That sounds like a case where the palliative chemo was discontinued. I would hope that issue would be seen differently by the court, but it is troubling.

      Where is the line here? What we don’t know is if this court would demand palliative care as well and not allow parents to determine when the losing battle was harming the quality of life for a child more than letting them go.

  8. its pretty bad when you have to go 2 other countrys to get an objective media. but unfortunately thats what it looks like it has come down 2

  9. I do know that there are people who have a strong belief in the body’s ability to heal itself naturally. If you’ve read any of Dr. Andrew Weil’s books he speaks of this quite often. In any event, if the premise is that medical intervention can be required, what does that mean for those who wish to avoid anything that is not natural?

    • …and is this “neglect” as ruled by the court?

    • But I think the crux of this is that he is a child. Adults are allowed to turn down chemo – the state doesn’t get involved. My guess is that the state doesn’t see this as their rights vs. parents’ rights – instead, it’s more similar to parents’ rights vs. child’s rights. The state became involved because a child, especially one with mental disabilities as this one has, is not considered to be able to make an informed decision. While a parent could refuse chemo for themselves, they aren’t allowed to refuse it for someone else – and if that someone else isn’t considered able to make an informed decision, the state steps in to protect them.

      Of course, I realize you know this. I think this is an important question, where is the line where the state can step in, but personally, I don’t think an example with a child really helps us draw the line. Because children can’t give informed consent, the state is going to protect them by insisting on whatever remedy has the most evidence behind it for that particular problem.

      The parents’ beliefs spring from an Indian religion they adopted, I believe I read. I don’t believe empirical evidence can be ignored in favor of religion. An adult can make that choice for themselves because they’re the ones who will potentially suffer, but not for a child, IMO. So I think an example with an adult would make it easier for me, personally, to try to figure out where the line is. When a child is involved, for me, there’s no question – they should be given the empirically proven treatment.

      • You are definitely right that the status as “child” is the crux. The question is where is the line and what is the precedent here. How effective must something be to warrant choosing it over another? And how to weigh the considerations of side effects and risks.

        • Perhaps the courts are exactly where this belongs so it could be reviewed “case by case.” In this instance we had a thirteen year old with learning disabilities who basically decided he no longer wanted chemo. His parents, probably troubled by their sons apparent pain and discomfort, discontinued therapy citing religious grounds(it would seem to me it would be difficult to argue you are opposed to something when you already started the treatment and allowed it).

          The charges were dropped following the agreement that treatment would be rendered .

        • I guess I’m not close to being able to answer how effective something must be. At this point, with empirical evidence on the side of traditional medicine, and only some anecdotal evidence on the other side, there’s no question, IMO.

          There’s nothing stopping people who believe as these parents do from making a scientific study of the results of not getting chemo (of course, they’d have to study adults, not children). Until there are actual verified studies of the results of herbal or whatever treatments vs traditional treatments, I don’t think we’re even close to figuring out how effective something must be to choose one over the other.

          As far as I can tell, one side has shown high effectiveness, and the other has shown none. If someday we have data which says that an herbal treatment is 88% effective, and chemo is 89% effective, something like that, then I think we can compare effectiveness.

          I think if alternative medicine people want to fight this fight, they need to run research studies and compile evidence – I just don’t think anecdotal testiments are ever going to hold much sway over scientific/statistical examination.

    • Cancer is natural. Given the philosophy of “natural is the best way,” one would not interfere and would let nature take its course.

      Supplements, tinctures, acupuncture needles — anything that you can’t just pick and eat/drink — are not natural.

      I don’t care where it comes from — I just want to know if and how well it works and what are the side effects.

    • In fact, there are thousands right here in the Metro area who have been treated and healed with macro diets and other alternative approaches

  10. SOD: I like your thoughts on this. I believe that parents do have the right to refuse medical treatment that has major side effects or my cause death. Isn’t that why we sign those medical release forms for our kids when they take us to ER with a bicycle crash?

    What we have not talked about are the religious belief issues. I heard some news reporting on this (altho as usual the press was pretty uninforming beyond a sound bit or two). Apparently, in their religion medical treatment is not a total no-no but they have a mandate to seek healing through the natural bounty provided by God—that is they are to avoid chemicals. But if they have exhausted all of that then medical treatment is not cosidered a violation.

    Here is the other point. I don’t know the back ground and education of these folks. I got a sense from the stories on tv that they were either small town or farm folk. When they learned about chemo and what it is (it is a chemical poison in a simplistic way), perhaps they could just not bring themselves to subject their child to it. But is the best way to handle this situation the courts and law—-should there be a duty for medical professionals to call in social service workers and people of their religious faith to try to intervene in a way that is aimed at resolving the crisis, not putting the parents in jail.

    • Part of their problem may have stemmed from the fact they started him on chemotherapy. It wasn’t until after he felt it made his sick they objected to continuing.

      • I can imagine that seeing your child suffer the after effects of chemotherapy may drive you to seek alternatives. But is that neglect?

        • I believe the charges were dropped after the state forced the issue of treatment. Basically, the charges were made to enforce compliance.

          I do feel for this family. It must be very difficult to see your 13 year old suffering the effects of chemo and not wish to take the pain away in some other manner. In this manner the court made it somewhat easier for them. They took the choice away. I do wonder if the courts would have ruled the same had they not started chemo to begin with due to religious reasons? It certainly makes it harder to object on the grounds of religion when you already allowed the treatment at one time.

        • But eventually the cancer would have grown too much, and he would have been suffering from the cancer itself. There are drugs you can take to minimize the effects of chemo – but once you’ve turned down chemo and not effectively treated the cancer, the chances are much smaller that traditional medicine can cure the problem. So what would they do once their child was suffering from the cancer itself?

          So, I guess to me, it could fall under neglect because they were potentially thinking only short term – avoid the chemo and its effects, but then force their child to fall sick and suffer the effects of the cancer itself. Plus I’m not convinced these parents made a very informed decision – listening to them in interviews, I didn’t feel confident they were looking at the big picture, either in terms of medical information, or the eventual suffering of their child without treatment…..

        • In order for this to go to court, charges needed to be brought forward. Otherwise the child would have gone without treatment.

  11. I guess I don’t see this as such a difficult decision. My understanding is that this is a very treatable type of cancer. I do not think that the parents have the right to decide that the child will not get the treatment. Christian Science parents are generally required to treat their children.

    Courts make findings of fact all the time, for them to find that it is ‘child abuse’ not to treat a treatable form of cancer is not a problem for me.

    Children not receiving adequate medial treatment is the real problem in America, this seems to me to be a CNN story.

    • When something is “treatable” does that mean that a parent is required to seek the most statistically effective treatment?

      • I am the mother of three, I guard my parental rights. I do not see this as a case where there is any doubt. It is missing the forest (real parental right issues), because of the trees (CNN telling us this is an issue.)

        No one is stopping parents from giving their kids chocolate cake for breakfast, this treatment means the kid will live. I think the doctors that were treating him were so concerned that they made the case happen. I am glad ( and not at all troubled that they did).

  12. Susanne Sommers was a well-known case where someone chose natural therapies to combat breast cancer and was successful. So if a treatment has demonstrated potential success and another a more successful outcome, should the government have the right to dictate which one a parent chose for their child?

    • Sommers was an adult. Big difference.

      And it doesn’t sound like this is a case of an equally successful treatment being refused. If a parent can’t put the needs of their child over their religious taboos, then yes the government has a right to see to the needs of the child. Should we allow FGM on young girls just because of “religious tradition”?

      • That’s a good point but what if the belief was not tied to “religion” but part of a belief in the body’s natural ability to heal?

        • Andrew Weil does not advocate natural remedies for cancer….except to augment the chemo. In fact, he recommends NOT taking antioxidants during chemo, because he thinks it may limit the effect of the chemo.

          • I didn’t say he advocated I was just mentioning that his books have numerous references to the concept.

        • Why should the ‘reason’ matter??

    • Also the “cancer” occurred suddenly after she was found at a plastic surgeon’s office. The diet book writer was being accused of having tummy tucks and breast augmentation.

      She may have never had cancer in the first place.

    • Cancers can go into remission with or without therapies of any kind, so simply pointing to one person’s success with any therapy, unfortunately, proves nothing. That’s why evidence-based science is so important. Alternative therapies are increasingly being studied using evidence-based science–it’s one of the reasons why the medical establishment has come to accept acupuncture for treating certain conditions. I’m all for complementary therapies, and even alternative therapies, where Western medicine doesn’t offer a cure. But in this case, chemotherapy does have offer a high survival rate, whereas not undergoing chemo does not. So yes, I do think that the government has a right to intervene in the child’s interest in this case.

    • Sometimes cancer completely vanishes of its own accord without treatment. But it’s not that common. And it’s not like this is a tossup with both options more or less equally statistically likely to succeed. Getting the treatment is more likely to keep the child alive and spare him the most suffering possible by a huge margin. If that’s what e wants (and I bet it is), then it’s hard to see how getting treated is not is his best interests.

    • We do not know if the “natural” therapies actually worked. There are many different kinds of breast cancer and each has varying prognoses and natural course. A certain % of carcinomas are extremely slow-growing and indolent, a certain % of patients will go into remission, and a certain % will have continuing disease. Now if we only knew in advance….

  13. Do any of you sometimes feel that some doctors are arrogant assholes who think they are God and know it all even though they screw up and leave sponges in your body parts and write up the wrong prescription.

    I just do not think that government should make the medical profession God and pretend they are serving the best interests of the child. Sometimes families just need time, understanding and support to make the right decision. The law should do everything it can to make sure those supports are in place before it gets trigger happy.

  14. Sometimes people try to equate this with the issue of “required” vaccines, yet parents are legally permitted to waive the vaccines. For me, the vaccine issue is more relevant to a society’s needs since the diseases are generally communicable.

  15. These laws are in place to protect children. And, yes, I’d rather have the laws in place than not. Withholding critical medical treatment is akin to child abuse as far as I’m concerned. And I’m not too keen on child abuse, no matter how many religious reasons you wrap it up in.

  16. These parents are accused of medical neglect—so how do they wind up in the doctor’s office in the first place? If they were neglectful, wouldn’t they be at home on the farm? I understand they had plans to seek alternative treatment at a clinic in MX. Some of those are bogus but here in CA a huge # of Californios go south for medical treatment, meds and vision and dental because at least they can afford it and most people feel they are treated very well.

    • That’s a good point. They sought the diagnosis and medical advice and then selected the alternative medicines as their treatment.

      It’s hard to separate the issue from the thorny fact of cancer but what about other conditions and treatment options? What about treatments that are still untested but hold promise?

      • How does one know there is real promise without testing? Promises, promises. (sorry, /s)

  17. That whole thing about “child abuse” and “child neglect” is not reassuring to me. I even think that in the case of medical treatment that it is a misuse of those terms—they should be reserved for intentional infliction of abuse and neglect—not someone’s confusion and fear about what to do or not do to save one’s child. The Hauser’s do not strike me as abusers or religious nuts or fanatics. They may have been wrong in their judgement but I think it is wrong to label them with the abuse and neglect yellow star.

    To me it is this heavy handed government approach that is the most disturbing and in my view, anti-child.

    • I feel the same way. I do believe they dropped the charges. The charges were created solely for the purpose of forcing them to get their child treatment.

    • I’m pretty sure that there was a woman here who was charged with murder because she failed to give her child his or her medicines and the child died. If not murder, manslaughter.

      • Interesting. I guess the question would be why she didn’t give the meds. Was she just lazy, forgetful, or not concerned? or did she have some other objection.

        I wonder about this issue compared to the vaccine issue. If a vaccine can save (or has empirical evidence to demonstrate) a child’s life, why are parent’s allowed to waive them yet not waive chemo?

        • One of the reasons may be that there was a discussion on whether or not there were adverse effects as a result of vaccination.

          My third child died of SIDS days after his 2 month appointment following his vaccination(My brother in laws first child also died of SIDS so there is a liklihood there is something genetic at play). When my 4th and fifth were born I actually asked to wait to vaccinate them. I did so because I believed that the vaccination may have inflamed my sons airway and that it was possible he was already predisposed to apnea. Medical decisions aren’t always cut and dried.

      • The implication was that she was deliberately trying to kill the child, but who knows. But that’s another issue, I guess–does it make a difference if a parent actively wants the child to die due to a belief that they’d be better off in heaven, or out of malice, or what?

      • Oh I found it, it was reckless endangerment, not murder.


        The medicine was supposed to keep the cancer in remission, a bunch of chemo appointments were missed and pecriptions weren’t filled, the kid’s cancer came back and he died. They don’t speculate on motive.

  18. Very interesting issue. This case does seem a bit easier in that the prescribed treatment has such a good record at that early stage, and the results are so horrible if not treated early. So in this case it’s a bit more clear. But that still doesn’t mean the state should own your children. So even in this more clear case, it’s very scary.

    I think where it’s more interesting is when money is involved. If you can’t pay, do you go to the poor house and your children to the orphanage? Seems like that’s where we are with some cases. And how long before this isn’t just about children but is also about adults. It isn’t that really such a big leap. So it’s very scary and we have to tread carefully.

    I would like to see some serious checks and balances in such cases, and see them not ruled so easily. There should have to be many many hoops to jump through before such a drastic stripping of rights can be allowed to happen.

    • No the state does not “own” the children. But neither does the parent. Children are not slaves. No one owns them. Parents are first in line to be entrusted with the child’s care. When the parents do not uphold their responsibility then the state must step in.

      • I think the level of proof should be extremely high to take someone’s kids away from them. Say at the same level as convicting someone of murder. It’s that serious. And I don’t trust bureaucrats as far as I can throw them. But then I’m a pirate aren’t I.

        • In this instance I don’t think they were seeking removal. They basically wanted to ensure the child continued to receive chemo.

          • I think in this case they could have met a pretty heavy burden because it’s a bit clearer given how good the chances at this early stage and how dire if left longer. I’m just chiming in that in general a heavy burden should have to be met. I think for the most part the laws make it a bit too easy to take kids.

      • Where does religion fit into your lineup? Parents are allowed to neglect their children’s mainsteam medical expectations if they belong to religious sects that oppose physicians and medicine.

    • I remember when that poor woman whose 12 year old died from the infected tooth was in the news. If I remember correctly she was charged with medical neglect as well. It wasn’t until later the charges were dropped.

      I’ll say it again, it seems pretty sick that you can be charged with medical neglect as a parent but we have a government that seems pretty apathetic to the fact that not all parents have adequate resources to provide the care it is “mandating.”

      I do think in this case that the court acted in the interest of the child(who had an appointed ad lightum I believe) but I do think there is a fine line. What if this child had been a normal and healthy 13 year old, rather than one with learning disabilities? I mean we do sometimes charge children as adults in instances of criminal behavior so when would it be acceptable for a child to say no to treatment?

      • I’ll say it again, it seems pretty sick that you can be charged with medical neglect as a parent but we have a government that seems pretty apathetic to the fact that not all parents have adequate resources to provide the care it is “mandating.”

        Yes, our gov’t seems to have no problem with unfunded mandates.

        • SoD,

          Perhaps they should do the same with inmates. If they cannot afford to be incarcerated, they are denied punishment.

          Apparently, two tier applications are matters of convenience.


  19. It is really interesting to see here how we can divide up on the different sides of this issue even though we are all of a certain cast of mind in other ways.

    I think these discussions are really significant as we think about a universal health care system with perhaps a government plan option. We are going to be struggling with just these questions—-and the reverse side of the coin—what about when the government decides there should be no further medical treatment, or none is likely to be effective? Then where do government and parental rights collide.

    • That’s an important question and something to consider. There is even a law in TX that allows providers to deny treatments for anyone, including children, on the basis of their determination of effectiveness. Some say it’s based more on ability to pay.

      • No, if it’s providers except from prescribing/administering therapy — as opposed to insurance companies covering therapy — I think it’s based on medical philosophy. This concept comes up frequently in ethics classes in cases where the patient or relatives are demanding treatment which the provider feels has no significant chance of being helpful. Usually this is when the patient is critically ill or has a terminal disease, and well-intentioned but medically unaware relatives are requesting ineffective treatments.

        Another example: I’ve had patients with a well-controlled chronic disease demand stem-cell transplant treatment — which is very risky — in cases where it was unlikely to help them.

        Usually explaining your rationale for why you’re not going to prescribe a treatment works. But some people just want action, and are too stressed to understand that unhelpful action is not a great idea.

  20. Texas thinks of everything!

  21. If Suzanne Somers had cancer…here’s the treatment she claimed…

    She did have a lumpectomy. She had a sentinel node biopsy and no cancer was found in her lymph nodes, which means if it was cancer, she likely didn’t need chemo.

    And Dr. Weil is actually quoted in the article below as saying that he doesn’t recommend the “treatment” she pursued, other than as adjuvant.


    • As I noted, I mentioned Weil only for the fact that the concept is noted often in his books, not that he advocates in all cases.

      The example of Sommers was to point to the fact that not all people who believe in natural remedies do so for religious reasons.

      • and to be clear, I’m not advocating natural remedies. This question could apply to any life-threatening condition with multiple treatment options. That’s why I stated in the post to try and avoid the pros and cons of alternative treatment. I know it’s not easy in this case however.

        • Was hers legitimately “natural”? I thought hers was bioidentical hormones….doesn’t sound natural to me.

    • She also had radiation. Just not chemo.


  22. There was a local man here that lost his job, was diagnosed with cancer and could not afford the chemotherapy. He was interviewed in the paper and said he was just “waiting to die.”

    SCHIP is not necessarily all inclusive. Can or would the state intervene to pay for something a parent could not afford under the same circumstance?

  23. Do you think the hospital/doctors/medical providers would have pursued this if the parents did NOT have insurance?

    It reminds me of the Terri Schiavo case. Do you think that there would have been a ruckus if the Shiavo’s had no insurance or means to pay for her life support? They probably would’ve required them to pull the plug the first year. (she was on life support for 15 years)

    • Did she have insurance? I thought she was a ward of the state for most of those years.

      • she had insurance plus a medical malpractice award of close to a million dollars to pay for her care. If you remember, the parents were trying to argue that her husband wanted to pull the plug to salvage the money as the funds dwindled.

  24. Warning. Hey moderators.

    Keep an eye on the earlier post “Fighting the Hate”. It has been linked to at DU. The bullies will likely arrive soon – if they are not already here.

  25. Maybe my opinion on this is influenced by the fact that I’m Canadian, and so the question of cost is not an issue.

    But HELL YES parents like this should be charged with child abuse or neglect. This is the problem I have with modern America. The combination of post-modernism and anti-intellectualism has totally gutted the question of EXPERTISE. A child may have your DNA. You may be legally responsible for it. You may love it more than anything, and you may want what’s best for it. But you do not automatically KNOW what’s best for it. Being a parent does not automatically confer any expertise except in the subjective arena of knowing how your family works.

    There are people out there who are experts in how the body works and how it heals itself and how to deal with illness. Those people are DOCTORS. They have years of training and expertise, and all of their decisions are based on evidence. An adult has every right to make their own medical decisions, even if those decisions are stupid. That’s because they’re adults. But kids are not able to consent. And the question is not who OWNS the kid, the question is who is best able to care for the kid.

    When it comes to pep talks and love and day to day care and teaching someone about living in the world, this is quite often the parents. But when it comes to illness and injury, they are not equipped to do much beyond bring soup and cough syrup.

    If the story were that the parents encountered their kid with a broken leg, and they decided that they knew how this stuff worked well enough to set the bone themselves, we’d be rightly APPALLED. And yet, when it comes to stuff like this we talk about Options. But there are options with a broken leg, too. You can pray over it, or leave it, or cut the damn thing off. And you get charged with abuse/neglect for any of those things. Because the only SANE option is to cede your lack of expertise and hand them over to the person who can help.

    I’ll accept the idea of alternative treatment in the absence of western medicine as soon as there is any convincing evidence that that stuff is as effective. That’s when I’ll accept it as a viable OPTION. Until then, that’s placing your dogma over the physical safety of your child, and that is unconscionable.

    Informed consent is a joke. It has to exist for important ethical reasons, but let us not kid ourselves. Compared with a doctor, we know jack shit about our healthcare options.

    • You raise some good points. But I’m not sure I can go with the concept that we are not capable of making the right health decisions when they conflict with a doctor’s recommendation.

      A surgeon once said to me that they never let skin get between them and a medical condition, yet I rejected their advice of surgery and sought a non-surgical route for my condition. I was completely healed. Now I understand that this was not a life and death situation and maybe that’s the line.

      BTW, I’m really loving the discussion. Thank you all!

      • I think that there’s a difference there. My husband has RSI in his wrists. He could get surgery, or make lifestyle changes, or do physiotherapy, or just live with pain, or any combination of these factors. Were he my kid, I’d probably choose to try non-surgical options first. Because they’re less intrusive. But that is based on the fact that I’m not risking permanently crippling or killing him by choosing a less aggressive option. And that decision would be made in collaboration with at least one doctor, not in spite of the doctor’s best recommendation on the basis that he’s my kid, and I know what’s best.

      • Well, a surgeon! What do you expect? Even other physicians joke about scalpel-happy surgeons. When your only tool is a scalpel, everything looks like an operation. Though I do know very good surgeons who are not scalpel-happy, I hasten to say.

        But checking with a 2nd physician, such as a physical medicine doctor — a rehab med physician or physiatrist (not psychiatrist) is always a great idea.

    • The broken leg is a good example. I agree with what you say.

    • Part of the problem may stem from the fact that even “experts” make mistakes and don’t have all the answers. A doctor may go to school for years but still be unable to explain why certain people are predisposed to certain diseases and why one person may do well on one treatment while another does not respond at all. There is alot of medicine that is gray area. It isn’t always cut and dried.

      If this child had been a 16 year old of average intellect with a disease with a less optimistic survival rate would it still have been okay for a doctor to impose a treatment? We call a sixteen year old a child but have charged children as adults at this age? At what point do we allow people to make informed decisions regarding their medical care?

      • There are states that allow 13 year old girls get an abortion without parental consent with no provisos for learning disabled.

        How does that factor into such a discussion where a child is given the right to make their own medical decision(s) such as Daniel did?

        • I think that at the end of the day the courts decided in the best interest of Daniel. The argument of religious grounds seemed tenuous at best when the family already had allowed the first round of chemo to occur.

          That being said I do find this troubling because we do have laws that disallow specific treatments(such as partial birth) and we do have a portion of the population hellbent on denying medical options to people such as birth control. The government makes these decisions and then families are left to take responsibility for the results of those decisions. Like I said, in this instance it is fairly likely that thanks to the government this boy and his family(and I do believe they love him) will have a happily ever after. I do not believe that may always be the case.

          • You’ve definitely hit on what I see as a critical point. Notwithstanding the specific nature of the case, the overall general precedent is what I find questionable.

          • I would argue that the GENERAL precedent set is that legislation should be secondary to medical expertise. As such, if a doctor thinks that an abortion procedure is safe or called for, it should be allowed, regardless of what lawmakers think. Similarly, the conscience clause is a joke because that’s placing an individual’s personal comfort above the medical needs of the individual.

          • I don’t agree, the finding and determination was based on the law. The medical community was cited as evidence in this case.

            What if this case had been a pregnant woman who was 26 weeks along with a fetus diagnosed with hydroencephalitis? Would/Could the courts compel a woman to continue her pregnancy? What if you went to a doctor who was or is able to argue you should be compelled to continue based on his belief system that the fetus is a child(completely allowable due to the conscience clause)?

            I agreed with this particular judge in this particular instance but I find myself uncomfortable with the government inserting itself into medical decisions. Particularly when we have lawmakers and an executive branch that seems determined to insert itself into reproductive choices.

          • cwaltz, I can absolutely understand your discomfort on those issues. Hell, I’m not even going to pretend to know anything about the legality at issue here. I’m all for 13 year old girls getting abortions without parental notification, and for pharmacists having to shut the hell up and dispense what’s prescribed. I don’t know what precedent supports that. But I’m unwilling to just watch parents deny needed care to their kids for the sake of setting the right precedents.

      • Experts may make mistakes, and some questions are not yet answered. Sure there’s grey area. But a doctor is better equipped to navigate that grey area than someone with less medical training. It’s a nuanced topic, and someone only familiar with the broad outlines is going to be missing a lot of valuable information in the decision-making process.

        Personal input into a medical process is a sliding scale, not a binary switch. A small child, someone unconscious, or high, is probably incapable of participating much in the decision-making process beyond “Banana or Grape flavored medicine?” Someone a bit older, a bit more with it, can contribute more- can take responsibility for carrying and using an inhaler, say. They can understand most of their condition. An adolescent who is capable of foresight and choosing in their own best interests can basically make the decision under medical advisement, ideally with a lot of conversation about the implications, unless there’s pressure being brought to bear to cloud the situation. And adult can make their own decision, with the help of a medical recommendation. A doctor will consult with his peers and decide entirely for himself.

        • If that were entirely true we wouldn’t need second opinions. Generally speaking, the hard and fast rule is when in doubt to follow through with that second opinion. We wouldn’t need to do that if doctors weren’t fallible like the rest of us.

          I also think that a parent might also better be able to make determination when it comes to quality of life issues. Parents deal with the day to day stuff. In this particular instance this young man had a 90% chance of recovery with treatment. What if the recovery rate was 60%? At what rate do we say the parents/child may be better able to determine what is in the best interest based on quality of life? Should then doctors get to decide that any probability is better than no probability when dealing with a child?

          • It’s possible that a well-informed parent might be able to gauge quality of life issues better than a doctor. Ideally they’d make that decision after serious research about people living with the condition.

            But I don’t understand this line in the sand stuff. My basic assumption is that if a doctor believes that a parent is making medical decisions for their child that are tantamount to abuse or neglect that they should get the authorities involved to force treatment. Every such case would go before a judge. In other words, I’m arguing for a strict enforcement of the current system. That 60% versus 90% shit? That’s something to be determined on a case by case basis based on the medical evidence presented. Is that really so difficult?

          • Considering our system, I’d say it’s optimistic to assume that doctors are always going to be like treat treat treat, let’s go to the ends of the Earth and do all we can while families are like, no, we’re good thanks. In my experience it’s way more likely to be the hospitals forced by insurance companies into saying screw it, it’s too expensive, we’re cutting you off even though this treatment would probably work while families beg for care. The possibility that we’re going to have widespread care forced on us against our will seems remote.

    • Compared with a doctor, we know jack shit about our healthcare options.
      That’s a bit of an extreme view. There are lots of stunning stupid people with MDs and there are a lot of smart people without MDs. Same goes for PhDs. And there are some really horrible bullies in positions of power in bureaucracies that relish the idea of destroying a family. Of course there are many more that are not at all like this and would do anything to help their clients/patents the best way possible.

      The bottom line is, just like the fact that someone is our President doesn’t mean they’re a king and can do anything, a physician is not all knowing and can make mistakes, be incompetent, be a bigot, etc. and so should not have powers over us. We have rights has human beings to seek out healthcare options that make sense. And mere mortals that don’t have MDs can learn about healthcare options just like anyone else. Only a few years ago the options were leaches. Today it might seem like magic, but it’s not really that complex.

      • I’m not saying there aren’t any stupid or immoral doctors. I’m not saying there aren’t smart non-doctors. But there Are complete idiots in any given field who know ten times what I do about that subject. I’m very smart. It doesn’t change the fact that I don’t know dick about the American Civil War. Or Chemical Engineering. Or how to operate industrial machinery. Or how to prepare quail. Or what ducks nest where. Or how to quickly and safely groom a chinchilla.

        What I’m saying is that unless you have spent several years studying medicine, you have less Expertise. If you’re dubious that your doctor has your best interests at heart, find one you trust and get a second opinion (I know the health care situation in this country does not always allow this). But I think it’s ridiculous to assume that you can spend an afternoon on Web MD and think you know better than a medical professional.

        I’m getting a doctorate degree in clinical psych. Psychology is a soft science, but I find myself relatively sure that nobody can spend their spare time looking stuff up and come up with a comparable level of expertise that I will have on my dissertation topic (which I will have spent upwards of two years preparing). I’m not saying you have no knowledge, or that the knowledge you have is worthless.

        For instance, medicine and psychology both make initial diagnoses on the basis of self-report of symptoms. You’re the expert on what you have been feeling and thinking and doing. You know your symptoms better than anybody. But that is not enough. It has to be paired with a detailed knowledge of the implications of those symptoms, and of the underlying systems. Expertise matters.

        • I think you may be simplifying this. This particular case was pretty cut and dry. They started a treatment. Got cold feet when the child started experiencing adverse effects. His survival probability was 90% with treatment and about 5% without with diminishing results the longer he waited to complete treatment.

          What if this was a child who had a 60 or 70% survival rate and it would diminish their quality of life significantly to undergo treatment? Quality of life is not something a doctor deals with but is something a family would need to grapple with.

          • If quality of life isn’t a doctor’s concern, then that’s a shitty doctor.

          • Believe it or not in a day and age where doctors are reduced to fitting patients into 20 minute time blocks, it would be unsurprising to me that a doctor might not be shitty and still not have a good grasp of quality of life for a patient.

            My next door neighbor almost died from hypoglycemia following her discharge when diagnosed as a diabetic. They sent her home with a new monitor that she didn’t understand how to use and they gave her an insulin pen she was unable to utilize on her own(she has rhuematoid arthritis). Do I think her doctor was a “shitty” doctor? No. I think she(my neighbor) was not agressive enough in participating in her care and he wasn’t agressive enough in ensuring that she was able to care for herself following her discharge. Luckily, she had a neighbor who recognized she was struggling and checked up on her vigilantly(despite the fact that I had little to no experience with the treatment of diabetes). I was able to bring it to the attention to the nursing staff that part of the reason for her return is because she was having difficulting with the equipment and understanding the concept of carb counting.

            I do believe most doctors are well meaning. I also believe they are fallible. What may appear clear cut in the short amount of time they get to listen to the subjective, observe the objective and assess the situation to come up with a plan isn’t always really clear cut.

        • Big congrats!! Sandra S. by the way. That’s way cool.

          I agree that experts matter. Both in terms of helping people make decisions related to their fields but as legal witnesses. And of course experts are used on both sides of arguments in legal situations. As with many fields, there can be a wide range of opinions from experts on any given topic.

          But at the end of the day, the big ticket issue here is intervening in a family and possibly taking custody. All I’m saying is there should be a really heavy burden required before making such a life altering decision. Tearing families apart is not a small thing, and sometimes destroys the lives involved. Which is why I said the burden of proof should not be unlike proof required for murder cases. That heavy. In many cases that can be met. When it’s gray, with reasonable experts on both sides of the argument, then we should side with the family.

          My philosophy here is like Jefferson’s in that I’d rather not see the state make a mistake and ruin the lives of a family, so I’m willing to make it so hard that maybe a 1000 guilty people go free instead of that one innocent person convicted. When it’s easy, then the state wins. When it’s hard or gray area, we just can’t let the state be so heavy handed as to impose itself.

          • In a case like this, the 1000 guilty people going free is going to be 1000 parents damaging or killing their kids. I’d really rather see a lot of innocent families broken up, especially since these families are not necessarily being PERMANENTLY broken up. If the kid dies needlessly, that’s a bit more permanent.

            Breaking up a family is sad and infuriating, but I would not suggest that it is tantamount to murder. Denying your child medical care because you believe in a vindictive God, is to my mind about as tantamount to murder as drowning them in a bathtub.

          • If it’s clear and provable that they are damaging and killing their kids, then no problem, we take the kids. If it’s gray area and not clear and we have opposing opinions from experts, then we don’t. That’s the 1000 I meant. When we’re not absolutely certain. Just like with a murder case.

          • But a lot of times it’s not clear until we already have a dead child on our hands, and when we try to intervene before that at that point it’s a grey area. That’s the problem. I understand where you’re coming from with being pro family, but a lot of times lives are ruined by staying in unhealthy situations too. Putting all this burden on the state and letting 1000 people go free brings them back into the family to inflict more harm on the kids.

          • I’m mostly arguing a philosophy as a guide. I agree that there are a lot of complexities that need to be taken into account. And I agree with Sandra that an intervention can be a temporary thing. So think of my [medical] pirate code as more of a set of guidelines. 🙂

            But those guidelines are important. To me it’s the very foundation of our legal system. Err on the side of the accused and on preserving civil liberties, etc.

    • Sandra, what you said.

  26. OMG, you guys are the best. I have been sooo busy.

    • Hi RD. Take a load off, grab a glass of whatever is open and pull up a chair.

      • {{Sipping bourbon}}
        Actually, I do have something to add to this discussion. As a child of a Jehovah’s Witness, my mother would have refused me a blood transfusion if I had really needed it. I know for sure that I didn’t have a rubella shot because of some blood issue.
        IMHO, in matters of life and death, the child needs the protection of an objective third party. My mom would have spazzed out that I wouldn’t reach paradise. But then, what kind of paradise would it be if I had to spend eternity with a bunch of Jehovah’s Witnesses?

        • LOL

        • The religious component is definitely an important part of the discussion, but does it matter if the reason is religion or just a matter of strong belief otherwise?

          And it’s hard to separate the cancer/alternative treatment specifics from the question but where is the line drawn? How much should the gov’t be allowed to intrude on a parent’s decisions about their child’s medical treatment?

          • You know my opinion of this, SOD. If Indian herbal medicine were sufficient, I’d be all in favor. But the body is agnostic when it comes to medicine. It sees all medicinal substances as poison, There isn’t a problem with herbal remedies except for 2 things: they frequently aren’t very potent and they may cause harmful side effects. Pharmaceutical science can “enhance” nature by making active ingredients more potent and by ameliorating harmful effects (it is impossible to remove them entirely). What seems to be “natural” and organic may not be powerful enough to cure the cancer. Modern medicinal chemistry can take nattual products and turn them into very effective agents.
            So, IMHO, the state should make a concerted effort to convince the parents of the efficacy of the chemotherapy agents even though toxicity is a well known side effect. If the parents refuse, an objective third party should be appointed to see to the best interests of the child. Some cancers are easily cured or put into remission. In these cases, the benefits would seem to outweigh the risks.

          • I agree with much of what you’re saying but what troubles me is the overall precedent. Taking the specifics from the case out of the argument (cancer and chemo versus natural remedies) what about treatment options where one option is sometimes effective and the other is effective more than 50% of the time. Does that effectiveness level become the overriding factor? or can a parent make a good faith decision to go with a less effective option?

          • I dunno, SOD. If your child were dying of cancer, would you choose he less effective option? If so, for what reason?
            It seems to me that the Hauser’s are responding to the side effects of chemo, which are unusually harsh. But Daniel’s cancer is of a type that is almost always curable. So, even though the treatment is very, very unpleasant, it is of a short duration compared to living to a ripe old age,
            If I were the judge, I’d be puzzled as to why the Hauser’s aren’t taking extreme measures with regards to Daniel’s illiteracy, which is likely to have a much greater impact on his quality of life than several months of chemotherapy.
            In short, the Hauser’s have their priorities wrong. The judge absolutely made the right decision. Daniel’s cancer is responsive to treatment. Why drag the misery out further than necessary? Just take the best option with the proven track record and stay near enough with the barf bucket to provide aid and comfort.
            These parents are not thinking straight.

          • You make excellent points.

        • RD,

          I am the child of a child of a Jehovah’s Witness and the witnessing ended with my grandfather. My mother also ended up with post-graduate training in the medical field.

          This said, my grandfather was a wonderful, loving man. In his family, there was no such thing as a gender division of labor, there were only tasks that needed to be done. Furthermore, though I am a pagan, I love the non-classist behavior of the JWs I’ve met. They seem to care more about who you are than what you have. They sure beat the hell out of the Sunday Christians.

          happy trails.


          • Oh, for sure, Witnesses were in the avant garde when it comes to race relations. Absolutely no doubt about it.
            But they’re still witnesses. You grew up a generation removed. Consider yourself lucky.

          • RD,

            I do. In some instances, my mother was raised in the church, literally. They lived there.

          • All Witness children feel like they lived in the Kingdom Hall, whether they actually resided there or not.
            There are a lot of very nice witnesses. They seem kind and polite. Nut I have to tell you that they will *alway* put The Truth first, if they are good witnesses. That means they will shun their families if they are commanded to by their elders. They will refuse blood even if they are dying for lack of a transfusion. They turn each other in for the slightest infraction.
            Please, don’t try to sugar-coat it. He might be a nice grandfather but I can tell you from personal experience, all of the things that JW’s are accused of are absolutely true. Their only redeeming feature is their committment to racial equality. That seems to be the only thing they are sincere about. I believe a JW would easily sacrifice their lives for that cause. Other than that, they’re bat-shit crazy.
            I should know. My mother converted half her family before she came to her senses. Now that she’s out, that half of the family has disowned her.

          • RD,

            Witnessing passed on with him. Isn’t it funny that we share a history with “true believers” and we appear to have acquired a degree of immunity to messianic-based conversion.


          • I’d like to think it was surprising but I think it’s essential. There are an awful lot of refugees from fundamentalist religions in our slice of the progressive blogosphere. There’s me, myiq, sm77, taggles, you. I thinkt it is a feature, not a bug.
            There is something we can learn from this and pass on to others. But is will have to be passive immunity for them instead of acquired immunity. It will require booster shots.

  27. You know lorac and sandra, if the problem with the uninsured continues to escalate, we may see more and more incidences of the example you cited with fixing a broken appendage. Some emergency rooms are turning people away as government subsidies are eroded. What happens when people stop going to emergency rooms?

    It’s going to be a real conundrum. People are paying for medical care with credit cards and those credit cards are being cancelled.

    • I agree, I think the money/insurance angle is the really interesting issue. If your child is sick and you can’t afford the treatment will you be sent off to the poor house (jail) and your child sent off to an orphanage?

    • SOD, I’m not trying to minimize your important question about how the economy may affect hospital decisions and therefore our choices.

      But I don’t know enough about this. Many uninsured people go to the ER for things such as colds – perhaps they are they ones being turned away? I hope it’s not people who literally need a doctor’s intervention who are being turned away.

      At our hospital, the uninsured are treated rather well, and if they need treatment, they get it – they just have to keep showing up in the ER when they need it. Meanwhile, people upstairs with insurance don’t get some things because their insurance denies it. Weird, huh?

      And an unbelievably large number of people in ERs are there for alcohol and drug withdrawal. And of course, they, and the people with colds and the like, take time away from the people who really need the hospital. I think they really need to set up more low-income clinics which have inpatient beds for detox. When there are that many people presenting like that, they really need their own facility, I think.

  28. SoD, I just sent you an email.

  29. http://www.mncourts.gov/Documents/0/Public/Other/Hauser/Final_Order.pdf?elr=KArks7PYDiaK7DUvDE7aL_V_BD77:DiiUiacyKUUr

    I think you may find it illuminating to read the judge’s findings and order. It’s long but worth your time. The judge clearly states that his task is not to debate whether the law is right but to uphold the law as it is written. There is a lot revealed about the case in the findings.

    I think parents should have the right to make such a decision, but after reading the findings, I see why the judge ruled as he did.

    God bless Daniel, his parents, and any other families faced with such decisions.

    • Yes, that’s why I included the question about the law. Thanks for posting this emjaybee! 🙂

    • I too see why the judge did what he did. This is actually a much clearer case for intervening. But I still think there should be a really heavy burden on the part of the state to go this far. In this case I think they could have made it. But it should not be so easy.

      • In actuality it appears this judge was quite compassionate and thoughtful in his deliberation.

        He makes it quite clear in his ruling that these are caring parents. He seems equally clear that he believes that it was in Daniel’s best interest to continue treatment and that Daniel was not really old enough to determine what was in his best interest so the court was doing so on his behalf.

  30. Thank you everyone for a very thoughtful discussion of this issue. This is one of the reasons I love the Confluence. The intellectual level of our community is far and above any other on the net.

    I’m heading off to bed but please feel free to continue on.

  31. This boy is 13, “home schooled” and illiterate…unless he is significantly below average in intelligence, he parents are grossly negligent. Another aspect that hasn’t been discussed is the negligence of the person “treating” this child with “natural” therapy. That should be a felony and if the child died while in that persons “care”, capital murder.

    • That reminds me of a “therapy method” that ended up with a dead child and jailed therapists. I forget what it was called – maybe Sandra S remembers – but the point was to make the child feel like they were back in the womb – so the “therapists” covered them with lots of blankets – and the kid died.

      I’m sure these therapists felt very strongly about their theory about the etiology of this child’s problems, and how best to “right the wrong” with their treatment choice. I asked SOB up above to expand on how she defines “good faith decision” (but I think she’s gone to bed now) – because I’m thinking that these therapists probably believed their actions were based on a good faith decision…. but everyone’s life was ruined…

      • Oooops! SOD *not* SOB (sheesh, sorry!)

      • That was a “rebirthing therapy” if I recall correctly.

        • Yep. Not to be confused with re-parenting therapy which has faired better.

          • Most therapies are fairly benign, although not as many have a strong evidence basis. My problem is more that most mental health consumers just aren’t really aware what’s out there to choose from. I’d like to see mental health coverage for all, and an education campaign so that people can make educated choices about which to pursue.

            Not all therapies are benign though. The repressed memory fiasco springs to mind. And DID treatment may end up being in that same camp.

          • I agree. I think the APA (or other organization gov. or not) needs to be better at policing these things and having some sort of therapy approval process not unlike how drugs are handled. So a new therapy is in the labs until it’s tested enough and has independent corroboration of results. Then the approved therapies and people licensed to use them could be well known and publicized. Having both parents and a slew of relatives as psychologists I know that would not be a popular proposal. 🙂

  32. So, like all the moderators left and here we are without a late night open thread?

  33. therapists probably believed their actions were based on a good faith decision
    They can have all of the “good faith” and kill as many competent, consenting adult as they can..children are a different situation. Denying a child appropriate medical care is no different than the parents beating them to death.

  34. dakinikat has an awesome open thread with cocktails posted!

  35. If you look at the relevant law which states:

    ““parents are prohibited from denying a child the medical attention they need, and clarify that herbal and alternative medicines in treatments are not enough by themselves.”

    It doesn’t limit the question to issues of life or death and/or cancer. How does that change the debate? What about other illnesses with multiple treatment options?

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