Wednesday, May 20, 2009

No Easy Answers-Many Questions: The Hauser Family

By Cathy of Alex

For the last few weeks, in Minnesota, the local news has reported on a Sleepy Eye, Minnesota family, the Hausers, that refuse to consent to their 13-year old son, Daniel, receiving chemotherapy for his lymphoma. 13-year old, Daniel, was most articulate and adamant in a news program that interviewed him that he does not want the chemo either. Daniel stated that the decision to refuse chemo is not being forced upon him by his parents. A court ruled that Daniel, as a minor, must receive the chemo. State statute in Minnesota requires that parents must provide necessary medical care for their child.

We've all seen cases like this before; most notably in Christian Scientists. However, the Hausers are not Christian Scientists, they are, reportedly, Roman Catholics.

However, they also say they are practitioners of Nemenhah which is, reportedly, a Native American spirituality. I'm a Native American, and I've never heard of it. I had to look it up. They have a website here. They call themselves a "band" and an organization of healers. The Nemenhah are NOT a federally recognized tribe and they don't claim to be. They appear to me to be solely a "band" (not in the way I, as a Native American, may define band) meaning a group of like-minded people united thru their natural healing methods. The members are diverse and nationwide. Some appear to be Native Americans from federally recognized tribes, others are not.

Yesterday, Daniel and his mother, Colleen, fled after a court-ordered doctor appointment. The appointment revealed that Daniel's condition is worsening. Reportedly, their father, Anthony, does not know where they are. Currently, a nationwide arrest warrant has been issued because by fleeing the treatment they are in contempt of court because the court mandated the treatment.

In this day and age there is a lot of court ordered meddling into life/death issues going on.

Leaving aside the unwiseness of mixing and matching belief systems into a "New Age" mishmash that this family appears to have lived, the issues raised by this case are many. Yes, he's a minor, but what if the family wanted treatment for him but the only treatment offered was thru a facility that was funded by Planned Parenthood and their Roman Catholic beliefs meant they did not want treatment there? They are willing to travel for care to a facility more palatable to their beliefs but the court refuses to allow them to do so. Then, what? Who's to say whether one form of treatment is better than another? The court will decide for you. We have laws that codify alternative medicine can be used to compliment mainstream medicine. What if he'd rather see a Shaman than a doctor? In some states insurance has to pay for alternative practitioners same as a mainstream doc. What if he wants to smoke pot to alleviate his pain and take his prescribed meds? In some localities you can. What if you are an adult and you make a decision to stop treatment for a condition that will kill you or debilitate you and decide to just leave it "to the Lord"? Is a court going to run in and tell you that you have to keep the treatment going due to issues of expense to society to care for you, or that your belief system is not a good enough justification?

The statute says parents must provide necessary medical care for their child. I'm curious what the ramifications of that are on parents that have no insurance or the insurance they have is not adequate to cover the condition the child may have? Can a family be imprisoned for not hospitalizing a child because they can't afford it? I wonder what is defined as "necessary" medical care. If verbiage like that is in statute than why do so many lack insurance? If the state mandates care, than they should pay for it. (I know, I hear you howling. I don't like the thought of state-run mandated insurance either-but think about it isn't that what it's saying?) Will it be a crime to not have insurance or a means to pay for medical care? Hmmm... seem to recall reading in some insurance law proposals in recent memory that propose to mandate that everyone MUST have insurance.

I wonder why society can't seem to make up it's mind. On one hand, society wants to kill as many babies in the womb under the guise of "rights" but, yet, here is a young man who, while not at any time saying he wants to die, wants the right to treat himself according to his belief system. Yes, he's a minor but we try minors as adults in court. At some point, in those cases, a decision was made that the defendant had the maturity in his actions to be treated as an adult.

It's a scary time to be an embryo, or an elder, or a chronically ill, or disabled person. All of them are targets for death. If you are already here, you better do all you can to be healthy and not be a drag on the system. Elders and the sick and the disabled drag us down so they need to go. The courts have, graciously, allowed euthanasia to help them go. Will there be a point where courts start ordering death? Oh, wait, they've already done that. Terri Schiavo's family wanted to care for her, but a court stepped in and demanded her death. Die slowly and painfully she did as her family was forced to stand by and watch helplessly.

Has anyone noticed that, increasingly, our court system is becoming a Logan's Run tribunal deciding who gets to live and who gets to die? Is that what justice is or should be?

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