A couple hundred years ago, a bunch of tired, bedraggled, bonneted and buckled people walked onto a shore, and declared that this was the New World. Here was a place where they could practice their religion freely, without interference from an oppressive government. The road was rocky, but eventually, boundaries were laid, states were formed, independence was won and a Constitution was adopted.
Fast forward 200+ years. Travel about 1,500 miles to the west, into MN. Here we find a family in crisis. A family facing the ultimate tragedy, with no easy answers.
Daniel Hauser, discussed here on May 12, is a 13 year old boy from Sleepy Eye, MN. He has Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a treatable form of cancer. With chemotherapy, he has about a 90% chance of survival. Without chemo, the chances of survival drop to well below 50%. Some doctors put his survival chances – without medical intervention – at 10% or less. That means that, without treatment, he is likely to die.
Seems like an easy answer, right? Get the chemo.
Nope. After a single chemo treatment, during which he also had to have a chest tube inserted to assist his breathing, Daniel has decided to forgo further treatments. His parents support his decision. As far as I can tell, Daniel has three reasons for his decision: First, it was nasty. It made him sick, gave him headaches and breathing difficulty. Second, his aunt was treated with chemotherapy for a different kind of cancer, and she died anyway. And Third, his religious practice, that of Nemenhah, promotes natural healing – using diet and natural herbs, rather than chemicals – to cure the body’s ailments
Daniel’s parents, Colleen and Anthony, support his decision. The government does not, and has ordered Daniel into chemo.
Yesterday, Daniel and his mother went “into the wind”. They disappeared. Anthony Hauser claims no knowledge of where his family is.
Can you blame him?
Assuming that everyone is operating with all of their faculties intact, that they are completely sane, these are two parents who want to do what’s right by their son and by their beliefs. This decision has placed them directly at odds with an ever more intrusive government.
America was founded on the principal of ‘religious freedom’ – the ability to practice, or not, according to your belief. As long as you’re not pulling a Charles Manson, and slaughtering people in your wake, the government has no say over what you do within your religion.
The medical society has a basic tenet, as well…. “first, do no harm”. Well, what kind of harm are they inflicting on this family? Yes, we would all like to see young Daniel endure chemotherapy, eliminate the cancer, and grow to be a strapping young man.
But he, and his family, have said no. Presumably, they have talked together, prayed together, and made the decision together. Nobody is in shackles, Daniel is not screaming “HELP ME! HELP ME!” while his parents hold him away from the doctors. All are in agreement.
They just happen to disagree with the authorities, who have stepped in with law enforcement and warrants and judge’s decrees.
So Daniel and Colleen are on the run.
And what happens when they finally catch Daniel and Colleen? Daniel will be taken from his parent’s custody “for his own good”, and have a needle stuck in his arm “for his own good”, and have strong chemicals pumped into his blood “for his own good”.
His mother , and possibly his father, will likely face charges of child endangerment, and whatever else can be applied.
And to what end?
What happens if they do find Daniel and force him to take the chemo? Do they provide mental support for him? Because something this traumatic could lead a person – especially a teen – into depression.
What if the chemo doesn’t work, and he dies?
What happened to “first, do no harm”?
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