UPDATE: Court Sides With Amish Family

UPDATE: Court Sides With Amish Family, 10.0 out of 10 based on 6 ratings
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Boy, I am glad I don’t have to weigh in on the decisions in this case.  In a nutshell: a conservative Ohio Amish family has decided to stop chemotherapy treatments for their 10-year-old daughter.  The daughter will probably die within a year without chemo.  If she continues with chemo, she will likely live. These are the facts as they are being reported, so that is all I have to go on.  I’m a huge fan of holistic remedies like vitamins, healthy diet, etc. But the stark reality is that if a combination of that would beat back cancer, then cancer wouldn’t be so scary.

On the other hand, I hate the idea of the government usurping parental decisions and forcing medical care on anyone. I think it sets a bad precedent.  Yet so does letting a child die unnecessarily, although the Amish faith would generally say that she has passed on to a better place and that is God’s will. And we do have religious freedom in this country. Compelling reasons to leave the family alone.

Yet, the Amish are Anabaptists…the whole premise that their faith is built upon is that children can’t choose their religion, they can’t make such an important decision at such a young age. So they embrace adult baptism (Anabaptism) as way for a person to have a say as to what faith they should follow. I know the girl hates the way the chemo treatment makes her feel, but there are a lot of things parents do for the good of their children. Many children dislike eating their vegetables, but the parents make them because there is a long term net gain. Should courts make children eat their Brussels sprouts?,  I think we can all agree that that would be a ridiculous government overreach. But chemo to save a child from dying of cancer?   I lean towards court-enforced chemo.  But it’s a tough call and I think reasonable people can disagree. What are your thoughts?  Read the latest here.

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The Discussion

  1. Years ago I watched a beautiful young girl “die” from cancer treatment. At the age of 3 she was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma. Before she was diagnosed she was a happy and beautiful girl that smiled and laughed all the time. Once she started treatments that young girl “died”. She rarely smiled and she was so sick from the treatments she would sleep most of the time and cry a lot. Even though she was given radiation, chemo and she received a bone marrow transplant she died when she was 9 years old. I think of what those 6 years were like for her and all that loved her. Would it have been better to let her live only a few months and be happy or continue with the treatment all those years and see her so sick just from the treatments?
    I have also seen my brother so ill from cancer treatments that last few weeks of his life he would sleep most of the time and was so ill that the happy brother and man I knew was gone, just like the little girl.
    In my opinion I don’t think that this decision is wrong. She has tried chemo and most likely other treatments but in the end it is making her more ill than if she was not to have the treatments. It should be a parents decision to stop treatment if the doctors have tried all options and it is not slowing down or curing the cancer.

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    • Michele, very articulate post and you make compelling points about whether to strive for quality of life vs. quantity…tough, tough case…

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  2. Age her age, the girl should decide about having chemo or not. She knows she may die no matter what the treatment. All life is a risk. The best quality of life is what she chose. The hospital has no right to take over someone’s life because they feel they know better. I’ve known a number of people in their 40s that chose no treatment. I am glad the court let this family be.

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  3. I think the parents should have the final say. I really believe if chemo would save her and they say no, we have an all powerful, miracle working God. Let’s not limit His say in this.

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