I Cut, You Choose…..

………and he dies?

Today, a judge in Minnesota decided that a 13 year old cancer patient’s family does NOT have the right to reject chemotherapy, for their son who has Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  The family of the young man had decided, along with their son, that they wished to honor their religious beliefs to choose natural healing and alternative treatments.  They had allowed one chemo treatment and then, allegedly stopped it.  The court has allegedly found them to have medically neglected their son.

The family belongs to a religious organization called, the Nemenhad Band; they believe in natural healing for those in need.Write Where You Are

Cue Twilight Zone jingle.  This sounds eerily familiar.  Can anybody spell “Terri Schiavo?”

The boy’s treating physician says withholding therapy is tantamount to executing him, placing probability of death at “95%.”  Meanwhile, the child himself adamantly refuses it, saying he’d “bite the doctor’s arm off” if they tried to force him. —  TwinCities.com

Well, Ms. Schiavo wasn’t a threat to bite anybody.  That canine reflex response was left to Jeb! and his band of crusading moral zealots who claimed they could communicate with her despite her Swiss Cheese cortex.

If the object of the game is to save the boy’s life, then in my humble, uninformed, and unasked-for opinion, they should go with their doctors’ prescription.tp_diag01

But doesn’t the family have the moral authority to do what it thinks best for its loved ones, and conform to the spiritual directives it has voluntarily embraced?  They don’t sound like a pack of irresponsible zanies whose judgment is a threat to themselves and others, possibly justifying intervention by government authority.   Because that’s what this is: government authority intervening on a very personal intra-familial decision based on religious convictions.

If the sole object of the game is to save the boy’s life, then in my humble, uninformed, and unasked-for opinion, they should go with their doctors’ prescription.  There better be damn good reason to step in……

……like saving a kid’s life, maybe?  That was the justification Attorney General Jack Reno floated for firebombing the Branch Davidians at Waco.  “To save the children,” remember?

Logically, there are four options: (a) The right person chooses right; (b) The right person chooses wrong; (c) The wrong person chooses right, (d) The wrong person chooses wrong.

I submit that in most people would agree that (a) is the best and (d) is the worst.  My prejudice is that (b) trumps (c), although you can get stuck with some real sour outcomes.  Like a dead 13 year old.  But maybe a sour outcome is the price of preserving choice.

Of course, the real pleasure is watching the debate proceed among rivals who routinely, and maybe purposely, confuse (a) through (d) as they holler right past one another, regardless of the actual issue, whether it’s euthanasia, abortion, capital punishment, or, in this case, rejection of treatment.  And then there’s the prior issue: who determines the identity of the the right and wrong person?

We’ll see how this one plays out.  But I see a child’s funeral and maybe the first national apearance of a Nemenhad ceremony.

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14 Responses to I Cut, You Choose…..

  1. Pingback: I Cut, You Choose….. | cancer research

  2. Totally Depressed says:

    Well that’s a happy little story for this fine Tueday morning . . .

  3. alesh says:

    The kid gets to choose. If he were 6 it might be different, but at 13 it’s not even a remote issue. I’d separate him from his parents for a day or two and let a psychologist interview him to make sure it’s what he really wants, and if he insists it’s off to the acupuncture and medicinal marijuana with him,

  4. 8 Bells says:

    The toilet paper is appropriate for your discussion of ethics.

    This is a no-brainer. You have cultists willing to sacrifice their own son vs. skilled physicians who have already demonstrated the success of their approach. It’s obvious who has earned the right to make this decision, and it’s obvious what that decision should be. Choose life.

  5. Barbara Ganousch says:

    It isn’t my family, so it’s not my call. If it was, I’d argue vociferously with the parents, but ultimately, I’d be resigned to losing the 13 year old because it has to be the family’s choice. You have to allow citizens of this country the freedom to live consistent with their own religious beliefs, even when it means life and death. Perhaps especially when it means life and death.

  6. B. Pheeder says:

    Does anybody even for a second entertain the possibility that maybe the family is right, and the kid WILL recover using herbs and spices or whatever they have in mind? Is that relevant here?

  7. Ted End says:

    Thanks for clearing up the debate on which way to load the toilet paper. That’s been puzzling me for I dont know how long. Years I bet.

  8. Beardsley says:

    It’s nice to see you’re still finding uses for your graduate studies in philosophy. Well, to the extent that blogging is a “use.”

    It might help to point out — the way the TP caption presumes — that “good” and “right” aren’t always identical. As you well know, the British philosopher David Ross addressed these concepts in The Right and the Good” over 40 years ago.

    So the “right” choice, no matter who makes it, might have a “bad” outcome. Would that make the right choice wrong? It’s a whole other layer of debate for the same kind of issues.

  9. Borkon says:

    Alesh (above) gives the 13 year old ‘way too much credit, methinks. I doubt a 13 year old know enough to make a life/death decision about himself. What’s that, middle school age?

    As for sending him to any kind of shrink, and relying on that to guide further action, you might as well skip that step for all it’s worth. If the shrink is in the pocket of the pharmaceutical/medical/insurance interests, the verdict is in before the hearing. Besides, siccing a shrink on a 13 year old is more traumatic than chemo.

  10. Flaming Yon says:

    “Swiss cheese cortex.” That’s sweet, and lends an air of Sunday School dignity to this philosophical discussion of life and death.

  11. Ray Ed Gneck says:

    I bet if you ran a poll you’d find that the same people who are okay with abortion-on-demand, euthanasia, but opposed to capital punishment, would support the family’s decision not to go with the chemo. I bet these people are also okay with legalizing marijuana. And I bet they’d all be comfortable calling themselves “liberals” or “progressives.”

    Those of us who respect life and prize it above all else are on the opposite side of all that.

  12. Fran G'Panni says:

    Ray Ed Gneck: Too bad you respect life and not people, let alone the opinions of people you don’t like. Stereotype city. It’s 100% clear to you that pro-choice means pro-abortion, and anybody of that mindsetdisrespects life, right?

    My bet is you respect guns and beer more than life. Oh my! I’m stereotyping just like you. Tee hee.

  13. Dr. Brian says:

    Thanks for a great article, I will pass this on to my patients…
    Dr. Hardy

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