Judge Rules Family Can't Refuse Chemo for Boy

I posted earlier this week and Gaytor posted last week, about Daniel Hauser, the thirteen-year-old boy in Minnesota with Hodgkin's lymphoma who is refusing chemotherapy for religious reasons.

Innuendo on a few sites this week has indicated that Daniel is well below the IQ average for other thirteen-year-olds at his school. And this article has the confirmation: "Court filings also indicated Daniel has a learning disability and can't read." So even if you were to speculate that a thirteen-year-old might be able to make to intelligent and cognitive choices; it appears that Daniel is not at an intellectual level with other thirteen-year-olds.

Judge rules family can't refuse chemo for boy
By AMY FORLITI, Associated Press Writer, Posted 15MAY2009
A Minnesota judge ruled Friday that a 13-year-old cancer patient must be evaluated by a doctor to determine if the boy would benefit from restarting chemotherapy over his parents' objections. In a 58-page ruling, Brown County District Judge John Rodenberg found that Daniel Hauser has been "medically neglected" by his parents, Colleen and Anthony Hauser, and was in need of child protection services.
While he allowed Daniel to stay with his parents, the judge gave the Hausers until Tuesday to get an updated chest X-ray for their son and select an oncologist.

If the evaluation shows the cancer had advanced to a point where chemotherapy and radiation would no longer help, the judge said, he would not order the boy to undergo treatment.

The judge wrote that Daniel has only a "rudimentary understanding at best of the risks and benefits of chemotherapy. ... he does not believe he is ill currently. The fact is that he is very ill currently."

Daniel's court-appointed attorney, Philip Elbert, called the decision unfortunate.

"I feel it's a blow to families," he said. "It marginalizes the decisions that parents face every day in regard to their children's medical care. It really affirms the role that big government is better at making our decisions for us."

Elbert said he hadn't spoken to his client yet. The phone line at the Hauser home in Sleepy Eye in southwestern Minnesota had a busy signal Friday. The parents' attorney had no immediate comment but planned to issue a statement.

Daniel was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma and stopped chemotherapy in February after a single treatment. He and his parents opted instead for "alternative medicines" based on their religious beliefs.

Child protection workers accused Daniel's parents of medical neglect; but in court, his mother insisted the boy wouldn't submit to chemotherapy for religious reasons and she said she wouldn't comply if the court orders it.

Doctors have said Daniel's cancer had up to a 90 percent chance of being cured with chemotherapy and radiation. Without those treatments, doctors said his chances of survival are 5 percent.

Daniel's parents have been supporting what they say is their son's decision to treat the disease with nutritional supplements and other alternative treatments favored by the Nemenhah Band.

The Missouri-based religious group believes in natural healing methods advocated by some American Indians.

After the first chemotherapy treatment, the family said they wanted a second opinion, said Dr. Bruce Bostrom, a pediatric oncologist who recommended Daniel undergo chemotherapy and radiation.

They later informed him that Daniel would not undergo any more chemotherapy. Bostrom said Daniel's tumor shrunk after the first chemotherapy session, but X-rays show it has grown since he stopped the chemotherapy.

"My son is not in any medical danger at this point," Colleen Hauser testified at a court hearing last week. She also testified that Daniel is a medicine man and elder in the Nemenhah Band.

The family's attorney, Calvin Johnson, said Daniel made the decision himself to refuse chemotherapy, but Brown County said he did not have an understanding of what it meant to be a medicine man or an elder.

Court filings also indicated Daniel has a learning disability and can't read.

The Hausers have eight children. Colleen Hauser told the New Ulm Journal newspaper that the family's Catholicism and adherence to the Nemenhah Band are not in conflict, and that she has used natural remedies to treat illness.

Nemenhah was founded in the 1990s by Philip Cloudpiler Landis, who said Thursday he once served four months in prison in Idaho for fraud related to advocating natural remedies.

Landis said he founded the faith after facing his diagnosis of a cancer similar to Daniel Hauser. He said he treated it with diet choices, visits to a sweat lodge and other natural remedies.

Colleen Hauser has publicly stated she will not comply with any court orders; so we'll have to wait and see what happens now.

Views: 24

Comment by Johnny on May 15, 2009 at 4:21pm
This quote from his attorney, Philip Elbert, is horrible: "I feel it's a blow to families. It marginalizes the decisions that parents face every day in regard to their children's medical care. It really affirms the role that big government is better at making our decisions for us."

No. It affirms that science knows more about medical care than religion does; and sadly takes the government stepping in to 'convince' the parents of which side produces results.
Comment by Gaytor on May 15, 2009 at 4:27pm
I'll drink to that! Now I have an excuse!
Comment by CJoe on May 15, 2009 at 5:20pm
I agree, Johnny... I think the quote you cited was the one that really grabbed my attention, too. Ya know, I get annoyed with "big government" like anyone else, but this is so beyond that. Where are the Pro Lifers now? Where are the people who oppose assisted suicide? It baffles me that anyone in their right mind would think a 13 year, no matter their IQ, had the wherewithal to decide to forgo treatment. If he's not allowed to choose to serve in the military before 18 years old, he shouldn't be allowed to choose to die for his PARENT'S religion, either.
Comment by Misty: Baytheist Living! on May 15, 2009 at 5:22pm
Great points, Cara!
Comment by Misty: Baytheist Living! on May 15, 2009 at 5:22pm
Johnny, this is now featured!
Comment by Dave G on May 15, 2009 at 5:26pm
I think that one summation I saw is probably accurate. They didn't have any religious objection to proper medical treatment until after the first chemo session. Then, after they saw their son ill from the chemo (And even mild chemo has bad side effects), then they suddenly pulled the religion card.
Comment by Morgan Matthew on May 16, 2009 at 7:19pm

Comment by mrs kelligurl on May 17, 2009 at 12:13pm
I must say that as a mommy who loves her children more than life itself, I cannot comprehend not doing everything possible for my daughters lives even if there was only a 1% chance at survival. This is just heartbreaking to me, as a mom and as a human. I wouldn't allow a 13yr old to make the decision to move out on his/her own, get a job, get a credit card, have a car, make babies, etc....so why would you let a 13 yr old make the decision to die for his parents distorted beliefs; now you can throw in the fact that Daniel has learning disabilities that places him behind the power curve on par with his peers. I hate that it takes a court process to force parents to get help for their children...ughh..disgusting. Did I read that right, did Daniel's mom really testify that he (Daniel) the 13 yr old under IQ boy is a medicine man and a elder in the Nenenhah Band??????

Well, I guess I'm going to withdraw my membership application (sarcasm)...I don't think I'm taking medical advice from a 13 yr old of any IQ...and elder????....case in point of the mothers IQ as well!
Comment by Johnny on May 19, 2009 at 4:43pm
Doctors face tough task with boy who refuses chemo
A 13-year-old boy's vow to resist chemotherapy by punching or kicking anyone who tries to force it on him will present doctors with a tough task if they can't change his mind. A judge was due Tuesday to hear the results of his order that Daniel Hauser undergo a chest X-ray and his family pick an oncologist to be treated for Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Daniel and his parents stopped chemotherapy after one treatment and opted for"alternative medicines," prompting Brown County authorities to intervene. The cancer is regarded as highly curable with chemotherapy and radiation, but is likely fatal without it.

Daniel was scheduled for an X-ray Monday. His attorneys couldn't confirm he kept the appointment, and calls to the Hauser home in Sleepy Eye rang unanswered.

"It can be very difficult to treat a 13-year-old boy who doesn't want to be treated," said Arthur Caplan, chair of the medical ethics department at the University of Pennsylvania."I don't want to say it's impossible, but it makes it very tough on the doctors."

Last week, Brown County District Judge John Rodenberg ruled that Daniel's parents, Colleen and Anthony Hauser, were medically neglecting him.

Rodenberg said if a new X-ray showed a good prognosis, chemotherapy and possible radiation appeared to be in his best interest. Chemotherapy would not be ordered if the cancer was too advanced.

If chemotherapy was ordered and the family refused, Daniel would be placed in temporary custody. It wasn't immediately known where the boy might be treated or how medicine would be administered if he fights it.

Caplan said the medical community recognized a person's right to refuse treatments _ but those rights didn't extend to incompetent people or children. Still, he said:"It is hard to treat someone who won't cooperate." Restraints could be used.

Officials at some Minnesota hospitals that treat cancer in children described several methods they would try to break through the boy's resistance.

Dr. Steven Miles, a professor of medicine and bioethics at the University of Minnesota Center for Bioethics, said a hospital may assign a companion to a child, or administer a sedative to relieve anxiety. Sometimes foster homes catering to medically ill children can help by providing a loving environment and education about what the child needs.

"The kid says he's not sick and the mom says she'll treat it if it's an emergency," Miles said of the Hauser case."With cancer, if it's an emergency, it's too late."

In court testimony earlier this month, doctors familiar with Daniel's case said they would have a hard time administering chemotherapy to Daniel if he resisted.

Dr. Bruce Bostrom, a pediatric oncologist at Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, and Dr. Vilmarie Rodriguez, a pediatric hematologist and oncologist from the Mayo Clinic, both testified their hospitals had child life specialists and psychologists to help children work through their fears.

Children's also has an integrative medicine program to help patients deal with the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation, with such techniques as massage, acupuncture, aromatherapy, or music therapy.

Brian Lucas, a spokesman at Children's, said ethics experts met Monday to make sure everyone was up to speed on Daniel's case and plan for any possibility.

Caplan said he believed the judge made the right decision.

"This case falls, for me, squarely in the'You've gotta get him treated' camp," Caplan said."If it's not life and death, you might not push so hard. If it's not a proven treatment ... you wouldn't push so far."

But doctors may not have to follow the court order"if they feel it can't be carried out _ if it's literally impossible to get a needle into this kid," Caplan said.

Dr. Susan Sencer, medical director of the pediatric hematology and oncology program at Children's, said incorporating natural healing techniques into medical care can help. And educating parents is a big part of treatment.

"Cancer is the scariest word in our vocabulary and to hear that your child has cancer just shakes you to your very foundation," Sencer said.

Part of the job of the oncologist, she said, is to help families make sense of what is essentially a"fluke of nature."
Arrest ordered for mom of boy, 13, resisting chemo
A Minnesota judge has issued an arrest warrant 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 is ordering that Daniel Hauser be placed in protective custody so he can get proper medical treatment for Hodgkins lymphoma.

Daniel and his parents, Colleen and Anthony Hauser, were due in court Tuesday to tell the judge results of a chest X-ray. But only Anthony Hauser appeared in court.

He told Rodenberg that he last saw Colleen Hauser on Monday evening, and she told him she was leaving. He said that was all he knew.

The family's doctor, James Joyce, testified that Daniel's tumor has grown and he needs immediate assessment by a pediatric cancer doctor.
Comment by Johnny on May 20, 2009 at 9:24am
Just saw a blurb on the news this morning that the arrest was made. Don't see any updates online yet though.


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