Should children be forced to undergo chemo and radiation?
Posted by Jonathan Chamberlain on August 26, 2013
The arguments for: That this is the only treatment that will work? (unproven); That the child will die if treatment isn’t given? (unproven); that doctors have a duty to do everything in their power to ensure patients get the best medical treatment? (if this were true then there would be no grounds for refusing treatment to those who cannot pay.)
The arguments against: Adults should never be allowed to cause pain or damage to children – no matter what their motives are or how beneficial the intended result will be. Chemo and radiation cause extreme nausea, pain and life-long damage. Teachers are not allowed to cane students even though some form of discipline would have a long term benefit for the child. Why should doctors be empowered to impose far greater pain and damage? In other circumstances this kind of coercion would be called torture. Why should doctors be empowered to impose torture? Do children not have basic rights? Is there not a presumption that parents want the best for their children? There are reason-based, evidence-based therapies that are non-damaging and parents should be allowed to access these as they would be able to for themselves.
It is dangerous to give any section of society – police, doctors, firemen, road sweepers – the ability to dictate what families must do to ensure people live in the right way, in health or any other area of life. If the actions of parents cause pain and long term damage they should be prosecuted for this. The law should be empowered only to stop abuse but not empowered to impose some form of ideal behaviour (no matter how good that behaviour might be) So doctors, if their actions are direct causes of un-volunteered-for pain and damage they too should be prosecuted.
That this is an issue fo some importance can be seen from the following: