Danny Hauser, 13 Years Old & Forced Into Chemotherapy
Danny Hauser, a 13-year old cancer patient from Minnesota, made the news recently when a court ordered him to undergo chemotherapy. Initially, the Hauser family refused to continue the next round of treatments after the first one proved to have too many side effects for the teenage boy. His case became fodder for media frenzy because his family is from a Native American faith called Nemenhah, which upholds the belief that modern medicine “harms the body”.
According to reports, US courts ruled that the boy needs to undergo treatment for his illness called Hodgkins Lymphoma. This type of cancer has a 90% survival rate if treated with chemotherapy.
Citing religious beliefs, Danny’s parents refused treatment which prompted the doctors to take it to court and charge them with medical neglect. The mere fact doctor’s who have no rights on the child can even get the courts involved is ludicrous but that issue is for another article.
The mother then took Danny and fled Minnesota, in an alleged attempt to seek alternative treatment in Mexico. The mother-and-son pair since returned voluntarily to Minnesota to continue their treatment, and charges against them have been dropped. Currently, media reports state that Danny is responding well to his chemotherapy.
Reading through snippets of news articles, one could easily conclude that the Hausers are your typical zealots, who are being fools to have to strictly adhere to their religious beliefs despite the pressing matter of their child’s health. But digging through more about this family, one would learn that the Hauser parents are an intelligent, hard-working couple who, after the first round of voluntary chemotherapy for Danny, concluded that the side effects are much too harsh for their son.
They then researched alternative treatments that could supplement chemotherapy, in order to alleviate the side effects. Unfortunately for the family, the media conveniently left out this information in a bid to sensationalize the family’s story.
At the core of this issue is something a lot of people are hard-pressed to ponder: at what point should families allow external institutions—be it religion, medicine, the state, or a mixture of two or more of these—decide on the welfare of under-age children?
It is essentially an academic question, up for public debate for policy makers, religious groups, medical practitioners, and those in the media. But for some of us who would dare place ourselves in the shoes of the Hauser family or those like them, the answer should be simple enough.
When it comes to the children, especially in matters regarding their very health, we should base our decisions on what is best for them; which means, regardless of any obstacle or any conflict in any form, we must be prepared to compromise just so we could ensure that our children are well and safe.
We should be able to set aside personal convictions, religious beliefs, and such when faced with the situation of having a very ill child. Sure, it’s hard to put these things aside as it is only human to seek support from wherever we find it available. Sometimes though, too much of it may cloud our judgment and we fail to recognize that we are not making the right choices.
It is disheartening how many cases such as the Hausers’ are happening all over the country. A woman from South Carolina was also charged by the court with medical neglect after doctors deemed that she fails to provide medical attention to her 14-year old son who weighs a mind numbingly staggering 555-pounds.
Like Hauser’s mother, she also fled with her son in an attempt to escape the court ruling. Another case is that of actor John Travolta and his son. Travolta’s son, Jett, passed away when he met an accident while the family was on vacation. He was said to have a certain type of autism, but the family refused to acknowledge his condition as such because it is not aligned with their Scientological beliefs.
This growing popularity of alternative health and medical philosophies may be attributed to a lot of things: it could be the disillusionment of people towards the current health care system; or the increasing perception that advanced medical technology is becoming too invasive; or simply perhaps it’s the inaccessibility of health care for low income populations.
But no matter where our convictions are coming from, we should always remember that as parents and as the adults in the family, our children look to us—not religion, science or the state—for proper guidance and care.
What Are Your Thoughts On This?
I’ll look forward to your comments.
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