I’ve been pondering the above question after reading two different news items about parents who either have refused or are refusing mainstream medical treatments for their kids. The first news item is about a court ruling against Colleen and Anthony Hauser of Minneapolis, Minnesota who had opted not to have their son, Daniel Hauser, receive chemotherapy for cancer in preference for “alternative” medical treatments:
In a 58-page ruling, Brown County District Judge John Rodenberg found Daniel Hauser has been “medically neglected” by his parents, Colleen and Anthony Hauser. The judge allowed Daniel to stay with his parents, noting they love him, but he gave them until Tuesday to get an updated chest X-ray of Daniel’s tumor and select an oncologist.
If the tumor has not grown and if Daniel’s prognosis is still as optimistic as doctors testified last week, then chemotherapy and possible radiation appear to be in Daniel’s best interest, Rodenberg wrote.
“The State has successfully shown by clear and convincing evidence that continued chemotherapy is medically necessary,” he wrote, adding he would not order chemotherapy if doctors find the cancer has advanced to a point where it is “too late.”
If chemotherapy is ordered and the family refuses, the judge said, Daniel will be placed in temporary custody.
The cancer in question is Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Daniel’s doctors say there’s a 90% chance he’ll survive if he receives chemotherapy, but only a 5% chance if he doesn’t. He’s had one round so far after which the parents sought a second opinion only to have the same treatment suggested. They’ve since opted to go with the alternative medicine approach claiming it’s part of their religious beliefs:
Court testimony indicated Daniel’s tumor shrank after the first round of chemo, but has since grown. His mother, Colleen Hauser, testified last week: “My son is not in any medical danger at this point.” She has been treating his cancer with herbal supplements, vitamins, ionized water, and other natural alternatives—despite testimony from five doctors who agreed Daniel needed chemotherapy.
Five doctors have concurred and the woman insists on using bullshit treatments based on her religious beliefs. Just what are those beliefs anyway?
The Hausers, who have eight children, are Roman Catholic and also believe in the “do no harm” philosophy of the Nemenhah Band. The Missouri-based religious group believes in natural healing methods advocated by some American Indians.
Rodenberg wrote that Daniel claims to be an elder in the band, but does not know what that means. Daniel also says he is a medicine man under Nemenhah teachings but can’t say how he became a medicine man or what teachings he has had to become one.
He also noted that at age 13, Daniel can’t read.
“He lacks the ability to give informed consent to medical procedures,” Rodenberg said.
[…] According to Daniel’s court testimony, he believes the chemo will kill him, and said: “I’d fight it. I’d punch them and I’d kick them.”
How’s that for kooky? Roman Catholic mixed with Native American pseudo-shamanism. A kid who is illiterate yet claims to be a medicine man and who has stated he will actively resist any attempts to use mainstream treatments on him. Obviously the parents have gotten this kid pretty damn delusional to the point that he is willing to risk his own life. Should the state have any say in the matter or should they respect the family’s religious beliefs no matter how suicidally stupid they are?
I’m leaning towards the opinion that they should let the family do what they want in this regard and then, if the parent’s inaction results in the death of the boy, charge them with negligent homicide. That’s what is happening in the case of the parents that tried to pray away their daughter’s diabetes. The mother is now facing charges because of her death:
Neumann is charged with second-degree reckless homicide in the Easter 2008 death of her 11-year-old daughter Madeline from undiagnosed diabetes. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison.
Neumann has said her family believes in the Bible, which says healing comes from God, and she never expected her daughter to die.
According to the criminal complaint, Madeline’s father considered the girl’s illness “a test of faith” and Neumann never considered taking the girl to the doctor because she thought her daughter was under a “spiritual attack.”
The family does not belong to an organized religion or faith, Neumann has said.
During opening statements, Assistant District Attorney LaMont Jacobson told the jury this case isn’t about religious freedom or religious rights.
“This case is about Madeline Neumann’s needless suffering and death,” he said.
In both cases the families are relying on their beliefs over modern medical practice as a means of treating their kid’s illnesses. One family has already been shown how poor an approach that is and the other is about to learn the same lesson, but perhaps that’s a lesson that some folks just have to learn the hard way. Madeline’s diabetes was easily treatable and she could have had a long and happy life. Daniel’s cancer is also treatable with a high survivability rate when handled properly. It’s a shame their parents are so wrapped up in their religious bullshit that they’re willing to let their kids die rather than have them treated for their conditions, but I suppose it does cut back on the possibility of those memes being spread to yet another generation in that family tree.
A small bit of irony during the first day of Neumann’s trial. She suffered a medical emergency and they called 911:
Prosecutors had begun laying out their case against Leilani Neumann, 41, on Saturday morning. About 20 minutes in to their opening statement, as they described the girl’s condition the day before she died, Neumann put her head in her arms on the table.
Moments later her attorneys expressed concern, asking for a recess so they could get her some air. She appeared visibly weak as her husband and others escorted her from the courtroom to a downstairs office.
Judge Vincent Howard ordered court security to call 911 and have Neumann medically evaluated.
While she was being examined by paramedics in the office, her defense attorney, Gene Linehan, told the judge Neumann was suffering a total physical and emotional breakdown.
“She claimed she has no feeling in her arms and legs,” Linehan said, telling the judge Neumann could not participate in her defense in her current state.
The judge agreed to a recess, saying Neumann “needs a medical evaluation, not a judicial one, at least at this stage.”
Why didn’t they just have her husband pray away her breakdown instead of calling in paramedics? If it was good enough for her daughter than surely it would be good enough for Mrs. Neumann.
Her husband’s trial, by the way, is scheduled to start July 23rd.