Some of you may be following the story of Colleen Hauser and her 13 year-old son, Daniel, who has Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and needs chemotherapy in order to survive.
The family belongs to a religious group that believes in “natural” healing methods and Daniel himself has stated that he believes chemotherapy will kill him (as if the cancer won’t). He told a judge that if anyone tried to force him to receive chemo, “I’d fight it. I’d punch them and I’d kick them.” According to the news article,
“The Hausers are Roman Catholic and also believe in the “do no harm” philosophy of the Nemenhah Band, a Missouri-based religious group that believes in natural healing methods advocated by some American Indians. Colleen Hauser testified earlier that she had been treating his cancer with herbal supplements, vitamins, ionized water and other natural alternatives.”
“Minnesota statutes require parents to provide necessary medical care for a child, Rodenberg wrote. The statutes say alternative and complementary health care methods aren’t enough.”
According to the judge, Daniel has a learning disability, is unable to understand the seriousness of his illness, and therefore not able to make an educated decision in the matter.
Personally, I agree with the authorities in this matter. But even then, there are some difficult questions that don’t really have an easy answer:
- Should a child be given the power to decide for himself/herself whether he/she wishes to go through a difficult round of chemotherapy?
- How important is it that he is a minor? If he were an 18 year-old still living under the influence of his parents and this religious sect, would you feel differently?
- Should authorities have the power to intervene if anyone is risking his or her life under the influence of a religious sect that is dissuading them from receiving life-saving treatment or medication?
- Is there anything to be learned from those whose involvement in the anti-psychiatry philosophy of Scientology cost them their lives? Did we do too little or is intervening an infringement on their personal freedoms?