When should the state override parents on the issue of a child’s health care?

I’ve been pondering the above question after reading two different news items about parents who either have refused or are refusing mainstream medical treatments for their kids. The first news item is about a court ruling against Colleen and Anthony Hauser of Minneapolis, Minnesota who had opted not to have their son, Daniel Hauser, receive chemotherapy for cancer in preference for “alternative” medical treatments:

In a 58-page ruling, Brown County District Judge John Rodenberg found Daniel Hauser has been “medically neglected” by his parents, Colleen and Anthony Hauser. The judge allowed Daniel to stay with his parents, noting they love him, but he gave them until Tuesday to get an updated chest X-ray of Daniel’s tumor and select an oncologist.

If the tumor has not grown and if Daniel’s prognosis is still as optimistic as doctors testified last week, then chemotherapy and possible radiation appear to be in Daniel’s best interest, Rodenberg wrote.

“The State has successfully shown by clear and convincing evidence that continued chemotherapy is medically necessary,” he wrote, adding he would not order chemotherapy if doctors find the cancer has advanced to a point where it is “too late.”

If chemotherapy is ordered and the family refuses, the judge said, Daniel will be placed in temporary custody.

The cancer in question is Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Daniel’s doctors say there’s a 90% chance he’ll survive if he receives chemotherapy, but only a 5% chance if he doesn’t. He’s had one round so far after which the parents sought a second opinion only to have the same treatment suggested. They’ve since opted to go with the alternative medicine approach claiming it’s part of their religious beliefs:

Court testimony indicated Daniel’s tumor shrank after the first round of chemo, but has since grown. His mother, Colleen Hauser, testified last week: “My son is not in any medical danger at this point.” She has been treating his cancer with herbal supplements, vitamins, ionized water, and other natural alternatives—despite testimony from five doctors who agreed Daniel needed chemotherapy.

Five doctors have concurred and the woman insists on using bullshit treatments based on her religious beliefs. Just what are those beliefs anyway?

The Hausers, who have eight children, are Roman Catholic and also believe in the “do no harm” philosophy of the Nemenhah Band. The Missouri-based religious group believes in natural healing methods advocated by some American Indians.

Rodenberg wrote that Daniel claims to be an elder in the band, but does not know what that means. Daniel also says he is a medicine man under Nemenhah teachings but can’t say how he became a medicine man or what teachings he has had to become one.

He also noted that at age 13, Daniel can’t read.

“He lacks the ability to give informed consent to medical procedures,” Rodenberg said.

[…] According to Daniel’s court testimony, he believes the chemo will kill him, and said: “I’d fight it. I’d punch them and I’d kick them.”

How’s that for kooky? Roman Catholic mixed with Native American pseudo-shamanism. A kid who is illiterate yet claims to be a medicine man and who has stated he will actively resist any attempts to use mainstream treatments on him. Obviously the parents have gotten this kid pretty damn delusional to the point that he is willing to risk his own life. Should the state have any say in the matter or should they respect the family’s religious beliefs no matter how suicidally stupid they are?

I’m leaning towards the opinion that they should let the family do what they want in this regard and then, if the parent’s inaction results in the death of the boy, charge them with negligent homicide. That’s what is happening in the case of the parents that tried to pray away their daughter’s diabetes. The mother is now facing charges because of her death:

Neumann is charged with second-degree reckless homicide in the Easter 2008 death of her 11-year-old daughter Madeline from undiagnosed diabetes. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison.

Neumann has said her family believes in the Bible, which says healing comes from God, and she never expected her daughter to die.

According to the criminal complaint, Madeline’s father considered the girl’s illness “a test of faith” and Neumann never considered taking the girl to the doctor because she thought her daughter was under a “spiritual attack.”

The family does not belong to an organized religion or faith, Neumann has said.

During opening statements, Assistant District Attorney LaMont Jacobson told the jury this case isn’t about religious freedom or religious rights.

“This case is about Madeline Neumann’s needless suffering and death,” he said.

In both cases the families are relying on their beliefs over modern medical practice as a means of treating their kid’s illnesses. One family has already been shown how poor an approach that is and the other is about to learn the same lesson, but perhaps that’s a lesson that some folks just have to learn the hard way. Madeline’s diabetes was easily treatable and she could have had a long and happy life. Daniel’s cancer is also treatable with a high survivability rate when handled properly. It’s a shame their parents are so wrapped up in their religious bullshit that they’re willing to let their kids die rather than have them treated for their conditions, but I suppose it does cut back on the possibility of those memes being spread to yet another generation in that family tree.

A small bit of irony during the first day of Neumann’s trial. She suffered a medical emergency and they called 911:

Prosecutors had begun laying out their case against Leilani Neumann, 41, on Saturday morning. About 20 minutes in to their opening statement, as they described the girl’s condition the day before she died, Neumann put her head in her arms on the table.

Moments later her attorneys expressed concern, asking for a recess so they could get her some air. She appeared visibly weak as her husband and others escorted her from the courtroom to a downstairs office.

Judge Vincent Howard ordered court security to call 911 and have Neumann medically evaluated.

While she was being examined by paramedics in the office, her defense attorney, Gene Linehan, told the judge Neumann was suffering a total physical and emotional breakdown.

“She claimed she has no feeling in her arms and legs,” Linehan said, telling the judge Neumann could not participate in her defense in her current state.

The judge agreed to a recess, saying Neumann “needs a medical evaluation, not a judicial one, at least at this stage.”

Why didn’t they just have her husband pray away her breakdown instead of calling in paramedics? If it was good enough for her daughter than surely it would be good enough for Mrs. Neumann.

Her husband’s trial, by the way, is scheduled to start July 23rd.

Yeah, I can remember going outside to play.

Interesting article at the L.A. Times titled Remember ‘go outside and play?’:

Reader, if you’re much over 30, you probably remember what it used to be like for the typical American kid. Remember how there used to be this thing called “going out to play”?

For younger readers, I’ll explain this archaic concept. It worked like this: The child or children in the house—as long as they were over age 4 or so—went to the door, opened it, and … went outside. They braved the neighborhood pedophile just waiting to pounce, the rusty nails just waiting to be stepped on, the trees just waiting to be fallen out of, and they “played.”

Thirty years ago I was 11 years-old and I played outside quite a bit. Despite growing up in Pontiac our neighborhood had a touch of suburbia to it and the house I grew up in was right next to a vacant corner lot owned by the family that lived on the lot behind it. We called it The Field and it had three rows of trees down it with a big dirt ring encircling them from where countless kids had ridden bicycles, go-karts, and minibikes around and around. Stepping out the back (actually side) door of our house and walking across the driveway was all it took to escape to a world of imagination. For being a big lot with a bunch of trees in it we found plenty to do there. Neighborhood baseball games, games of tag, riding bikes, playing in the rain, losing our “action figures” in the grass, playing with the family dog, and so on. I once asked the man who owned it why he never developed it and he told me he left it empty so us kids and his own kids, he had a son and daughter himself, would have a place to play. Go to the neighborhood today and you’ll find that the lot has been sold and two newer homes crammed into it. A discovery that both surprised and saddened me. There’s a whole bunch of us who had years of play time invested in that empty lot and it’s sad to think that it won’t be available to future generations. There aren’t any parks close at hand to that neighborhood, but I suppose it doesn’t matter as most kids don’t play outside anymore.

Above and beyond The Field, I can remember having a pretty free run of the neighborhood even at a young age. I had friends who lived down the street or one street over and I used to go over to their houses to play regularly. I can recall walking to Alcott Elementary school every day as well starting in first grade, a distance of at least a couple of miles (uphill, both ways). I can recall being very envious of the kids who got to ride on a school bus once the January winds started in full force. As I grew older the distance I was allowed to traverse grew considerably. By the time I was in high school I was regularly biking to friend’s houses that were several miles away. One of my girlfriends lived a good 20 minute bike ride away and I used to ride the bike over to the Pontiac Mall (Summit Place Mall today) which took over an hour even with shortcuts. Once some of us got our licenses we’d get together all the time to hang out.

In comparison after Courtney came to live with me she stayed a lot closer to home. Part of that may be the fact that, unlike myself, she’s always had access to the Internet and thusly could keep in contact with her friends without having to pick up a phone and go physically hang out with them. She didn’t have anywhere near as regimented life as some kids do today, but she also didn’t go outside as much as I did as a kid. Not that we didn’t try to encourage her to go out more and hang out with friends. Now at 18 she’s just starting to hang out with her friends and go places with a frequency that’s somewhat similar to what I used to do at 16.  We didn’t plan it that way, that’s just how it sort of went. Of course I had the advantage of living in the same house for most of the first two decades of my life whereas Courtney with both parents has had more homes already than I’ve had in my entire life. The six years we lived in Canton was the longest stretch she’s had in one place. I sometimes feel bad that she didn’t get to have the sort of childhood I did.

Hat tip to Fallacio.us for the link.

Kids make their own “Star Wars” movie, with help from Dad.

Not impressed with the kids making their own Doctor Who episode? Then how about kids making their own Star Wars movie, with help from Dad of course:

Best part of all? No Jar Jar.

Best. “Doctor Who.” Episode. Ever.

A bunch of kids, with some help from Dad no doubt, film their own episode of Doctor Who versus the Daleks complete with music and appropriately low-budget special effects. It is a six minute and forty-three second tour de force:

The thing that makes this so cool to me is I can remember desperately wanting a film, and later a video, camera as a kid so I could make my own movies. My brother actually had a silent Super 8MM film camera that I used a couple of times to make small movies with, one of which was my own episode of the Mr. Bill Show of which I was a big fan*. I spent hours trying to figure out cheap ways of doing the special effects I’d need for my up and coming Space Epic, building ships out of Styrofoam, putting together model kits and so on, all for naught as in the end I didn’t have access to a camera with enough running time to do what I wanted to do. Nothing I did manage to put together comes close to what these kids have got up on YouTube. It’s a testament to how far technology has come in both ease of use and price that these kids put together a complete film that’s easily as entertaining as anything on prime time American television, if not more so.  The fact that millions of people around the world are also able to view it, whereas most of my attempts were barely watched by my own family, is also pretty amazing. Wish we had had this kind of stuff when I was a kid.

Found over at Boing Boing.

*I actually dressed up as Mr. Bill for Halloween one year. No one had a clue who the fuck I was supposed to be.

Poll says parents more worried about video games than beer or porn.

If a poll from the folks at What They Play.com is accurate then there are some parents out there with some seriously fucked up priorities. The press release for the survey is up at GamePolitics.com:

Nearly 3,000 respondents in two separate What They Play polls concluded that drinking beer and watching pornography were less objectionable activities for children than playing certain video games. Further, viewing violence was more acceptable than seeing content involving sex and sexuality within games.

[…] According to WTP’s data, here’s what parents found most offensive in video games:

  • a man and woman having sex (37%)
  • two men kissing (27%)
  • a graphically severed head (25%)
  • multiple use of the F-word (9%).

Seriously, what the fuck? This is especially confusing seeing as there are very few (and none of them mainstream) video games with graphic sexual content in them and yet they’re more concerned about sex in video games than real sex in porn?

Dr. Cherly Olson, co-author of Grand Theft Childhood, says that unfamiliarity may be part of the reason:

Although these findings seem surprising at first, they hint at fears parents have about video games. To some parents, video games are full of unknowable dangers. While researching for Grand Theft Childhood, parents we spoke with in focus groups often bemoaned the fact that they didn’t know how to use game controls – and felt unequipped to supervise or limit video game play. Of course, parents don’t want their children drinking alcohol, but that’s a more familiar risk.

On the plus side, with more and more people playing video games well into adulthood the next generation of parents should be better equipped to make decisions for their kids on what games are appropriate than today’s parents. I suppose the reason I find this so surprising is because I am one of those parents.

Being a Christian is like being an electrocuted pickle.

Or at least that’s what “Grandpa John” says in the following video:

I have to admit that I nearly burst out laughing at points during that demonstration. I don’t know about you, but having a couple of forks shoved into both ends of my body and then having 110 Volts AC pumped through me doesn’t sound all that appealing, but that’s what being “hooked into Jesus” is supposedly like. I also like how the fits and sputters of light being given off by the hapless pickle is supposed to be an example of the “positive change and light” that said pickle now brings to his fellow, more sinful, pickles. How exactly this is supposed to help the other pickles is never actually explained. Perhaps it’s supposed to encourage the other pickles to plunge forks into themselves and then find a handy live wire so they too can fry in God’s glory and maybe, just maybe, that’s something a lot of pickles aspire to. I wouldn’t know as any pickles in my immediate area don’t remain undigested for very long. You’d think, though, that the smoke emanating from said pickle after being unplugged from Jesus would scare a few of the pickles off. Let alone the scary-looking black fluid that starts to seep out one end after it’s hooked back up again. Are those pickles brains leaking out of the pickle’s ear after being exposed to the power of Jesus for too long? Careful kids! Too much Jesus exposure could be hazardous to your health.

It seems Grandpa John has his own website where he uses simple science experiments to recruit kids to belief in Jesus:

I love to teach kids about science and God. I have been teaching science since…, well, probably before you were born. Here on this site you can see segments from some recent science lessons. These lessons are all available on DVDs from the PowerVine Power Store. Just use my link to that store. Also I have a link to another great site I call Dandy Designs. And there is a link to the Does God Exist? website. There your parents can find information about God and they can also learn how to get my materials on free loan. I would love to hear from you. Maybe you have a question I can try to answer. Have fun as you learn about God’s creation.

Poking around a bit more on Grandpa John’s website I started to feel a little bad for the guy. It’s kind of like MySpace in that you can sign on as a “friend” of GJ as well as rate his “channel”, but he doesn’t have a single friend or rating so far. It could be that he’s just getting started as he only has two other videos up so far and one of them doesn’t mention God or Jesus at all. It’s a demonstration on “Electrical Voltage, Current and Resistance” which seems to be more or less on par with what you’d get in a high school science class, but the ending leaves one feeling like you’re being set up for another dose of God promotion.

We kind of get that in his third video titled “Miracle Cures and Electric Fields” in which he talks about an old quack medical device he bought at a yard sale that purported to use electric fields to cure baldness. What’s particularly interesting about this video is that he does a good job of demonstrating why you should be skeptical of grandiose claims and explains how science can make mistakes and after the previous video, which had no God references at all, I was beginning to think perhaps the pickle torture was just a fluke. Then he ends the video by saying that the Bible, unlike science, never makes mistakes and that’s why he became a Christian. Doh!

Alas we probably won’t be hearing much more from Grandpa John as according to his site he last logged in 210 days and 1 hour ago. It seems he’s much too busy running the Does God Exist website, which has been updated a bit more frequently. Apparently he puts out a bi-monthly publication titled, what else, “Does God Exist” and the May/June issue deals with THE KIDS CRISIS!

Anyone who has been involved with young people in today’s world is aware that there is a major crisis developing with kids. Every adult generation has felt that “young people today are going to the dogs” or some similar statement of negativism, and this was almost always just a statement of old fogy disapproval of behavior. As a teenager in the 1950s who was into rock and roll and Elvis and all that went with that craze, I am well familiar with stereotypic generalizations about how bad young people are. Today, however, the problem is not about loud music or teenage clichšs. There is a wealth of data that says that young people in today’s world are in serious trouble, and to a great extent the secular world is at a loss to do anything about it.

He should know. He used to be a public school science teacher. Which, given the mostly subtle God pushing his videos have in them, is kind of a scary thought.

Link found via Boing Boing.

Once again prayer fails to save a young man’s life.

16-year-old Neil Beagley died of heart failure thanks to an untreated urinary tract blockage:

He probably had a congenital condition that constricted his urinary tract where the bladder empties into the urethra, and the condition of his organs indicates that he had multiple blockages during his life, said Dr. Clifford Nelson, deputy state medical examiner for Clackamas County.

“You just build up so much urea in your bloodstream that it begins to poison your organs, and the heart is particularly susceptible,” Nelson said.

Nelson said a catheter would have saved the boy’s life. If the condition had been dealt with earlier, a urologist could easily have removed the blockage and avoided the kidney damage that came with the repeated illnesses, Nelson said.

In short, the kid died because he couldn’t piss and reports have it he refused medical treatment in favor of prayer. It probably won’t be prosecuted as a crime because in Oregon the law allows anyone 14 years or older to refuse medical treatment. The same can’t be said of the boy’s cousin, though, who has also fallen victim to people who think prayer actually does something:

In March, the boy’s 15-month-old cousin Ava Worthington died at home from bronchial pneumonia and a blood infection.

Her parents, Carl and Raylene Worthington, also belong to the church. They have pleaded not guilty to manslaughter and criminal mistreatment, and their defense attorneys have indicated that they will use a religious freedom defense.

I find it odd that so many True Believers™ will protest abortion because every life is sacred, but apparently not sacred enough for some to seek simple medical treatment for their kids. Abortion is murder, but not getting your kid a catheter is just God’s way of saying his time has come.

CRISIS IN PORTLAND OREGON! GRADE SCHOOL DROPS PLEDGE FROM CEREMONIES!

It’s shocking, but true! The Commie Pinko Latte sipping Liberal bastards that run the Capitol Hill Elementary school have opted not to have departing fifth graders recite the Pledge of Allegiance during this years ceremony. One local mom is HORRIBLY, HORRIBLY distraught over this injustice:

“I was sad,” said parent Briana Reese. “The flag was sitting up there, you know. Two of the kids went up and they said ‘everybody rise’ and we rose and I thought for just a second ‘oh yeah, we’re going to put our hands on our hearts and we’re going to salute the flag’ – but no.”

Reese had heard that the principal planned to take the pledge out of the ceremony.

“I think that’s what they should be doing – telling kids you should be pledging your allegiance to this country,” said Reese. “This is a great country. You’re here for a reason.”

Yes, the reason you’re here is because your parents were Americans and they had sex. What better way to celebrate your reason for being than to recite your allegiance to a flag at an age where the sentiment is completely lost on you. How the hell can you possibly grow up to be responsible gay-hatin’, Republican votin’, gun totin’ adults if we don’t indoctrinate the living hell out of you by the time you leave the fifth grade? I bet the ACLU is behind this! BURN ‘EM! BURN THE WITCHES!

And just what did they replace the pledge with? Probably some recitals from the Communist Manifesto no doubt!

The pledge was instead replaced with a singing version of the preamble to the Constitution.

Oh. Well. That is a catchy little tune. Still it’s NO REPLACEMENT for the God fearing patriotism to be found in the Pledge! I’m sure EVERYONE is as outraged about this issue as Briana Reese is!

KATU tried repeatedly to talk with Principal Pam Wilson but got no results. However, in an e-mail response to Reese’s questions, she explained the pledge was removed “out of respect for the diversity of religious faiths.”

Some parents support the principal’s decision.

“I think it’s nice to be trying to consider everybody,” said parent Teri Price. “But I don’t think she necessarily meant it to be that controversial. I think she just wanted a change.”

MORE COMMIE PINKO LIBERALS! BURN ‘EM!

Time for a Meme: I am still a kid.

Elfninosmom over at Adventures In Frickintardistan tagged me with the following meme:

List 5 things you still do, that you did when you were a baby/little kid.

Hmmm. That’s a tough one in part because I don’t remember a whole lot of my days as a baby or little kid. You’d probably be better off asking my mother about that, but here’s the best I could come up with:

  1. I still like to fly kites. I don’t do it as often as I’d like and the last kite I tried to fly, a wicked cool pirate ship, never got off the ground, but every now and then I’ll haul out a kite and try to give myself a heart attack running around with it. It’s one of the few forms of exercise I get these days.
  2. I still collect toys. Again not as much as I did when I was a kid, but I still have a few around including some figures from Doctor Who such as the Tenth Doctor (gift from Hairboy), sonic screwdriver flashlight and ink pens, and a remote controlled Dalek.
  3. I still hate spinach. ‘Nuf said.
  4. I still like to write short stories. The creativity doesn’t flow as often as it used to, but these days the comprehensibility of the stories is greatly improved. There’s at least two short stories buried in the archives. I’m kicking around some ideas for a new one.
  5. I still sing along with the radio in the car. Loudly and with enthusiasm. Though I tend to tone it down when the wife and kid are in the car so as to spare them my lack of singing ability. It’s one of the simple things in life that makes me happy. As a kid I’d sing along with the radio all the time which occasionally got on my poor Dad’s nerves.

That’s the best I can come up with at the moment. I’m supposed to tag five other people, but I’m much like ***Dave in that I’ll leave it up to you guys if you want to participate. Chime in on your own blog or leave your list here in the comments if you’re so inclined.