Do you have the right to refuse your children medical treatment?

danielLots of you have been talking about the story of Daniel Hauser, the cancer stricken teen who has returned voluntarily with his mother  after fleeing Minnesota to avoid chemotherapy. The family are members of a religious group that believe in natural healing methods. Do you have the right to refuse medical treatment? What’s the point in forcing someone to accept treatment?

This blogger sides with the parents rather than the state because cancer treatments can be unnecessarily vicious.  But Kate Dailey on the Newsweek blog believes that in this case, using the best interests of the child not to provide treatment is just not good enough.

This Christian theologian agrees
“In these cases I advise what the great Reformer Martin Luther advised — take your medicine and put your trust in God. For parents, this means to give your child the best care that modern medicine can offer, and to entrust your precious child to God and to God alone”

And the story is not isolated.

Leilani Neumann  has been found guilty of reckless homicide for praying instead of getting medical treatment for her diabetic daughter.

Another example that comes up time and time again is that of Jehovah’s witnesses refusing blood transfusions. The story of Bethany Huges has been back in the news in Canada. She was diagnosed with Leukaemia when she was 17. She needed a life saving blood transfusion but did everything she could to refuse the treatment, even pulling tubes out of her arms. Her father agreed to the transfusions against the wishes of her family  and the matter ended up in court. Should soceity stop interfering and respect a parent’s right to decide what constitutes suitable care for their child?

In the case of the Hausers, over 50%  of respondents on this MSNBC poll agreed that parents should get an ultimate say in a child’s medical treatment. That surprised me.  As this forum discusses, parent’s might have responsability for a child, but they do not own the child.

So who should have the ultimate say in life saving treatment – the patient, the parents or the state?

14 Responses to “Do you have the right to refuse your children medical treatment?”

  1. 1 Chipie
    May 26, 2009 at 11:51

    Its really a matter of life or death to me, if the parents feel that they dont need their child to take medicine then be it but they must be prepared to live with the thought of “maybe it could have worked” as we might be aware that it has worked before.
    I believe that you have to give the best possible care to your children and this include the best possible treatment – if it fails then it fails but at least you have tried.

  2. 2 Nathan Xu- Hobart Australia
    May 26, 2009 at 12:23

    People always have right to choose what they want to do, however, I don’t believe people knows what they’ve choose to do is the best thing for them.

  3. 3 Jennifer
    May 26, 2009 at 14:43

    I don’t think one should deny their child the right to medical treatment. It is the parents’ obligation to make these decisions until the child is 18 years old. After age 18, it’s the patient’s choice. I don’t think the parents should have any say after that time except in certain circumstances. Not wanting your child to have potentially life saving intervention would be selfish!

  4. May 26, 2009 at 14:48

    Maybe she can’t afford the medical treatment.

  5. 5 steve
    May 26, 2009 at 15:13

    Chemotherapy is a highly toxic drug. It makes you so sick that you lose your hair and are constantly vomiting. Hence, it’s a poison. It can help your cancer, it can also kill you. If something where clear cut that it was only beneficial and your parents denied it to you, then perhaps the state should come in. But if they said that there was a certain chance that arsenic could help a condition, but it would make you incredibly ill as well, would you force it upon the child simply because it might work, but is assured to be hell for the child?

  6. 6 ~Rhoda in the United States
    May 26, 2009 at 16:13

    I do not think that a parent has the right to refuse a child medical treatment especially if the cure is there and the child has a chance to live a happy healthy life after treatment. It makes no matter what the child wants; childern are smart but they are still childern and even though they may seem to understand, most of them do not and they need guidence and understanding. I would never put my beliefs and wants above my childerns safty, parents do not do that kind of selfish act and if they do maybe they should quit having childern.

  7. 7 patti in cape coral
    May 26, 2009 at 17:30

    There are too many kooky, inept, abusive, and neglectful parents out there to leave the decisions exclusively to them.

  8. 8 Roberto
    May 26, 2009 at 17:34

    RE “” Do you have the right to refuse medical treatment? What’s the point in forcing someone to accept treatment? “”

    ——— There is a large segment of the medical community who feel they have the right to bankrupt honest citizens with their treatments as they price gouge frightened parents and sick children.

    I won’t comment on the circumstances of the Hauser family, but my heart and prayers go with them as the pressure is on them to make somebody’s correct choice as they struggle with a sick child..

    The AMA and the insurance industry are part of the axis of evil that is the bankruptcy story of this country.

    While I know that many honourable folk do work in the industry, the people running the beast and profiting from it earn my utter contempt of their humanity and honesty, not that matters to them one whit as they rake in money hand over fist daily.

  9. 9 gary
    May 26, 2009 at 18:07

    Children are not the property of their parents. Their human rights accrue solely from existence. For those invoking faith in a deity as reason for withholding a child’s reasonable medical treatment, the August Personage’s signature on the appropriate release form should be required. The rub of course is “reasonable.” To me, deaths resulting from withheld, well-proven therapies are murders. However, while “painful” is not a synonym for unreasonable, experimental may be.

  10. 10 Jennifer
    May 26, 2009 at 19:20

    Re: To me, deaths resulting from withheld, well-proven therapies are murders. However, while “painful” is not a synonym for unreasonable, experimental may be.

    I agree with this very much.

    However, I don’t think any state should be making decisions about a person’s medical treatment!

  11. 11 Tom D Ford
    May 26, 2009 at 19:35

    The UN Convention on The Rights of the Child applies.

    Religious wackos (I know, that is a redundancy) have a lot of rights and freedoms but they ought to be very limited in how they can abuse children.

  12. 12 Dennis Junior
    May 27, 2009 at 04:08

    So who should have the ultimate say in life saving treatment – the patient, the parents or the state?

    …I think that the type of matter: Should be left to the hands of the Patient and the parents and the state should STAY OUT….And allow the citizenry to make their own decisions….

    ~Dennis Junior~

  13. 13 Dennis Junior
    May 27, 2009 at 08:05

    In my earlier response: I have known many people who have had CHEMOTHERAPY for their cancer…And, its’ horrible on their body and (…) I think that Government in regards to the case in the United States should keep their noses out of the family affairs….

    -Dennis Junior-

  14. 14 Nette
    July 6, 2009 at 21:12

    I believe that a child old enough to understand right from wrong can also have a say in their own medical treatment, what if the treatment scares the parent but not the child. What if the child not understanding everything is scared of the treatment. I think when anyone refuses medical treatment they first must understand all options, financial, and outcomes. You here everyday on the TV medicines that will help with one thing but can cause nurmerous side effects. This must be understood but each person.

    As for someone that went through chemo myself, that is a decision that I would not wish upon any parent to make, either way you would have to watch your child struggle with either the disease or the treatment.

    I think if a parent and child is well educated in the diseases course and the treatment prognosis then it’s up to them on how to proceed. Not the rest of the world.

    As for loosing a child to any illness that is a pain that I would not want anyone to go through and it should be each families right to proceed with the decision they make. Not the government.

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