Thursday, May 28, 2009

Parental Rights; Spousal Rights

I must admit, this story about the Minnesota teen whose parents were ordered to have him treated by chemotherapy bothers me. I would definitely have my child treated; however, this is not my child.

And that's the point: parents used to get to make the decisions about medical treatment for their minor children. And while the greater community might have disagreed, strongly, with their position, as long as the parents were acting in good faith, their decision about treatment was accepted.

Today, it's parents who initially declined treatment in favor of some "Native American/naturalistic" type treatment. Next it will be Jehovah's Witnesses who refuse human blood transfusions or Christian Scientists who bring in faith healers.

Contrast this with the decision made to end Terri Schiavo's life. Her husband decided to let her starve to death and his decision was upheld because he was her husband. He was not compelled to resume rehabilitation or to move her to a more stimulating environment. The state did not take custody of Ms. Schiavo. In fact, Congress and state legislators were condemned for interfering in a "family decision."

But it's okay for the state to interfere in a family decision in the case of the 13-year-old.

I recognize that the cases are medically different. Hodgkin's Lymphoma is treatable (one of DS#2's close friends is recovering from it); Ms. Schiavo's brain damage was permanent. Still, most family decisions should be left to the family, no matter how strongly we disagree.