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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/5359/government-forces-teenager-to-get-chemotherapy/

Government Forces Teenager to Get Chemotherapy

July 21, 2006 by

My wife came across this story. A 16-year-old with cancer wanted to discontinue his chemotherapy because it nauseated him. A concerned social worker got the State awarded partial custody and is now forcing the silly lad to do what’s good for him. I think I’m sick.

{ 34 comments }

RPM July 21, 2006 at 9:59 pm

The thing that’s really infuriating is that the couple has been ordered to give their “legal consent” for the treatment. It’s bad enough that the government is forcing them to bring the kid to the hospital. But it’s also forcing them to “agree” to it!

M E Hoffer July 21, 2006 at 10:52 pm

Not that the whole story is seemingly rife with contradictions, though, how is it that the child of “neglectful” parents is ordered to stay with them(the parents)(?).

Exactly how deep does the doctrine of “in loco parentis” cut?

J. Cereghin July 21, 2006 at 11:43 pm

Welcome to Amerika, where the Courts know what is best for you, whether you like it or not. But then again, Virginia is not exactly known for its liberty. It can be one of the most repressive states at times. I do believe the young man said earlier that he will not comply with the court order. What will they do- strap him to a gurney and force him to take the chemo?

Jorge Valín July 22, 2006 at 12:59 am

The attorney’s declarations are absolutly true:

“I want to caution all parents of Virginia: Look out, because Social Services may be pounding on your door next when they disagree with the decision you’ve made about the health care of your child”

Manuel Lora July 22, 2006 at 6:39 am

These are the things perfect for some civil (and uncivil) disobedience. The judge is now the owner of that kid’s body.

John July 22, 2006 at 9:31 am

How frightening is this story? America, what happened to you? When we allow government to remove that most fundamental of rights – that we own our own bodies – the path to downfall is surely our course.

Lisa Casanova July 22, 2006 at 11:50 am

ME Hoffer,
Perhaps the court recognized that making a kid undergo chemo totally alone, without his family there to hold him up, would be horrific. At least I hope someone thought of that.

Frank N Stein July 22, 2006 at 2:10 pm

I thought I had become inured to tales of government oppression. Then I read this. If there was any justice in this world, the State would leave that child and his parents alone, and place that social worker in chains.

Curt Howland July 22, 2006 at 2:17 pm

As soon as government took upon itself the power to define what people are _allowed_ to put in their bodies, like drug and alcohol prohibition, prescription drug laws, licensing of pharmacists, this development was merely a matter of time.

No different than forced immunizations, floradated water, Prozac and Ritalin in the compulsory “public” schools.

The fact that anyone here is surprised, is what surprises me.

M E Hoffer July 22, 2006 at 4:13 pm

Lisa,

Isn’t that what the family, and the child, were trying to avoid, in the first place?

Bad Shift July 22, 2006 at 10:36 pm

To make matters worse, a physician who believes a child needs medical treatment, but whose parents refuse consent, can be held liable for criminal charges for failure to report suspected abuse. At least this is true in California, where I practice.

Marco July 23, 2006 at 12:13 pm

Suppose a doctor told you that this family’s decision amounts to suicide, that is, he has good chances of beating his cancer with conventional chemotherapy, but none whatsoever in the quack Mexican clinic, would you still be of the same opinion?

Lisa Casanova July 23, 2006 at 12:37 pm

ME,
Yes, and I think it’s terrible that he’s being forced to do it. What I meant to say is that given that they’re going to force him to do it anyway, making him do it in a foster home surrounded by strangers would be even worse. Maybe that’s why they let him stay with his parents even though the court has legally declared them neglectful.

Michael Robb July 23, 2006 at 12:55 pm

One of the most successul Mexican Cancer Clinic treatments is an entirely natural preparation collected and packaged by a small family firm in a Western American state.

Naturally, the product is banned by the gov’t for use or sale in the United State. The boy should resist being pushed around by ignorant bureaucrats, greedy politicians, and corrupt courts, and defend himself in appeals to reason and non-violent civil disobedience.

In other words, he should pretend he is an American, living in a free country. Then Hollywood would have to call.

In the meantime he could consider the prospects of hiring an agent, writing a book, emmigrating to sojurn in a free country, — many of which are not very far away; or moving out of town where his mail can be delivered without incident.

Frank N Stein July 23, 2006 at 1:01 pm

Marco,

The child in question already went through a round of chemotherapy, and did not wish to go through it again. That a medical ‘professional’ might consider that course of action suicide, is irrelevant to the fact that the State has no right to impose its will on that child or the parents.
No amount of legislation can capture the complexity that is real life. And if the law that prevents parents from keeping their child in a basement, tortured day and night, is the same law that is ripping this child away from his parents to undergo “treatment” they want no part of…well then I have no respect for those who consider laws more important than individual sovereignty.
Life is short, for some unfortunately shorter than others. And certainly too short to abide oppression by fascists who know better than yourself how you should live your life.

M E Hoffer July 23, 2006 at 1:13 pm

Lisa,

I heard that, in the first. I had thought that you might have gone back and picked up this message: “The attorney’s declarations are absolutly true:

“I want to caution all parents of Virginia: Look out, because Social Services may be pounding on your door next when they disagree with the decision you’ve made about the health care of your child”

To me, if we are to concede to the State’s declaration, in any circumstance, of “neglect/negligence”, it should only be of the “strict” variety. This case, obviously, is not that. We see the State putting the “individual” back into the environment from which he came. Barring the adherence to “strict” doctrine, the door opens to the plain upon which, the Attorney’s warning well rides.

And, this: “The boy should resist being pushed around by ignorant bureaucrats, greedy politicians, and corrupt courts, and defend himself in appeals to reason and non-violent civil disobedience. In other words, he should pretend he is an American, living in a free country.”– to me, seems to be advice, and appropriate.

The “judge” should duly receive a sack of beachfront and a fine hammer.

M E Hoffer July 23, 2006 at 1:19 pm

sorry, and I hear the compassion, and it’s well noted. Though, if we give quarter to this type of State action we’ll wind up with much less than just fewer dollars.

Lisa Casanova July 23, 2006 at 3:44 pm

Maybe this case will make people think about our doctrine of treating a 16-year-old like a small child. If he keeps resisting, in the end, someone (or several people) will have to find him, drag him into the hospital, hold down an adult-sized young man and shove a chemo needle in his arm. You can bet those same people will not be the ones holding his head while he pukes afterward. The thought should make anybody’s skin crawl.

Marco July 23, 2006 at 4:06 pm

Frankenstein:

The child in question already went through a round of chemotherapy, and did not wish to go through it again. That a medical ‘professional’ might consider that course of action suicide, is irrelevant to the fact that the State has no right to impose its will on that child or the parents.

Precisely, but the question I am asking is: would you be of the same opinion if the parents and the child had decided on a course of action which was obviously suicidal? Say, a 15 year old gets bitten by a dog with rabies. You don’t have to be a doctor to know that at this point either the child is treated quickly or he dies a slow and very painful death. Suppose this happened a few years ago, when the only way to administer the rabies vaccine was through painful injections in the stomach. The boy doesn’t want to do it, and the parents agree with him. They book a place in a Mexican clinic where he will be treated with green tea and ginseng enemas instead. Do you think it’s ok to let them do it, even though the child will most likely die a slow, painful death? (Personally, I do). I’m not even considering the – far more complex – case in which the child wants to do the therapy and the parents don’t want him to.
Everyone in this discussion seems to have jumped to the conclusion that the doctors are a bunch of ignoramuses who don’t know what they are doing. This is most likely not the case. HL used to be a virtual death sentence a few decades ago but nowadays most patients do recover with chemotherapy. However I think people should be free to choose, and if they prefer death to therapy then so be it… As long as the doctors make this clear, and the parents can’t sue them later for “not having tried hard enough” to persuade them.

Ryan Fuller July 23, 2006 at 6:26 pm

Whether or not chemo or their “alternative” medicine would be effective is completely beside the point. If the chemo were 100% effective and the alternative approach guaranteed death, it is still wrong to force the young man to take chemo. Forcing someone to save their own life against their own will is wrong. It is their own life to live or throw away as they desire.

punter July 23, 2006 at 6:29 pm

Marco,

The big problem with your argument (aside from it being paternalistic/fascistic) is that it rests on the assumption that chemotherapy (or vaccines or any other part of allopathic medicine) actually has any use whatsoever, except in as much as it forces deadly toxins into our bodies. The evidence has shown that chemo patients do not live longer than anybody else with cancer (indeed a lot less because the chemo often kills them) and it is inconceivable that vaccines could possibly have any use at all (how can use a virus that has been killed to stimulate the immune system when viruses were never alive to begin with?)

Fred Mann July 23, 2006 at 8:21 pm

I wonder if the judge has any ties to the pharmaceutical industry …

Marco July 24, 2006 at 4:48 am

Fred Mann: I wonder what exactly is “paternalistic/fascistic” about my argument, since I agree with everyone else that the state should not force this young man to do anything.

“The evidence has shown that chemo patients do not live longer than anybody else with cancer”

Post this “evidence” then, so we can take a look at it. In the meantime, I suggest you do a Google search on Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. You will find that, unlike other cancers, it has a relatively high survival rate.
By the way, nobody has answered my question about the young man bitten by a rabid dog.

Michael Robb July 24, 2006 at 5:46 am

I did not mean to be misunderstood as in any way disparaging the successful treatment used at the Mexican Cancer Clinics. The preparation is not an entirely simple one, and it has done good.

Secondly, it was a mistake to refer to the young man as a boy and I regret doing so.

As far as force is concerned, it would seem logical that the parents would be the ones to exert force over him. They did not. Neither should anyone else.

If the prognosis of CT for HL is so irresistible, one would expect the young man AND his parents to have been persuaded toward its efficacy; but they were not. Why was that?

Marco July 24, 2006 at 5:49 am

Sorry, I made a mistake: my answer should have been addressed to punter, not Fred Mann. I also note that Ryan Fuller did answer my question. He wrote

“Forcing someone to save their own life against their own will is wrong. It is their own life to live or throw away as they desire.”

I’m not too sure what is right and wrong. It could even be that if the child is cured against his will one day he will thank the people who forced him (and he’ll become an advocate of state intervention). The only reason why I don’t want this to happen is a selfish one: I don’t want a bunch of state officials coming round one day and telling me what to do.

Yancey Ward July 24, 2006 at 8:27 am

If a man is about to jump off a building while claiming the ability to fly like a bird, do you attempt to stop him?

Paul Edwards July 24, 2006 at 12:30 pm

Marco,

“I’m not too sure what is right and wrong. It could even be that if the child is cured against his will one day he will thank the people who forced him (and he’ll become an advocate of state intervention).”

I agree that right and wrong can sometimes be a sticky thing to work out. But one thing is always clear: what can and cannot be justified. Libertarian principles of self-ownership, private property ownership and the axiom of non-initiation of force is the only universally justifiable set of laws and institutions we can live by. If you cannot justify the initiation of force against someone, then it is ruled out in principle. Specifically, the price to pay for forcing someone to undergo chemotherapy is to undergo it one’s self at the very least.

Yancey’s scenario is easier for me personally. I might, in fact attempt to prevent the man from jumping on the grounds that if he charges me with aggression, damages may be considered small and my punishment will perhaps be to be prevented from jumping off a building myself. And i stand the respectable chance of him, or his family, at least, thanking me later for taking that risk.

Vince Daliessio July 25, 2006 at 9:59 am

Yancey;

“If a man is about to jump off a building while claiming the ability to fly like a bird, do you attempt to stop him?”

It is altogether a different moral matter for me to try to convince the man not to jump than it is for state power to come and force him not to.

Just as it would be morally right for me to try to convince the young man to resume his chemotherapy, but not for me as an agent of the state to bind him down and force it upon him.

Yancey Ward July 25, 2006 at 10:06 am

Vince,

And if the man is beyond reasoning, do you take action to physically prevent him from jumping?

V July 25, 2006 at 10:13 am

Again, probably yes, AS A MORAL INDIVIDUAL. There is still NO role for GOVERNMENT force. I would be totally liable for the result of my own intervention. I’m OK with that. The building owner would be just as interested, and probably would try to stop him too. Nowhere in this scenario is there a moral sanction for government to interfere.

And, by implication, the parents of the young man presumably love him more than anybody. It is their decision as to how much effort should be expended to persuade the young man to proceed with the treatment. It is NOT the role of government. A government social worker does not enter such a situation as an agent of compassion, but rather an agent of control.

Vince Daliessio July 25, 2006 at 10:17 am

I’m going to venture that government probably got involved in the issue of “suicide by gravity” by way of government ownership of streets and sidewalks.

Cindy Graham July 25, 2006 at 12:52 pm

Why is it our government says that a 16 yr old is not an adult and cannot make decisions about his own medical treatment but this same government can charge a 16 yr old as an adult for committing a murder?

Lisa Casanova July 25, 2006 at 1:17 pm

Cindy,
Our laws about when you’re an adult and when you’re a child are basically incoherent. Think about it- at 18 you can enlist in the army and fight wars, but you’re not mature enough to drink beer. It’s mostly what’s politically popular and expedient.

Yancey Ward July 26, 2006 at 11:04 am

I am not old enough to have experienced it, but in the past, a 16 year old would have been treated, and would have been expected to behave as an adult. What have we wrought in a society populated with so many childish 20 and 30 year olds.

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