Saturday, May 9, 2009

Religion vs Medicine

A mother testified that religious beliefs prevent her son from taking chemo. Doctors said he will likely die without it.

By MAURA LERNER, Star Tribune
Last update: May 8, 2009 - 11:03 PM

The mother of 13-year-old Daniel Hauser testified Friday that she and her son would refuse to comply with any court order requiring the boy to resume chemotherapy for his cancer.

"Danny clearly made up his mind. He's not doing it,'' Colleen Hauser, of Sleepy Eye, Minn., testified on the opening day of a trial over whether a court should order the boy into medical treatment against the family's wishes.

Hauser, whose son was diagnosed in January with Hodgkin's lymphoma, said conventional treatments such as chemotherapy conflict with the family's religious beliefs. She said they prefer natural remedies such as herbs and vitamins.

Asked where she learned about the alternative healing techniques, Hauser said, "on the Internet.''

Daniel sat stoically through the opening part of the trial as his first oncologist, Dr. Bruce Bostrom of Children's Hospitals and Clinics in Minneapolis, testified that his chances of survival would drop to 5 percent without treatment.

The boy left shortly afterward and never returned to the courtroom. He is scheduled to testify this morning in a closed session before the judge, after his lawyer said he was uncomfortable talking in open court. The case is expected to be finished today, and the judge said he didn't expect to issue a ruling this weekend.

As a day of tense testimony began, dozens of family friends and supporters lined the courtroom, but the mood was subdued. At one point, a handful of natural-health advocates arrived with signs to show their support for the Hausers. But they were ordered to leave their placards outside the courthouse.

The Hausers declined to speak to reporters after Friday's court session. But Dan Zwakman, a member of the Nemenhah religious group to which they belong, acted as the family spokesman. He argued that this is a case about religious freedom, noting that the group's motto is "our religion is our medicine."

Link to original article: HERE

I'm trying to figure out where I would stand on something like this. Obviously the parents are clinically insane for believing prayer or their religion (or some "natural" remedies) will cure their child of cancer. Dangerously insane since their child will likely die without chemotherapy.

I suppose the horrible question is... do I care?

Of course I would feel bad for the kid. He's been raised to trust his parents and he believes what they are telling him. That's not his fault, he's just a kid and kids (as I well know. I AM the one who almost jumped from a 19th story balcony when I was 8 because I was thinking if I believed it enough, I would fly. I guess you would call that, "throwing myself at the ground and missing" :P) have great imaginations and a huge capacity for belief.
I do believe in the freedom to do what you think is right for yourself as long as it doesn't harm others. In this case, the parents would be harming a young child but he is THEIR young child. If he passes away that is really just natural selection at work, is it not? Their genes will not live on because they were maladaptive. Bad for the kid, better for humanity.
Yet if they were physically abusing him through beatings and neglect I WOULD advocate removing him from their home, so how is this any different? I suppose that is the fine line here.

My other thought was, "What if they are doing this to force the issue so they won't have to pay for treatment?" That really would be some evil genius right there. Imagine: Parents take the kid for chemo once (the article clearly states he won't "resume chemotherapy"), spend their savings, the kid's college fund, their 401K - then decide they just can't afford any more. What to do? Refuse treatment so the courts force the issue and make the kid get chemo! Then the parents can argue, "We never wanted chemo, you don't know if he would have gotten better with our INTERNET remedies - WE AIN'T PAYING!" and then the payment can be forced onto the taxpayers. Brilliant.

So I suppose at the end, I hope they take that kid away from the parents all together - not that they will. They are allowed to be as religiously kooky as they like and everyone else will continue to pay the price, including their children.

1 comment:

  1. I'm with you all the way, except for one thing:

    His parents aren't insane. They're ignorant and deluded. When you're ignorant to the efficacy of things like chemo, and gullible enough to believe it when you're told that magical cures will work, your ignorance allows a stupid, wrong decision to come as a valid conclusion off of a wrong premise.

    They're not insane. They're just stupid.