November 30, 2013

"Our belief is the natural stuff will do just as much as that stuff if it's God's will."

Says the Amish man, who is hiding his daughter, who has lymphoblastic lymphoma.
"If we do chemotherapy and she would happen to die, she would probably suffer more than if we would do it this way and she would happen to die."

A court last month sided with the children’s hospital and appointed a guardian to make medical decisions for Sarah. Days before the ruling, the family took off from the small Amish community in Spencer, Ohio and headed for Central America to pursue holistic methods at a natural cancer treatment center.
Right after that, in the linked Daily News article, there's a photograph of a horse-drawn hay wagon.  I don't think they "took off... for Central America" by power of horse. And this sounds less like religion than like an ordinary, unscientific belief in alternative medicine.

35 comments:

Rae said...

God put that doctor on this Earth, too.

MadisonMan said...

I suspect the Children's Hospital is really only after the dollars that flow in with treatment. But I'm a cynic.

Treatments for cancer are not always efficacious, yet they very frequently come with truly debilitating side effects. It is possible the parents are trying to prevent these. God bless them as they travel down this path.

Doctors say the child could die within the year. It's also certain that they may have to lay off a staff member if they don't get the insurance payments to take care of her.

Ann Althouse said...

"Officials at Akron’s Children’s Hospital... said the girl’s illness, lymphoblastic lymphoma, is an aggressive form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, but there is a high survival rate with treatment."

Note that the child is a human being.

William said...

It's possible, maybe even probable, that they're making the wrong decision. But there's no possibility that they do not love their child. Children usually fare better when they're in the custody of those who love them rather than those who know best. It's not a hard and fast rule, but those are the probabilities that I would go with.

Illuninati said...

Normally I do not support state intervention in the relation between a child and a parent. In this case I would make an exception. Based on the information provided, it appears that these parents do not have enough information to make that type of life and death decision for their child.

Gahrie said...

Note that the child is a human being.

That child was a human being at conception.

You support allowing the mother to make life and death decisions about that human as a fetus, why the change now?

Gahrie said...

If the state has a right (or even obligation) to overrule the parents to protect the life of their daughter as a human being....might there come a time when the state recognizes a right (or an obligation) to protect the life of that human being while it is a fetus?

Paddy O said...

If only the Amish were as sophisticated as Steve Jobs or Jenny McCarthy we could respect their decisions more.

Or if it was a bureaucracy who made the decision. Or an administration reputation was at stake. Then it would be good for America to withhold health care from cancer patients for some reason.

Illuninati said...

Gahrie said...
"....might there come a time when the state recognizes a right (or an obligation) to protect the life of that human being while it is a fetus?"

Excellent point. In leftie land the state has absolute right over the lives of the subjects. In China the government uses its power to destroy the life of the fetus against the wishes of the mother. The death panels in Obamacare will enable the state to terminate care of critically ill children against their parents wishes and to deny life saving care to elderly adults based on the cost/benefit analysis of the bureaucracy. Of course top government officials and union leaders would receive much more intensive care since their lives are so important that the cost/benefit equation is shifted markedly over to the side of life.

Ann Althouse said...

@Paddy If Steve Jobs had applied his foolish, unscientific notions about medicine to his child, it would have been different. He chose to perform a medical experiment on himself and he suffered a terrible punishment for it. I've never heard anyone express admiration or even respect for what Jobs did to himself. The best he gets is pity.

Ann Althouse said...

Does anyone here think the state should never intervene in cases of child abuse?

If not, the question is when should the state intervene? Do you want the answer to be: As long as there is love there should be no intervention? Do you want it to be: As long as there is sincere religious belief, there should be no intervention? Do you want it to be: As long as there is apparent belief in a religion that makes me think of pretty hayfields and horsies, there should be no intervention?

m stone said...

Accompanying the statement that "it is God's will" must be the knowledge of what His will really is in this situation. For the Christian that equation applies. That burden is either on the child (still possible) or someone in the family.

It is not a given that medicine and science trumps faith. If this family, under no sect doctrine to shun doctors, decides this path, who are we to question them?

Don't make this a state rights question as much as we'd like to make it one...out of our own absence of faith. Perhaps?

MadisonMan said...

Absent all the facts in this case, I side heavily with the parents.

We do not know the extent of the child's suffering from the chemo. Of course the state is going to minimize the extent of the suffering as they try to wrest control from the parents.

If the child has been pleading with her parents to stop the pain, and the parents believe their child to be sincere, who is the State to get in the way of that?

Scott said...

Are parental rights and property rights one in the same?

Gahrie said...

If not, the question is when should the state intervene?... As long as there is apparent belief in a religion

So your position is that if you disagree with a doctor about the treatment of your child you are committing an act of abuse?

Who else aren't you allowed to diagree with? A therapist? A high school counselor? a faceless government bureaucrat?

Gahrie said...

If not, the question is when should the state intervene?

How about those of us wanted the state to intervene in the early days of the AIDS epidemic (maybe back when they were still calling it GRIDS) and deal with the epidemic the same way we dealt with other epidemics like typhoid, or other veneral diseases?

The Left purposely prevented the isolation of aids patients or the mandatory disclosure of sexual partners...even though that is precisely how we deal with other infectous diseases and veneral diseases.



n.n said...

God intends you to subdue and exploit his plants, animals, and physical creations. As for the outcome, that is God's will. Still, submission is not a virtue. You are not a plant, or an animal, or even a rock. Humans are capable of exhibiting and expressing more degrees of freedom than any other life-form.

That said, there is a natural lifespan. Each individual must decide when artificial interventions are counterproductive to their quality of life and permit natural processes to run their course. It doesn't seem rational to live in order to avoid death.

Ann Althouse said...

"So your position is that if you disagree with a doctor about the treatment of your child you are committing an act of abuse?"

Obviously not. Why would you conclude that?

This is a case of an aggressive cancer for which there is a treatment and which is likely to kill her without the treatment. It's not simply the doctors, it's also the court.

And by the way, the parents don't have a religious objection to the use of modern medicine. They are apparently irrationally regarding the improvement (after treatment) as evidence that the treatment is no longer needed, so they are depriving the child of the benefit of the complete treatment.

Michael K said...

"Treatments for cancer are not always efficacious, yet they very frequently come with truly debilitating side effects."

I was a medical student when the first successes with childhood leukemia began to appear. The kids were passing the 5 year milestone, more every month. Then 15 years later we began to see girls with their first pregnancies after chemotherapy for childhood cancers. Again, they had no problems.

Childhood cancers are the most treatable. Acute lymphocytic leukemia of childhood now has a 95% survival rate. It was zero when I was a first year student.

Pediatric Blood Cancer. 2013 Nov 14. doi: 10.1002/pbc.24848. [Epub ahead of print]

Clinical outcome of childhood lymphoblastic lymphoma in Shanghai China 2001-2010.

Gao YJ, Pan C, Tang JY, Lu FJ, Chen J, Xue HL, Zhai XW, Li J, Ye QD, Zhou M, Wang
HS, Miao H, Qian XW, Xu Z, Meng JH.

Children's Hospital, Shanghai Medical College, Fudan University, Shanghai, China.


This is what the results are in China.

the 5-year probability of event-free survival (pEFS) was
63.9 ± 4.6% in all patients.


For the smaller subset of one type, survival was 100%.

I don't think Amish prayer will do as well.

I am a strong supporter of patient choice in adults, including Jehovah's Witnesses who refuse blood transfusion. I have operated on witnesses with 20% of normal blood hemoglobin. That does not, however, include kids who don't have a choice.

Gahrie said...

It's not simply the doctors, it's also the court.

So when the courts start mandating that women remain pregnant, and begin regulating their behavior when pregnant, in order to protect the life of their child...you'll be fine with that right?

Alex said...

Amazing that the conversation at some point became about Steve Jobs. No I just can't escape fucking Apple Inc no matter where I go. I mean fuck it, I'm using an iMac(with Windows on it) so that black Apple logo is constantly staring me in the face. Sure, I try to pretend it's not there, but the humanity!

jimbino said...

Althouse logic and good sense are failing here.

There is no showing that what Jobs did was worse than the alternative. And no showing that what Steve McQueen did shortened his life.

If the state has to be called on to intervene on behalf of the child, it fails in spades when it allows continuing genital mutilation of tiny atheist male children of Jewish parents and other superstitious folks.
I applaud the flight of the Amish. I myself will soon flee to Brazil to escape Obamacare. There I pay less than half the USSA charges and have the choice of ANY hospital and ANY doctor throughout Brazil.

Get real, Althouse!

jimbino said...

The first thing we need to recognize is that there is lots of profit motive and very little science in "medical science."

I had the sad task of trying to teach baby physics and baby math to pre-meds and pre-laws. We all know that if they'd had to take a real physics or math class, they'd get a B or worse and run the risk of failing to get into med or law school.

Amerikans beware: your docs and your lawyers (including all but one in SCOTUS) are bereft of sophistication in science and math.

St. George said...

To modify the hypothetical, the child is 11.

Theoretically, let's say she is 13 and strong willed.

What is to be done if she physically resists the treatment, i.e. pulls out IVs and so forth? Would she be physically restrained and presumably tranquilized for an unlimited period of time in a hospital?

To go even further, let's say the child is 17, male, and a linebacker on the football team and really doesn't want the chemo?

Illuninati said...

In reading the posts here it seems that most everyone agrees that there is a slippery slope when the state begins to intervene to save a child's life. Before taking the drastic step of forcing treatment on the child the case for treatment should be very strong indeed.

When the state assumes authority over the lives of the citizens there is another side to the slippery slope. The state which claims the authority to force treatment on its citizens can just as easily use that authority to withhold treatment based on a cost/benefit analysis by a board of unaccountable bureaucrats.

AustinRoth said...

Ann - your statism/elitism is showing for all to see.

There is no 'slippery slope' left once you let the State intervene to decide who must have/must not have any given form of medical treatment. You are there already.

You are already firmly on the side of those who believe "others know best". That you believe are your rights are simply an illusion - they belong to the State, who may, under prescribed rules of their making, allow you to make your own "choices", assuming of course the State subsequently agrees with your choice. If not, well, you simply showed why you need your betters to make your choices for you.

Next, give us all your guns. You cannot be trusted to make good choices about them, either.

Illuninati said...


Blogger AustinRoth said...
"There is no 'slippery slope' left once you let the State intervene to decide who must have/must not have any given form of medical treatment. You are there already."

Perhaps you are correct but I'm still not convinced. What do we do if a child shows up at the emergency room with bruises and fractures of varying ages and a history of child abuse?

Gahrie said...

"Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good
of its victim may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live
under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies.
The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may
at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good
will torment us without end for they do so with the approval
of their own conscience."


C.S. Lewis

John said...

Ann asks:

"Does anyone here think the state should never intervene in cases of child abuse? "

Bullshit, Ann. Shame on you.

I suspect that pretty much everyone here would agree that the state has a duty to intervene in the event of child abuse. Protecting people from violence is pretty much the SOLE legitimate function of a state. Including protecting children from violence or abuse by their parents.

That is hardly the issue here. Is refusing the chemotherapy for their child "child abuse"? I don't know enough to say one way or the other in this case. Part of me says force the treatments on the child for their health.

On the other hand, I've seen the incredible suffering that some cancer patients go through with little or no positive benefit.

So I don't know.

But don't you, Ann, go accusing your readers here of not caring about child abuse.

You should know better.

If this sounds a bit harsh, you betcha. Your accusation really pisses me off.

John Henry

Craig Howard said...

I just want to caution the readers that this is not any more representative of Amish beliefs than it would be of any other group.

Here -- upstate NY -- the Amish are a very, very fundamentalist, old-order sect, but one young Amish father in my village flew his daughter all over the U.S. to the best cancer clinics he could find in order to help her.

Unfortunately, in her case, they couldn't. These cases must always be analyzed as individuals making decisions for themselves.

jimbino said...

Craig Howard says,

"Unfortunately, in her case, they couldn't. These cases must always be analyzed as individuals making decisions for themselves."

To which I have to call Bullshit. The Amish exemption from Obamacare depends on their communal, as opposed to individual, activity.

Since Amish are exempt from Obamacare, should they all then be excluded from Obamacare? I think so, though I'm thinking about becoming Amish myself, just to be free of those burdensome Obamacare taxes.

Kentucky Packrat said...

As Lewis posited, all forms of evil can be justified by the good of the individual despite himself. Munchkin Bloomberg tried to ban Big Gulps and wishes to ban trans fats and guns because he doesn't believe people can be trusted with them.

The fundamental right of a parent is to set the bounds in which they raise their children. The government that can force a treatment that conflicts with religion is a government that can ban other essential portions of a religion. Anyone for forced female circumcisions, or for banning male circumcisions (i.e. banning Judaism)?

Raising the canard of child abuse is a red herring. According to Richard Dawkins, teaching a child Christianity is worse child abuse than touching a child sexually. We all know what child abuse is, and can define it consistently with libertarian ideals. By trying to define the following of religious beliefs as child abuse, you ruin the definition.

Also, it's interesting that the alternative treatments are supposedly working. Assuming that they are working, and are controlling the cancer, what interest does the state have left? Other than the obvious one of punishing the parents for daring to ignore our black-robed priests of justice and their perfect pronunciations of Pure Truth(R), of course....

jimbino said...

Packrat, you're slightly off there. Adults should have the right to get circumcised or sell their bone marrow. What is objectionable is the sexual mutilation of little atheist babies by religious fanatics, whether Jewish, Muslim or merely Amerikan parents.

RecChief said...

maybe by central america, they mean Indiana, or Iowa. Maybe that's why they can't find them

SOJO said...

The article is unclear about which method worked when. It seems to imply the first round chemo reduced her tumors, but that the natural treatment took her over the line to "cancer-free'. Then they seem to contradict themselves towards the end.

As someone pursuing Western methods, I actually now have more respect, not less, for people that do this kind of thing. It takes courage. What I've learned is that medical science only half knows what they are doing. I don't mean that in a conspiracy theory way. That's straight from the doctors' mouths. They give it their best shot, of course, but it's far from the exact science you hope/trust it is before you have something go seriously wrong. There is plenty of wiggle room.

If you could hear the description of the (ostensibly cutting edge and high tech) procedure I have to decide to have or not, let me tell you, it sounds incredibly primitive and beta version when you are the one actually facing it; yet doctors would say the same thing about it as they say with this girl. They *have* to say that even if they are shrugging their shoulders at the same time.

Quality of life becomes a real thing and not a phrase, as it has for these parents, when you go through the results every day and your promised best shot at remission may encompass some of changes permanently.


Bottom line, you're not the one living through what they are, so don't assume that they don't know what they are talking about and haven't considered things rationally. Maybe they have and maybe they haven't, but don't jump to a conclusion that they are buying into "anti-science" woo.