May 16th, 2009 05:23 EST
Minnesota Judge Overrides Parents' Objections To Son's Cancer Treatment
A judge in Minnesota ruled in favor of the state on Friday, overriding a 13-year-old`s parents` wishes to keep their son from receiving medical treatment. In the judge`s decision, the young cancer patient suffering from Hodgkin`s lymphoma is to be examinated by a physician to determine whether the child would aid from continuing his chemotherapy. The boy`s parents cite religious reasons behind their refusal in allowing medical practitioners to care for their seriously ill son.
In New Ulm, Brown County District Judge John Rodenberg concluded that Daniel Hauser was "medically neglected" by his parents, Anthony and Colleen Hauser, and should be remanded into the care of child protection services, though he didn`t revoke the Hausers` parental guardian status.
The part of Rodenberg`s judgment concerning whether the child`s parents may hold onto custody of Daniel hinges on their ability to get a current X-ray of his chest and to choose a oncologist by Tuesday.
"The state has successfully shown by clear and convincing evidence that continued chemotherapy is medically necessary," Judge Rodenberg wrote.
The judge also said that if the examination reveals the cancer is at a progressed stage where chemo or radiation therapy wouldn`t have a impact on his care, then he would decline issuing the mandatory treatment.
Disclosed in his 58-page verdict, Rodenberg explained how the 13-year-old possesses 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."
By Minnesota law, parents are prohibited from denying a child the medical attention they need, and clarify that herbal and alternative medicines in treatments are not enough by themselves.
Rodenberg poignantly addressed the court with: "If the Minnesota Legislature ever reconsiders the relevant statutes, I am confident that I join all of the others involved in this matter in hoping, and indeed in praying, that Daniel Hauser lives to testify at that hearing."
The judge mentioned both cases where the Hausers were responsible for medical neglect: one occurred on April 29th when the parents ignored the advice from one doctor for an oncologist to reevaluate Daniel`s case, while the other happened on May 7th when they disobeyed their family doctor`s decision to have the growth X-rayed. He also acknowledged the Hausers weren`t following the instructions from a medical professional in pursing orthodox cancer care since January, while getting second opinions on his condition in the meantime.
Philip Elbert, Daniel`s count-appointed attorney, regarded the court`s pronouncement as a setback for citizens` rights and how the judicial system should stay out of personal decisions.
"I feel it`s a blow to families," Elbert said. "It marginalizes the decision 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 admitted that he hasn`t talked with his client since the judgment was reached, due to the fact the Hauser`s phone was busy all day Friday at their home in Sleepy Eye, about 15 miles west of New Ulm in southwestern Minnesota. He denied commenting on the situation, but promised to make a statement very shortly.
Daniel Hauser was diagnosed with Hodgkin`s lymphoma in January and only received one session of chemotherapy in February before his parents halted further treatments. The Hausers instead elected to tend to Daniel`s illness with "alternative medicines": which did not conflict with their particular religious beliefs.
Child protective workers sided with the judge`s argument stating that by avoiding medical science, the parents` actions were in fact medical neglect and they should penalized some way.
Anthony and Colleen Hauser have eight children, all of whom are strict Roman Catholics like their parents and likewise follow the naturalistic doctrine of the Nemenhah Band which does not clash with their Christian beliefs, according to Colleen Hauser. She admitted that this was not the first time her family disregarded modern medicine to treat illnesses.
While defending her and her family`s belief system in court, Collen Hauser maintained that neither she nor Daniel would knowingly comply with the court`s ruling to obtain the proper care for the boy.
Testifying before the court, Daniel swore that the chemo would likely kill him. Responding to the state`s order to treat him involuntarily should he be eligible for the cancer treatments, he promised: "I`d fight it. I`d punch them and I`d kick them."
Mr. and Mrs. Hauser utterly approved of their son`s desire to medicate his condition with homeopathic methods and naturally occurring remedies that are championed by the Nemenhah Band, the religious sect to which the family belongs.
Founded in Missouri, the Nemenhah Band believes in the healing properties of herbal and other organic supplements that are frequently used among certain Native American tribes.
Dr. Bruce Bostrom, the pediatric oncologist at the Children`s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota who diagnosed Daniel, said that after hearing of his initial diagnosis and his recommendation for Daniel to go through more cancer treatments, the child`s parents wanted a second opinion before they decided on stopping his chemotherapy.
Bostrom also said that the tumor decreased in size following Daniel`s first and only chemotherapy session, but the last X-rays showed that the tumor has since grown after the chemotherapy ended.
Colleen Hauser claimed that the medical establishment was wrong in their view of how serious his condition really is.
"My son is not in any medical danger at this point," she stated before the judge during the court hearing last week.
The Hausers` lawyer, Calvin Johnson, felt that the court`s edict infringed on the rights of believers seeking the medical treatment which is accepted by their faith.
"The Hausers believe that the injection of chemotherapy into Danny Hauser amounts to an assault upon his body, and torture when it occurs over a long period of time," he said. "They believe that it is against the spiritual law to invade the consciousness of another person without their permission."
Johnson reiterated what Daniel`s mother had said in court saying her son was a medicine man and elder within the Nemenhah Band religious group.
As the judge declared though, Daniel Hauser doesn`t have the aptitude to completely understand his status in the group because Daniel has a learning disability and is illiterate. They both asserted that the choice not to receive traditional medical attention was entirely left up to Daniel, who has faithfully adopted his parents` religious views in Roman Catholicism and the Nemenhah Band.
Hodgkin`s lymphoma has a typical 90 percent rate for full recovery when the patient is being adequately treated with chemotherapy and radiation therapy. If the patient does not get the appropriate medical care he or she needs, then the patient`s survival rate drops to five percent.