Saturday, July 22, 2006

Government-forced medical treatment

A sixteen year old boy in Virginia decided, with his parent’s support and supervised by a clinic in Mexico, to use alternative medicine to treat his cancer. Yesterday a judge overruled his decision and required him to “report to a hospital by Tuesday and accept treatment that doctors deem necessary” (AP).

Personally, I think this family’s decision is misguided at best, and the issue is complicated by the fact that the boy is not yet eighteen. But this is not a case in which parents are keeping medical treatment from a young child. Nor is is a case in which the parents are fighting the decision of their teenage son. Wouldn't it be better, in this case, for the government just to butt out. In cases like this, do we really want government interfering in personal medical decisions?


Kevin said...

This is the most infuriating disgusting case I've seen in a long time. The government has completely overstepped their bounds. Completely! The act itself is a violation of the boy's freedom, of the parent's rights, and is a signal of how far the government has come in overstepping its bounds and taking freedom from us.

Freedom means freedom to be stupid. They have the freedom to make idiotic decisions and to suffer the consequences for those decisions. These parents are dumb, but that doesn't give the government any right to take over and make decisions on how the boy should be treated.

Note, that the cancer treatment is likely to be more painful and physically traumatizing than the phsyical experience most detainees have at Gitmo. So it's not ok to subject non-US citizens to sever physical pain and suffering (it isn't, I agree) in an effort to produce a positive outcome for many people... but it is ok to subject a US citizen against their will to physical pain and suffering in an effort to bring a positive outcome to one person.


Robert said...

It's also important to remember that nothing is every 100%. We have not yet progressed to a point at which we can guarantee the removal of lymphatic cancers. This means that the boy could undergo some very physically painful treatments only to die anyway. While I do agree that the alternative medicine treatment (basically herbs and vitamins) seems like a fools errand, shouldn’t people have the right to pursue that treatment?

I am somewhat torn on when to intervene and when not to. Clearly the boy is a minor and probably does not have the experience necessary to make an informed and logical decision. The parents are idiots. How far do we go before we say that stupidity constitutes neglect enough for the government to intervene? In this case, it seems the government has interferred. However, it does beg the question, "When is it okay to interfere (relating to medical treatment)?" Is there ever a situation?