Doctors vs. parents: Can parents refuse chemo treatment for son?


If your teenage son had one of the most curable forms of cancer and you refused traditional treatment methods through chemotherapy and radiation, are you endangering your child?

The Brown County attorney has filed a petition claiming a family's choice to not put their son through chemo for Hodgkin's lymphoma is child neglect and endangerment. Attorney James Olson hopes the judge will order the parents to go through with the treatment.

But here's the crux of the debate: The family says the cancer treatment through chemo violates their religious beliefs. The family has opted for more alternative and natural therapies like herbs and vitamins.

Can the courts overstep a family's religious beliefs to potentially save a child's life?

The case has brought out a slew of alternative medicine advocates who support the family's decision. But doctors say Daniel Hauser, 13, would have a 95 percent chance of survival with chemo treatment. That drops to 50 percent or less if left untreated.

The family is part of the Nemenhah, an American Indian religious organization. The family does not claim to be Indian.

Daniel filed an affidavit defending his parent's decision, reported in the Star Tribune.

"I am opposed to chemotherapy because it is self-destructive and poisonous," he told the court. "I want to live a virtuous life, in the eyes of my creator, not just a long life."
The attorney fighting against the family says this has now become a state issue to protect the child.
"There's a fine line between parental rights to do what parents feel [is] in the best interest of their children, and the state's right," Olson said Thursday. "In this case, we've claimed we have a compelling state interest in protecting this young man."
Does the state have the right to step in against a parent's will and require particular treatments for life threatening illnesses in children?