For it is by grace you have been saved...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Continuing Demise of Parental Rights

While I’ve been watching the national/international issue of parental rights surrounding the UN Charter vs. Parental Rights Amendment, an interesting case has been developing right before our eyes.

Unless you’ve been out of the country the last couple weeks, you’ve no doubt read the story about young Daniel Hauser, a 13 year old Minnesota boy with Hodgkin's lymphoma. The doctors have told the family that this is a treatable cancer, but without chemotherapy, he will likely die. The family has said they would prefer other methods of treatment, apparently involving some mystical and home grown remedies. The issue went to court, and the courts have decided that the family must submit to the chemo.

Again, you’ve probably heard the story. Mom takes the boy and they go on the run for a week or so. The courts issue a warrant for her arrest, etc. Now they’ve returned and the warrant has been dropped and so on. Where it all goes from here remains to be seen.

I don’t know the whole story. I’m sure I would sharply disagree with the parent’s decision on this. It sounds as if they have some pretty confused theology/philosophy going on here. But here is the issue that concerns me: At what point does it become the concern of the “state” in matters such as this? Where do the parents lose the ability to decide which medical treatment is best for their own child?

I understand the concern for his well being, etc., but where do we draw the line? As a homeschooling parent, I see the writing on the wall with this. If it’s up to the state to decide what’s best for the welfare of this boy, it won’t be long until the same reasoning will be applied to public education. If the state feels it’s in the best interest of the child, for his health and well being, to be in government schools, then they will step in and force the issue through the courts (which has been tried by the way). This is a very disturbing issue. (for more “threats” to parental rights, read here)

Again, I don’t know all the facts here. And again, I would probably choose a different course of action. But this family should have the right to make these decision on their own.

We know a family who had a cancer diagnosis a couple years back. They purposely didn’t tell anyone at first because they chose to deal with it through “non-traditional” means at first, and they knew that others would judge them and try to “force” them into chemo, etc. Regardless of what I would have done in their situation, it’s not my choice; it’s theirs.

For a culture that is so focused on the issue of “choice” when it comes to slaughtering innocent children in the womb, we become strangely anti-choice when it comes to issues like this one. Why can a parent kill their unborn child, but when it comes to questions of health care, their "right to choose" is suddenly removed.

I’ll be praying for Daniel and his family. I’ll be praying for his health as well as his parents. Ultimately I pray God will send people into their life to share the Gospel of Christ with them, but I will also be praying that they have the wisdom to do what’s best for their family. I also will pray that the government will allow them to do what they feel is best, even if we don’t agree with it.

I’ll be very interested to see how this all plays out, and what precedents will be set by this case. This issue should concern us all. Where are the lines drawn? Where does the “state’s interest” come in? Where do parental rights end? How far will “Big Brother” go? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
Addendum: After posting this, I found that Al Mohler has also posted on this subject. He takes a slightly different approach, but voices someo the same concerns. Read his entry here.


Applied Christianity said...

This is an interesting issue that you have brought up. I have a friend that has "terminal" cancer and was predicted to die years ago. She went the normal route for a while but then changed her diet and did some alternative measures with far greater success. She credits God and the many prayers said on her behalf. Most people don't have a problem with an adult making these kinds of "risky" decisions. But when they involve kids the attitude changes. I have to side with the parents with this one. They have the right to seek the treatment they feel is appropriate even if the treatment seems kooky to the rest of us.

Applied Christianity said...

I have to add that I haven't really read or seen anything about the case you mention. Just in general I think that if the parents are providing treatment they should be allowed to do so. I do think the state should step in when the parents are not providing treatment. Just thought I should clarify.

scott said...

The trouble again is, who decides what "treatment" is. The family may define it one way, but the state another. It's just dangerous when the state begins getting overly aggressive in family life.

Applied Christianity said...

That is true. I guess in my mind I could invision a neglected kid who gets sick and the parent(s) don't even care or purposely allow the kid to worsen as a punishment or something. You are right. It is a slippery slope.