Posts Tagged ‘rights’

Religion, Medicine and Children

May 26, 2009

Currently in the news is the case of the Minnesota teenager, Daniel Hauser.  Daniel has Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  He received one treatment of chemotherapy before deciding to try treatment by alternative means, claiming religious belief inspired the change of treatment.  The court has become involved in the case. 

Historically, our country has been divided over how far we are willing to allow religion to dictate treatment of children with curable conditions.  Jehovah Witnesses have often made the news with their refusal of receiving blood transfusions.  Recently, in the courts there have been cases where parents felt that prayer and faith were all that were needed for their children to be healed. 

At the core of this problem is that we are struggling over freedoms, rights and responsibility.  How far do we allow religious freedom to dictate action?  Does a child have a right to the statistically most successful treatment?  Do parents have final responsibility for the welfare of a child, or does the State?   To what extent are we willing to allow religious freedom to dictate the medical treatment of children?  Are we willing to undermine personal freedom, parental authority, and entire religious communities ways of life?  Does society have the right to demand compliance?  These are questions that are not easily answered.  We should think carefully before we take action as the decisions may have far reaching implications.