Can the court force you to take medical treatments? This is the debate in Virginia right now. Starchild Abraham Cherrix is a 16 year old diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease. He has already went through one round of chemotherapy. He told his parents that he did not want to go through chemo again because of all the side effects. The family decided to pursue alternative therapy instead of another round of chemo.
In a shocking decision last week, the court ordered the teen to report to children's hospital to start chemo for his Hodgkin's disease. In addition, the court ruled the parents neglectful in allowing their son to make his own health decision -- Thereby, forcing the parents to share custody of their son with social services. I already have a problem with the legal system. But this story goes much deeper....
Government Intrusion: The government, through the court system, is going to tell patients what treatments to receive? It shouldn't matter what your political views are. This has got to bother you.
Alternative Therapy: The natural health bloggers are absolutely upset with this ruling and the possibility that seeking alternative therapy was a factor in the ruling. What if this family refused chemo in order to pursue a faith healer?
Parental Rights: How can parents be labelled neglectful after considering all treatment options and deciding to support their son? Some parents do not agree that immunizations are beneficial. If parents refuse their child to receive immunizations, are they neglectful? Can the court force immunizations on children? If a Jehovah's Witness refuses blood products for their child, are they neglectful? Can the court force blood transfusions? Who has final say in the care of children? The parent or the court?
Patient Rights: What's fascinating and troublesome at the same time is that if this patient were 18 years old, an adult, this would not be a news story at all. Adults have the right to refuse any and all treatment, even potentially life saving treatment. This is personified in the phrase Do Not Resuscitate. Hollywood glamorizes this decision making process in TV and movies. What's different about a 16 year old that the court has to step in? No matter what your political view, it is true that in some states 16 year old girls can consent to an abortion. Why can't a 16 year old guy refuse treatment?
Late Tuesday afternoon, the ruling was lifted and a trial date set for August 16th. The joint custody order was also lifted. What will happen next? I don't know, but this story may have huge medical and legal ramifications depending on how it plays out. Definitely a story to keep close watch on. What are your thoughts on this case?