Belated NY Blawg Round Up
Should They Have Been Charged?

Should the Court Have Interfered?

And, more importantly, should the parents have been found to be neglectful?

As reported in this article, a judge has ordered that a 16 year old, Starchild Abraham Cherrix (yes, that's really his name) abandon pursuing alternative cancer treatments and report to a hospital in order to undergo any cancer treatments deemed appropriate by physicians. 

Since he's a minor, I can accept that ruling, although I still question the determination that he's not in a position to make medical decisions  (with his parent's guidance).  But, the judge already ruled that he's under "joint custody" of his parents and the County.  So, the ruling makes sense--sort of.  I'm curious as to how the judge went about balancing the County's interests with the parent's and the boy's interests, and how that balancing act resulted in his decision.

But, what's even more interesting to me is that the judge found that Starchild's parent's were neglectful:

The judge also found Starchild Abraham Cherrix's parents were neglectful for allowing him to pursue alternative treatment of a sugar-free, organic diet and herbal supplements supervised by a clinic in Mexico, lawyer John Stepanovich said.

That just doesn't sit well with me.  It's one thing for the State or County to take custody of a minor and make medical decisions on behalf of said minor.  But, it's an entirely different thing to find the parents "neglectful" for encouraging their child to pursue alternative methods of  treatment.

When is it in the State's interest to protect "life"?  And who determines quality of life anyway?  Or is that simply not an important consideration?   

If someone wants to seek alternative treatments in lieu of aggressive,  invasive, and not necessarily effective treatments, is it really the government's business?  If someone chooses to die without having had their body ravaged by puke-inducing chemo, should the government have a say?  And if parents support their 16 year old (not exactly a wee little kid) son's decision to pursue alternative treatments, should they be deemed "neglectful" simply by virtue of philosophical differences?

If you haven't already guessed, my answer to each of the above questions is a resounding "no."  Or perhaps "NO!!!"

Comments

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Richard

I'm in 100% agreement with you.

To be logically consisitent, don't you also have to concede that government has abused it's authority by levying punative taxes on tobacco products? And there's a public policy idea floating around in some circles about whether gov't should levy a "fat tax" on foods high in saturated and/or trans-fatty fats. When should government have the right to interfer with personal decisions regarding one's own body?

NBlack

Interesting point, Richard. But, I see a distinction between a tax on certain goods, which is more of a penalty, vs. the imposition of the state's discretionary decision regarding "appropriate" medical treatments, which seems far more invasive to me.

Richard

I think the distinction, if you look at it closely, is one of degree only. With tobacco taxes, the state is making a discretionary decision for you about the most "appropriate" use of your body, whereas this current decision deals with the appropriateness of how your body should be treated for a disease. I see no practical difference.

NBlack

While I would agree with your assertion that it's a distinction of degree, I do think that the two situations are markedly different and that the governmental "intrusion" varies enough that one can be viewed as an acceptable interference while the other is not. The tax simply makes it slightly more difficult to engage in certain unhealthy behavior whereas the governmental compulsion to undergo invasive and not necessarily successful medical treatments is far more invasive and repugnant.

In other words, in my mind, the former passes the balancing test pitting governmental and societal interests against the level of intrusion while the latter does not.

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