The good news is that Starchild Abraham Cherrix and his family finally found a judge brave enough to lift the lower court order that would have forced him to undergo chemotherapy for his cancer. The bad news is that it's a temporary reprieve; he'll have to fight the battle again in court next month.

Abraham is not the only teen who has had to spend precious energy, resouces, and especially time fighting for the right to choose or refuse medical treatment. (See also Who Will Make Medical Decisions for You and Your Family?) That he has the full support of his family in his decision matters not to the social workers; they saw that as a reason to attempt to take custody of Abraham themselves.

This is not a diatribe against chemotherapy, which has been life-saving for many. But the right to make medical decisions, large and small, belongs to the individual, or in the case of a minor, his family. The courts should never have become involved in the first place, since Abraham and his family agree. Maybe they are wrong. Maybe their alternative treatment will lead to his death, and chemotherapy would cure him. But we have the right to be wrong. Even if a person chooses no treatment at all, prefering a shortened life to the agonies of therapy, that decision should be between him and his family.

If it weren't so serious, it would be amusing to consider the statements made by "experts" who insist that a 16-year-old is too young to make his own life-or-death decisions. You can't tell that to a genealogist. At that age, many of our ancestors were married, having babies, fighting in wars, and traveling thousands of miles away from home—and doing it quite capably, I might add.

How did we get to the point where our society can with one breath say a 12-year-old girl has the right to "control her own body" to the extent of having an abortion without so much as parental knowledge, let alone consent, and in the next deny a 16-year-old boy the right to refuse, with his parents' agreement, a painful and dangerous medical procedure?
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, July 26, 2006 at 1:54 pm | Edit
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Amen! I've been watching that story as well, horrified that such a thing could happen in a "free" country such as the USA. On the topic of minors' rights, I found an interesting group called ASFAR which advocates legal equality for all regardless of age. My first reaction is that they are taking a good idea a little too far... what do you think?

Posted by Peter V on Wednesday, July 26, 2006 at 4:45 pm
Thanks for the link. I have mixed feelings, as you might expect. For a long time I have said that age is one of the worst criteria for inclusion in a group, having had two children who were perennially coming up against age barriers that excluded them from activities at their level of ability. But the simple example of children's choir at church serves to show why ASFAR has a tough battle. Musically and behaviorally our girls should have been in a more challenging group for most of their long career as choristers. Yet the director (a gifted, dedicated woman) refused to use anything other than age as criterion, on the grounds that no one could argue with it. If she tried to base the decision on merit in any way, she would be flooded with arguments from parents about where their children belonged. She didn't want to deal with it. And our society has proven many times over that discrimination based on ability is a very sticky subject indeed.

I disagree with ASFAR on the capital punishment issue, but think they're quite right to abolish compulsory schooling. I have a friend who believes there should be no minimum voting age -- but then he seems to think that what matters is voting, not voting intelligently. I personally would like to see many of these issues left up to the family (e.g. whether or not a child can drink alcohol or see an R-rated movie) rather than the state. But I'd be afrain a blanket removal of all discrimination based on age would really open the doors for child pornographers.

Posted by SursumCorda on Wednesday, July 26, 2006 at 9:33 pm
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