Thursday, May 21, 2009

Guest Blog: Saving the Lamb

Guest blogger Jason Tabrys of contributes this alternative viewpoint in response to yesterday's post about the court decision requiring a boy to endure chemotherapy against his parent's will:

It is a never ending battle that now ensnares the fragile life of a young boy stricken with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Science and faith clashing over a young boy and the decision of his parents to steer clear of Western remedies like chemotherapy. Statistics say that with chemotherapy the boy stands a 95% chance of surviving, without it a 90% chance of death. Minnesota District Court Judge John Rodenberg weighed in ordering a chest X-ray of the boy to determine his prognosis and set the stage for a resumption of chemotherapy if the X-ray results showed it would be beneficial in the boys treatment. Dissatisfied with that verdict the mother decided to flee with the boy in tow. These are the irrefutable facts of this horrific story that promise to damage this boy in someway regardless of the outcome.

Stories like this are admittedly horrible, pitting family against government, a boy's life hanging in the balance and the inclusion of belief as a main player. When belief enters the fray, the argument becomes delicate. People commit to their beliefs, breathe them, and live them. It is their everything in some cases, and to attack that or be flip is to attack their entire existence. Now I respect faith, and alternate views in regard to healing. In my life I have known people who believe with their whole heart that the best course of treatment for sickness is the homeopathic route, and yet I have been someone who entrusts their wellness to medical science in the face of sickness. Both paths are a choice that must be made in an informed way, weighing both options and their positives and negatives individually. The problem here though is that the boy does not have the capacity to effectively judge which path is best for him. He is a minor child at 13 and is also reportedly illiterate. At this stage of his life it would be unfair to allow anyone to stand in the way of this young man living a long and happy life, a life that will most likely not exist beyond mere months or years if his parents are allowed to decide his fate with their views.

Now what makes science appropriate to force on this boy but not the beliefs of his parents? Fact, science is based in factual data, knowledge of what has happened within a range of similar circumstances before. Information and statistics thoroughly studied and repeatedly proven. The advances of Western medicine are real, the benefits of chemotherapy, of radiation, are real. I have seen these benefits in my own family and most likely you have to. People in this world are living longer lives because of these advances. And while a belief in the holistic must be respected and exist as possibly adequate alternatives with regard to general care and vaccinations (though that too is suspect), it cannot supply the same weight of evidence to show that this boys life will be adequately protected from the clear and present danger that grows within him. And allowing this boys parents to exist as if there is such evidence is a dereliction by society that may allow this boys life to slip away.

Yes the intrusion of the government in this matter is startling but it is an outrage that is surpassed by the actions of the boys parents who are allowing their sons safety to fall into doubt in the name of homeopathy and religious belief. Respecting their wishes for the sake of respecting faith is an understandable reflex but if their religion called for sacrificial slaughter of the boy would we not expect the legal and child welfare system to react? And is this really anything less then a near certain sacrifice? I think not, and as much as it pains me to advocate action, we must. If the boys mother and father cannot see truth through the haze of hope and do that which will give their son length of years then they prove themselves inadequate guardians and the court is right to ensure the child’s welfare and direct his treatment in ways that the parents will not. I only hope that the boy can be found in time to save his life.

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