Sunday, May 17, 2009

Hippocratic Oafs

Poison your child or we will take your child from you.
Submit to the taking of your child, or we will imprison you. 
Submit to imprisonment, or we will kill you.

In the Police State, the penalty is always death, and the choice is never yours.

Submit, or die.

In what seems mostly oddly comparable to the biblical story of Abraham and Issac, a Judge in Minnesota has ordered a 13 year old boy's parents to resume submitting him to chemotherapy treatment for Hodgkin's Lymphoma, despite the fact that neither the boy, nor his parents feel that is best for him, or his health. If Anthony and Colleen Hauser refuse to sacrifice little Danny Hauser to illustrate their obedience to the all-knowing State, Brown County District Judge John Rodenberg states that the boy will be taken from his parents custody, and will consider charging them with Medical Neglect. Of course, unlike the biblical fable, the government is unlikely to say "just kidding" at the last minute. These tests of faith are for keep.

The boy, Danny, had completed one course of chemo, which the parents felt they were coerced into accepting, and decided after seeing the side effects of chemo treatment firsthand, that they would explore other treatments available to them. They stated through their court appointed lawyer that they felt that "the injection of chemotherapy into Danny Hauser amounts to an assault upon his body, and torture when it occurs over a long period of time,"

Danny himself is vehemently opposed to the treatment, stating in his court testimony that he believes the chemo will kill him, and said: "I'd fight it. I'd punch them and I'd kick them."

After that initial treatment, the Hausers decided they wouldn't subject Danny to any more chemo without his consent, and began to explore other treatment options, include homeopathic and native American methods. The doctor who administered the Chemo was concerned by this, and contacted the County Prosecutor's office, who asked a judge to intervene. He did.

A large segment of the alternative cancer treatment crowd feels that Hodgkin's lymphoma has a very high success rate with non-chemo treatments, but medical experts offered their opinion that without Chemotherapy treatment Danny has a 95% chance of dying. (I didnt even go to med school, but im fairly confident that the actual chance of mortality is somewhat closer to 100%, in all cases.) But they made no mention of the fact that when Danny orriginaly went to the doctor, he could barely breath, and now (despite suffering from a Deep Vein Thrombosis that appeared in his arm immediately following the initiation of chemo) he claims to feel just fine, much better than he did immediately after the treatment.

A court-appointed attorney for Daniel, Philip Elbert, called the judge's decision unfortunate.

"I feel it's a blow to families," he said Friday. "It marginalizes the decisions that parents face every day in regard to their children's medical care. It really affirms the role that big government is better at making our decisions for us."

Which, of course is the legal precedence that is set forth here, that the government and its approved sources of information are better qualified that you to make personal decisions involving your health, or that of your child. The money quote from the judgement was that the state has demonstrated "a compelling interest in the life and welfare of Daniel sufficient to override fundimental constitutional rights of both the parents and Daniel" 

While many people claim that the chemotherapy in question might help Danny overcome his illness, none are willing to state that the chemotherapy will not hurt him, and this is where the Hauser family comes to odds with contemporary popular opinion, as they don't believe it is ever acceptable to cause harm to another human being, without that beings explicit permission. In essence, they have their own, voluntary, Hippocratic Oath, and they meant to keep it. The government, of course, borne out of the concept of "the greater good," has no such compunction, feeling that no sacrifice is too great, as long as it receives benefit from it in the end. Perhaps the profit seeking medical industry has adopted the same outlook, in search of profits. 

A commenter on one story I read has accepted this judgement with blind faith in science, without ever having looked at it himself. Not very scientific of him, I don't think, but i think this is how the majority of public opinion swings, today. Accepting the opinion of "Great Authority" without qualification, or their own understanding of the moral issues at hand. This great vox populi stated:

Jonathan May 17
The only choice is between Scientifically proven methods or Voodoo. Of course it is child abuse when parent such as this and the last commentator continue to try and cure their children with voodoo. Ignorance is not an excuse.
I think scientifically proven is a bit of an unfounded statement there, isn't it Johnathan? It is proven, I mean there were studies right? they must have proved them, after all. Yes, of course. But proven to do what?

It is proven to Kill cellular tissue, as most poisons of that type will, and in certain types of tumor, it is proven to reduce tumor size by a statistically significant amount in a statistically significant segment of a test group.

That is it. It does not say it will cure cancer, no one has ever claimed it will, and most people who undergo chemotherapy eventualy die of cancer. (I'd venture that the majority of those who dont, die in auto-accidents and by suicide, if not complications from the immune system crushing that is chemo.) There is no guarantee that it will even extend the life of the patient, and in some cases it will drastically reduce it.

And that is to say nothing of what is "proven" in the way of the worst side effects of any drug still allowed on the market.

In essence, all that is proven 100% of the time, is that the outcome will be a crap shoot, and the experience painful and miserable. In the case of something that benefits a percentage of individual patients, but harms 100% of patients, human judgement must be used to figure out if that particular case would be better served by the application of treatment or not.

A child is not a statistic, and neither is any other patient. It might be proven to statistically improve a percentage of patients, but those statistics are only designed to guide the judgement of applicability to the INDIVIDUAL case. This is why, in the US, which is one of the heaviest pro-chemo medical industries in the world, still does not prescribe chemo in 100% of cancer cases.

It is only after the consideration of the type and stage of the cancer, as well as the general health and age of the patient that many sufferers of cancer are told by their doctors, that chemo treatment is not advisable, and that they should go home.

In the case of an individual, these choices are recommended by the doctor and the final decision is made by the patient. In the case of a child, who is better able to make these judgements than the parent who knows the child, and is responsible for looking for their well being?

The choice presented isnt as was stated, between "proven science and voodoo" it is between something that may help, with blind luck, but is guaranteed to simultaneously create great suffering, and something that may also help, but also, and more importantly to at least these parents, will not hurt the child.

This decision is to be made as a judgement call, and not by statistical analysis, or it would have to treat every case of gran mal seizures with a hemispherectomy, no matter that the treatment could be as simple as a mild anti convulsant. It is a parent's right to do what they think is best for their child, especially when the alternative can be nothing but suffering, and a painful, hairless, vomiting death.

Well, Johnathan, if ignorance is not an excuse, what is yours?

And what is the state's excuse, and you, Doctor, what is yours?

Perhaps you forgot this portion of your precious oath: 
"Above all, I must not play at God."

How quickly we forget.

If you would like to read more about Danny Hauser's case, and the judge that ruled neither he nor his parents have say over what is done with his body, you can, here 


chris horton said...

Having watched,from an early age,every male in my family die from one form of cancer or another,I can personally say that chemo is not the way to go.

My father choose all the other means but chemo. Cancer did kill him eventually,but he got 14 more years by avoiding it.

It's just horrible this child,as well as his parents,must suffer because of these overzeleous rubes.


Jay21 said...

great post on yet another topic that i have been to lazy to write about. Keep up the work!

ReverendFranz said...

Thanks, I decided years ago that i would never take chemo, which is a serious consideration as today, two in three men will have cancer in their lifetimes. This is a genuine quality of life issue, and it is horrifying that any government would find "Compelling interest" to overrule my constitutionally protected right to choose, just to test the obedience of its subjects.