At 16 years old, kids can drive a car, but can they make decisions regarding their health? This is a topic which interests me—a month ago I blogged about the topic in reference to a child whose parents had involved him in a circumcision lawsuit. When exactly are children old enough to determine what happens to their bodies?
This issue has once again received press, this time in the case of a 16-year old cancer patient who wishes to refuse chemotherapy after the first round make him sick. Instead, he wants to try an herbal cure championed by a clinic south of the border, the Hoxsey method. His parents agreed with his assessment, and stopped chemo. Social Services brought a lawsuit for neglect.
Well, the judge decided to rule in favor of the boy and his parents after they came to an agreement to see an oncologist interested in alternative therapies:
Circuit Judge Glen A. Tyler announced that both sides had reached a consent decree, which Tyler approved.
Under the decree, Starchild Abraham Cherrix, who is battling Hodgkin’s disease, will be treated by an oncologist of his choice who is board-certified in radiation therapy and interested in alternative treatments.
Abraham said that he saw the doctor last week, and the doctor assured him that his cancer is curable. The teen said he’ll continue following an alternative herbal treatment called the Hoxsey method as well as his doctor’s treatment plan. The regimen won’t include chemotherapy, but radiation is a possibility, he said.
The sale of the Hoxsey method has been banned in the US since 1960:
According to the American Cancer Society, there is no scientific evidence that Hoxsey is effective in treating cancer in people. The herbal treatment is illegal in the United States but can be obtained through clinics in Mexico, and some U.S. naturopathic practitioners use adapted versions of the formula.
The Hoxsey method is a lesson in quackery; its inventor had no medical training, and he got together with a radio broadcaster (Norman Baker) to help him hock a mixture of herbs he said cured cancer. At one time, he had clinics in 17 states, and was convicted numerous times for practicing medicine without a license. Ironically, he developed prostate cancer in 1967, and when he failed to respond to his own treatment, he died.
Medical neglect, hellz yes.
Note: Orac of Respectful Insolence has a fantastic post up about this very topic.