I didn’t write about this before, but I’m sure quite a few of you have heard of Daniel Hauser. He’s 13 years old and has cancer. The doctors think that with chemotherapy he stands a very good chance of surviving. He went through one course of chemo, but then refused any more and the tumors have grown since then. Daniel and his parents said they thought chemo would kill him and they were going to try Native American holistic healing practices instead. (Snort.) He and his mom, Colleen, fled when child protective services got involved to force them to abide by the doctors’ orders.
Anyway, Daniel and his mom have returned voluntarily from Mexico to face the music. It looks like they just didn’t want to hide anymore. At any rate, Colleen promised she’ll do what the court advises for Daniel from now on. I hope she holds to that. I would be a lot more sympathetic if the chemo only stood a small chance of working, or if the doctors said it would only prolong his life but Daniel would die of the cancer in the end. But I expect if that was the case, the family court would not be getting involved. For the Hausers to refuse a treatment that is predicted to be 90% effective, in exchange for doing…well, nothing, is lunacy.
Being an atheist, of course I don’t believe in “faith healing,” nor do I believe in New Age-type treatments. Acupuncture and herbal remedies is about as far as I’m willing to go. I do believe in the right of parents to decide what’s best, medically, for their child (even if their decisions seem dumb to me), and the right of children to have input in their medical decisions once they reach their teens. But I don’t believe those rights should be without qualification. Their freedom ends when the medical condition becomes life-threatening. The protection of life is paramount.
A lot of people, perhaps even the majority, can be awfully stupid when it comes to medical decisions. Like, for example, people with high cholesterol who refuse to take, or stop taking, medications that could prolong their life. And who goes through their full course of antibiotics even after the symptoms disappear, every time? Also people who smoke, when they know perfectly well what the dangers are — I’ve never understood that at all. When Daniel Hauser turns 18, he’s allowed to be as much of a moron as he wants about this. Until then, he should do what the doctors say, because if he doesn’t, he’ll probably never reach 18 at all.