MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Minnesota couple who refused chemotherapy for their 13-year-old son were ordered Friday to have the boy re-evaluated to see if he would still benefit from the cancer treatment — or if it may already be too late.
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 and acted in good faith. But he gave them until Tuesday to get an updated chest X-ray and select an oncologist.
If the tumor has not grown and if Daniel’s prognosis remains 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. It was unclear how the medicine would be administered if the boy fights it.
Calvin Johnson, an attorney for Daniel’s parents, said the family is considering an appeal. For now, he said, Daniel is following the order and will have X-rays Monday.
Daniel was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in January, and it was recommended he have six rounds of chemotherapy. He underwent one round in February but stopped after that single treatment. He and his parents opted instead for “alternative medicines,” citing religious beliefs.
Doctors have said Daniel’s cancer had a 90 percent chance of being cured with chemotherapy and radiation. Without those treatments, doctors said his chances of survival are 5 percent. Child-protection workers accused Daniel’s parents of medical neglect and went to court seeking custody.
Court testimony indicated Daniel’s tumor shrank after the first round of chemo but has since grown. 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.
Rodenberg wrote that state statues require parents to provide necessary medical care for a child. The statutes say alternative and complementary health-care methods aren’t enough.
“If the Minnesota Legislature ever reconsiders the relevant statutes, I am confident that I join all of the others involved in this matter in hoping, and indeed in praying, that Daniel Hauser lives to testify at that hearing,” Rodenberg said.
Rodenberg found Daniel has only a “rudimentary understanding at best of the risks and benefits of chemotherapy. ... he does not believe he is ill currently. The fact is that he is very ill currently.”
Because of that, and other evidence in the case, Rodenberg said the state’s interest in protecting the child override the constitutional right to freedom of religious expression and a parent’s right to direct a child’s upbringing.
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