Teen Fights for Informed Consent

In response to an article in USA Today July 11, 2006
Teen Fights for Right to Pick Cancer Treatment

Abraham Cherrix, 16, has cancer. The first round of chemotherapy almost killed him. After he and his parents conducted independent research into alternative therapies, he told medical doctors at a hospital in Virginia, where he was given the first round of chemotherapy, that he does not want more chemo.

His parents have backed him up. But the medical doctors who gave Abraham the first round of chemo, apparently irate that their orders are being disobeyed, told a state social services agency about his disobedience. Now Abraham's parents have been charged with child "medical neglect," a charge that is often brought against parents who refuse to give their children all of the more than 3 dozen doses of a dozen vaccines the federal government dictates they should have by age six; who refuse to give hyperactive children toxic drugs to control behavior while they are in school; or who refuse to submit children to to other kinds of potentially harmful medical interventions.

A Virginia juvenile court is now deiberating about whether doctors can force Abraham to undergo chemo that could kill him without his voluntary, informed consent or the voluntary, informed consent of his parents.

In an online USA Today poll, in which more than 250,000 Americans weighed in by July 13, 2006 on whether the state should force Abraham to undergo another round of potentially deadly chemotherapy, 85 percent of those Americans voted "NO" to the idea of state-forced medical treatment. Putting themselves in Abraham's shoes and the shoes of his parents, these men and women are voting for the human right to informed consent to any medical intervention which can kill or cripple.

Most Americans don't talk about it much, but when they are asked, a lot of them are tired of being told what to do by M.D./Ph.D. "experts" inside and outside of government who have set themselves up as the judge, jury and police enforcers of what we can and cannot do with our bodies. It is becoming apparent that, as if by the virtue of the letters written after their names and the titles given to them by their colleagues, medical doctors assume they have some God-given right to tell other people what to risk their lives and their children's lives for when making health care decisions.

Reading about Abraham's struggle for the human right to informed consent to medical treatment, I am reminded of what I wrote in the concluding chapter of the book "A Shot in the Dark" which I co-authored with Harris Coulter in 1985:

"We have been taught to trust and believe in our scientists and doctors, to believe they are among the brightest and best in our society. We have willingly given them our respect and accorded them wealth, privilege and power. And we have given them the right to tell us what to do with our children, because we always believed they knew what was best. We have treated them as gods, forgetting they are our fathers and mothers, wives and husbands, sons and daughters. They are us, with all the frailty and ignorance and susceptibility to temptation that is implicit in being human.

"Mothers and fathers in cities and towns across America are entering libraries and reading medical literature on all the vaccines and drugs that doctors prescribe. They are educating themselves about medicine, and in the process they are finding that it is by no means beyong their comprehension. It is becoming clear that their learning may save children's lives. This is an awakening that has been a long time coming, a necessary first step in making medical decisions ar shared responsibility between parents and doctors."

I knew in 1985 and know today that no medical doctor or Ph.D. "bioethicist" inside or outside of government has the moral right to take away someone elses' human right to informed consent to medical interventions which can injure or kill.. The human right to individual inviolability, to self determination in matters of life and death, is at the heart of what it means to be free in a nation that has always stood for freedom.

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