Should Boy with Hodgkin's Be Allowed to Refuse Treatment?

As you've likely read on the web, Daniel Hauser, a 13-year-old from Sleepy Eye, Minnesota has Hodgkin's lymphoma and for months now, his parents have refused to allow him to be treated with either chemotherapy or radiation. As the Minneapolis Star-Tribune says, the kid has "quickly turned into a cause celebre in the world of alternative medicine."

Meanwhile, the district attorney for Brown County, filed a petition accusing the boy's parents of child neglect and endangerment, and he wants a judge to force the child into standard treatment.

The boy—rather, his parents—have claimed that chemo and radiation violate his religious beliefs (they claim to be part of the Nemenhah, an American Indian religious organization, although they are not American Indians themselves).

He told the judge he was a medicine man and that, "I am opposed to chemotherapy because it is self-destructive and poisonous. I want to live a virtuous life, in the eyes of my creator, not just a long life."

Meanwhile, his first oncologist, from Children's Hospitals and Clinics in Minneapolis, as well as two other cancer specialists have testified that his chances of survival would "drop to 5 percent without treatment."

His mother said she 'approves of using Western medicine during a life-threatening emergency, such as a heart attack, but this isn't it. "My son is not in any medical danger at this point."

We know that, with treatment, Hodgkin's is very curable. We also know that his preferred treatment, a diet of herbs and vitamins, has absolutely no clinical or scientific merit, at least on record.

What's your take on this? Can a 13 year old boy make such a decision responsibly, or are his parents' religious beliefs—which he adopted, but he got them from them—risking his life? Should he be forced to undergo treatment? If he doesn't survive, should the parents be prosecuted?

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