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Refusal of Medical Care: Child Abuse?

Discussion in 'General Debates' started by Falvlun, May 21, 2009.

  1. Falvlun

    Falvlun Earthbending Lemur Staff Member Premium Member

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    The recent story of Danny Hauser, a 13 year old boy with cancer, has brought into the spotlight the rights of parents to refuse medical treatment for their children.

    I really have two minds about the matter.

    On one hand, I see refusing life-saving treatment for your child as equivalent to child abuse at best and man-slaughter at worst. You are knowingly subjecting your child to unnecessary pain and suffering, and possibly death, by refusing known remedies.

    On the other hand, it does seem a bit murky to force parents to subject their children to treatments they view as bad, sinful, etc.

    Where do we draw the line? Should treatment be mandatory?
     
  2. linwood

    linwood New Member

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    We draw the line at reality.

    Belief in your imaginary friend is just fine up to and until you begin to rely on your imaginary friend to remove the cancer from your child's brain.

    That`s when it becomes really ridiculous really fast.
     
    Kilgore Trout likes this.
  3. Seyorni

    Seyorni Well-Known Member

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    Vedanta (reform)
    There's also the fact that the child in question is rational and, himself, refuses conventional treatment.
     
  4. linwood

    linwood New Member

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    He`s 13.
    He has no rights.

    There`s a reason for this.
     
    Seven likes this.
  5. Circle_One

    Circle_One Well-Known Member

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    I tend to agree with Linwood here. While I happen to have an "imaginary friend" (;)), I certainly wouldn't rely on Her to drain the cancer from my dying son's withering body.

    I whole heartedly believe it is child abuse to refuse treatments and sit back idly while you watch your child die before your eyes. I call it abuse, neglect, disgusting, ridiculous, unbelievable, stupid, and add to that a some-people-shouldn't-be-allowed-to-have-children.
     
  6. dawny0826

    dawny0826 Well-Known Member

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    If the ailment is treatable, heck yes, treatment should be mandatory.

    I could understand bypassing treatment if an illness is terminal and the treatment significantly alters the quality of life.

    Otherwise, I believe parents have the responsibility to ensure their children receive adequate medical care. Parents should be able to make decisions regarding treatment and to refuse one remedy in favor of another feasible remedy is perfectly acceptable, in my opinion.
     
  7. Storm

    Storm ThrUU the Looking Glass

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    UU/ panentheist/ neopagan/ process theology
    I'll be the lone voice of dissent, then. I find the idea of the government forcing medical treatment on the unwilling repugnant.

    That said, I honestly don't know about this issue.
     
  8. blackout

    blackout Violet.

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    I don't know. My mother underwent a natural cancer treatment,
    and outlived the doctor's chemo "prognosis".
    She didn't go through all the awful chemo side affects either as a result.

    I remember her original doctor YELLING at her.
    It's not like chemo is any kind of a guarantee cure either,
    and it toxifies your body, when you should be detoxifying.

    There are other options is all I'm saying.

    I personally would not go the chemo route for mySelf either.
    I have my own reasons.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2009
  9. blackout

    blackout Violet.

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    No. I second your voice.
     
  10. keithnurse

    keithnurse New Member

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    If an adult wants to refuse medical treatment for himself for a disease because the treatment is against his religion, that's one thing, but when a child is involved, and the parent refuses proven medical treatment for the CHILD, I think that is child abuse. We don't allow parents to withhold education from child, should we allow parents to withhold adequate healthcare from the child?
     
  11. Zephyr

    Zephyr Moved on

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    A child cannot consent, and there have been many other cases where the government has taken custody. A parent who would refuse their children medical care in favor of superstition or pseudoscience is negligent.
     
  12. gnomon

    gnomon Well-Known Member

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    One question overlooked.

    What basis do we have that a 13 year old child has developed a freedom of conscience on the same level an adult has?

    Children are solely at the whim of their parents, as in the U.S. greater respect is given to parental rights to raise their child, and the notion that a child has freedom of religion assumes that the child has the life experience and rationality to determine among all their observations of nature and various beliefs their own conscience.

    Looking at how children are practically indoctrinated in all cultural aspects by their parents and the society around them I find the notion that a child, even as old as 13, has the experience of an adult somewhat naive.

    What's worrisome in this case is that the question is not merely a so called religious freedom issue but that the child in question has basically been led to a delusion. If it wasn't for the harrowing condition of his physical health the claims the parents, child and the tribe offering him help have offered up regarding this child's beliefs would be a serious question for a child psychologist.

    In essence, the group they claim to be a part of is a so called native american group (not any sort of recognized tribe) that is solely founded on its natural healing one of whose leaders has prior fraud convictions regarding magic mushrooms and the claim to cure AIDS. A group I do not believe that receives much respect from actual American nations such as the Lakota or any of the others for that matter.

    Is it all child abuse? I think the parents love their child and want the best for him. They may be negligent but there is no evidence of intentional abuse of the child.
     
  13. Storm

    Storm ThrUU the Looking Glass

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    I agree with your conclusion, based upon your take on the issue, but I also see it differently.

    For me the question is where we draw the line regarding when a child has sufficient experience and autonomy. It is of course ludicrous to say an infant has a choice. I find it equally ludicrous to say that a 17 year old doesn't.

    This particular case is not so clear. With what I'm hearing about the boy's indoctrination and (lack of) education, I doubt his capacity. A more typical child of the same age would be more difficult, however.

    Thank you for making that distinction.
     
  14. gnomon

    gnomon Well-Known Member

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    Arbitrary age distinction is a problem in this and other areas such as consent, etc.

    If the courts can be capable of making the determination could be consistent we could rely on them but that opens other problems as well. Even what I would like which is changing our whole culture to moving adulthood to an arbitrary age of 16 for public education graduation, driving, military service, drug laws....in other words all responsibilities of adulthood accepted at 16 instead of 18. But I don't really hold to that anymore. I don't think its economically viable moving even more people into the private industry or higher education nor what mechanism could be used beyond on an unpopular socialist policy to alter our current social model.

    What I find more interesting about this specific case, and thus my posts in this thread probably belong in the other and vice versa, is that the religious exemption claim the parents are making itself may be on thin ice. The group they attached themselves to are not actually a religion but a collection of natural healers. So what specific religious claim are they making. The group's website even states that adhering to the secular laws are important. The questionable nature of the leadership I already mentioned as well as the fact that their claims of Native American tradition are probably not supported by actual members of those societies.

    I've easily found a couple of sites supporting alternative medicine and native american traditions that call the group plastic shaman.

    edit: It should be remarked that the Nemenhah group while promoting natural healing will default to stating that local laws should be supported specifically to avoid liability claims in a case such as that of Danny Hauser.
     
  15. Storm

    Storm ThrUU the Looking Glass

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    44,609
    Religion:
    UU/ panentheist/ neopagan/ process theology
    Gnomon, I don't have anything more to say, but I wanted to let you know I'd read your response. :)
     
  16. Kilgore Trout

    Kilgore Trout Misanthropic Humanist

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    If the kid dies, the parents should go to prison. Children are not able to make their own decisions or take care of themselves, and completely depend on others to do so. Any extreme negligence by parents should be severely punished, or prevented if at all possible.
     
  17. Imagist

    Imagist Worshipper of Athe.

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    I would be surprised if you can find one example where this occurred and the idea WASN'T put there by the child's parents. Children's trust in their parents is a very strong biological bond.

    In any case, a child CANNOT be rational in such situations, both because their thought processes are not mature enough to deal with complex ideas like death, and because they don't have the life experiences to give background to the choices they make.
     
  18. Imagist

    Imagist Worshipper of Athe.

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    The word "unwilling" implies a level of will that children do not or SHOULD not have. It's up to parents to make decisions for the well-being of the child when the child is not mature enough to make those decisions for him/herself.

    Nobody considers that a child might want to play on a busy highway when the child is dragged out of the street kicking and screaming by their parent. In fact, if a parent DIDN'T do that, we would think the parent irresponsible and a bad parent.

    Parents of children who refuse treatment aren't just sitting back and letting their children make the decision generally; they at least advise their children to refuse treatment. That's like telling your child to go play on the busy highway.

    Again, the will of the child is irrelevant here. It's the responsibility of the parents to do what's best for the child.
     
  19. Imagist

    Imagist Worshipper of Athe.

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    I have a hard time believing this. What "natural cancer treatment" was used?
     
  20. Imagist

    Imagist Worshipper of Athe.

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    Lack of intent is meaningful only to a certain point. In this case it's only the difference between manslaughter and murder.
     
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