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Akron Univ. School of Law

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Making Medical Decisions for Children

The Associated Press reports on the on-going conflict between doctors and family members in a case involving a child with cancer who does not wish to continue with chemotherapy.  Amy Forliti writes,

A judge issued an arrest warrant Tuesday for the mother of a 13-year-old boy resisting chemotherapy after the pair missed a court hearing on his welfare. Brown County District Judge John Rodenberg also ordered that Daniel Hauser be placed in protective custody so he can get proper medical treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma.

The cancer is considered highly curable with proper treatment, but Daniel quit chemo after a single treatment and with his parents opted instead for "alternative medicines," citing religious beliefs. That led authorities to seek custody. Rodenberg last week ruled that Daniel's parents, Colleen and Anthony Hauser, were medically neglecting their son. . . .

In his ruling last week, Rodenberg wrote that he would not order chemotherapy if Daniel's prognosis was poor. But if the outlook was good, it appeared chemotherapy and possibly radiation was in the boy's best interest, he wrote. Daniel's lymphoma was diagnosed in January, and six rounds of chemotherapy were recommended. Daniel underwent one round in February but stopped after that single treatment. He and his parents sought other opinions, but the doctors agreed with the initial assessment.  Colleen Hauser testified at the earlier hearing that her son "is not in any medical danger." She said she had been treating his cancer with herbal supplements, vitamins, ionized water and other natural alternatives.

Rodenberg wrote that state statutes require parents to provide necessary medical care for a child. The statutes say alternative and complementary health care methods aren't enough. He also wrote that Daniel, who cannot read, did not understand the risks and benefits of chemotherapy and didn't believe he was ill. Daniel testified that he believed the chemo would kill him and told the judge in private testimony unsealed later that if anyone tried to force him to take it, "I'd fight it. I'd punch them and I'd kick them." . . . .


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