I want to start up a discussion. When I was at work today, I ran across this article:
Judge Rules Family Can't Refuse Chemo for Boy
If you don't want to read the entire story, I'll give you a recap: a judge ruled that a family must seek conventional medical treatment for their son, who has Hodgkin's Lymphoma. The family was pursuing alternative medical treatments as prescribed by the Nemenhah Band, which seems to be a religious/spiritual group that advocates natural supplements and treatments to heal disease rather than conventional Western medicine. The boy is 13 years old.
I've actually seen several stories like this in the news lately: a family rejects Western medicine for their children due to spiritual or religious beliefs, are taken to court by child protection workers for abuse and "medical neglect", and are forced to seek modern medical attention.
I am appalled that the government stripped these people of their First Amendment right to freedom of religion. The government is forcing these people to go against their spiritual/religious beliefs, which is completely wrong, and completely unconstitutional. Plus, I abhor it when the government tells people how to raise their children.
In this 13-year-old boy's case, he reportedly has a 90% chance of survival with chemotherapy and radiation but only a 5% chance without those treatments. There is quite a drastic difference in those odds. I am firmly of the belief that medical advances are for our good, and, therefore, ordained of God (see my earlier post with a similar vein). I think his parents are jeopardizing his life for the sake of their religious/spiritual beliefs. Since this boy is a minor, his parents are still primarily responsible for making his medical decisions, so, in this instance, they very literally hold his life in their hands. Even if he were allowed to make his own medical decisions, he is still young and impressionable. It's not likely he would have considered other options besides the one his parents have prescribed. I don't think any child should die of a treatable disease because his/her parents make the choice for him/her to forgo medical treatment.
So on one hand, I disagree with the judge...but on the other, I completely agree.
Many people are so blindly motivated by their religious/spiritual beliefs that they abandon all logic and common sense to follow them (see the Heaven's Gate movement for an example). My question is, when should the government step in and save people from harming themselves (or their children!) due to extreme religious/spiritual beliefs? And, who declares what is harmful? After all, I'm sure many people would classify Mormonism as harmful, to a degree, and I would hate to see the government step in to "save" me. Plus, if the government starts invalidating religions for the sake of their followers, what's to say they won't prohibit religion altogether?
So, I'm having a hard time reconciling these ideas. What does everyone else think?