Medical freedom at stake--Family forced by judge to use chemotherapy

Judge rules family can't refuse chemo for boy

MINNEAPOLIS – A Minnesota judge has ruled that a 13-year-old boy with a highly treatable form of cancer must seek conventional medical treatment over his parents' objections.

In a 58-page ruling Friday, Brown County District Judge John Rodenberg found that Daniel Hauser has been "medically neglected" and is in need of child protection services.

Rodenberg said Daniel will stay in the custody of his parents, but Colleen and Anthony Hauser have until May 19 to get an updated chest X-ray for their son and select an oncologist

The judge wrote that 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."

Daniel's court-appointed attorney, Philip Elbert, called the decision unfortunate.

"I feel it's a blow to families," he said. "It marginalizes the decisions that parents face every day in regard to their children's medical care. It really affirms the role that big government is better at making our decisions for us."

Elbert said he hadn't spoken to his client yet. The phone line at the Hauser home in Sleepy Eye in southwestern Minnesota had a busy signal Friday. The parents' attorney had no immediate comment but planned to issue a statement.

Daniel was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma and stopped chemotherapy in February after a single treatment. He and his parents opted instead for "alternative medicines" based on their religious beliefs.

Child protection workers accused Daniel's parents of medical neglect; but in court, his mother insisted the boy wouldn't submit to chemotherapy for religious reasons and she said she wouldn't comply if the court orders it.

Doctors have said Daniel's cancer had up to a 90 percent chance of being cured with chemotherapy and radiation. Without those treatments, doctors said his chances of survival are 5 percent.

Daniel's parents have been supporting what they say is their son's decision to treat the disease with nutritional supplements and other alternative treatments favored by the Nemenhah Band.

The Missouri-based religious group believes in natural healing methods advocated by some American Indians.

After the first chemotherapy treatment, the family said they wanted a second opinion, said Dr. Bruce Bostrom, a pediatric oncologist who recommended Daniel undergo chemotherapy and radiation.

They later informed him that Daniel would not undergo any more chemotherapy. Bostrom said Daniel's tumor shrunk after the first chemotherapy session, but X-rays show it has grown since he stopped the chemotherapy.

"My son is not in any medical danger at this point," Colleen Hauser testified at a court hearing last week. She also testified that Daniel is a medicine man and elder in the Nemenhah Band.

The family's attorney, Calvin Johnson, said Daniel made the decision himself to refuse chemotherapy, but Brown County said he did not have an understanding of what it meant to be a medicine man or an elder.

Court filings also indicated Daniel has a learning disability and can't read.

The Hausers have eight children. Colleen Hauser told the New Ulm Journal newspaper that the family's Catholicism and adherence to the Nemenhah Band are not in conflict, and that she has used natural remedies to treat illness.

Nemenhah was founded in the 1990s by Philip Cloudpiler Landis, who said Thursday he once served four months in prison in Idaho for fraud related to advocating natural remedies.

Landis said he founded the faith after facing his diagnosis of a cancer similar to Daniel Hauser. He said he treated it with diet choices, visits to a sweat lodge and other natural remedies.

http://www.nemenhah.org

http://www.courts.state.mn.us/?pageNewsItemDisplay&item45848

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Arrest ordered for mother of 13-year-old boy, resisting chemo
By Amy Forliti, The Associated Press

NEW ULM, Minn. - Authorities in the United States are on the lookout for a mother and her 13-year-old cancer-stricken son who fled after refusing the chemotherapy that doctors say could save the boy's life.

Colleen Hauser and her son, Daniel, who has Hodgkin's lymphoma, apparently left their southern Minnesota home sometime after a Monday doctor's appointment and X-ray showed his tumour had grown.

Brown County District Judge John Rodenberg issued an arrest warrant Tuesday for Colleen Hauser and ruled her in contempt of court. Rodenberg also ordered that Daniel be placed in foster care and immediately evaluated by a cancer specialist for treatment.

The boy's father, Anthony Hauser, testified he didn't know where his wife and son were but has made no attempt to find them. He testified he last saw his son Monday morning, and he saw his wife only briefly that evening when she said she was leaving "for a time."

Officials distributed the arrest warrant countrywide and issued a crime alert to businesses around the country, Brown County Sheriff Rich Hoffman said. He said investigators were following some leads locally, but declined to elaborate.

"It's absolutely crazy. It's very disappointing," James Olson, the lawyer representing Brown County Family Services. "We're trying to do what's right for this young man."

Daniel's Hodgkin's lymphoma is considered highly curable with chemotherapy and radiation, but the boy quit chemo after a single treatment. With his parents, he opted instead for "alternative medicines," citing religious beliefs. That led authorities to seek custody. Rodenberg last week ruled that Daniel's parents were medically neglecting their son.

The Hausers are Roman Catholic and also believe in the "do no harm" philosophy of the Nemenhah Band, a Missouri-based religious group that believes in natural healing methods advocated by some American Indians.

Colleen Hauser testified earlier that she had been treating his cancer with herbal supplements, vitamins, ionized water and other natural alternatives.

The founder of Nemenhah, Philip Landis, said it was a bad idea for Colleen Hauser to flee with her son.

"She should have gone to court," Landis said. "It's how we work these things out. You don't solve anything by disregarding the order of the judge."

And Anthony Hauser now agrees that Daniel needs to be taken back to a doctor for re-evaluation for the best treatment, said Calvin Johnson, a lawyer for the parents.

The family was due in court Tuesday to report the results of a chest X-ray and their arrangements for an oncologist. But only Daniel's father appeared. He told Rodenberg he last saw his wife Monday evening.

"She said she was going to leave," Hauser testified. "She said, 'That's all you need to know.' And that's all I know."

He said Colleen Hauser left her cellphone at their home in Sleepy Eye.

The family's doctor, James Joyce, testified by telephone that he examined Daniel on Monday, and an X-ray showed his tumour had grown to the size it was when he was first diagnosed.

"He had basically gotten back all the trouble he had in January," the doctor said.

He said Daniel was at risk of substantial physical harm and needed immediate action.