Posts Tagged “antimedicine”

The case of Daniel Hauser — the Minnesota boy I blogged about already, whose family has used its (questionable) Nemenhah “religion” as a pretense for not treating his Hodgkin’s lymphoma — has taken a strange turn, as the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports:

The father of Daniel Hauser said today he believes his son and his wife have left the country, but won’t say where he thinks they have gone to keep out of reach of authorities.

“I have an opinion where they are, but I can’t say I know,” said Anthony Hauser, adding that he has placed a call to a telephone where he believes he can reach them. …

Despite state and national crime alerts that were issued Tuesday afternoon, the Brown County sheriff’s office reported late this morning that the boy and his mother haven’t been found. Daniel’s case is attracting intense worldwide news media attention.

Colleen Hauser defied a court order when she disappeared Monday.

The family, of course, still is in rigid and fierce denial that there is anything wrong with Daniel:

Hauser said he and his wife are open to treating Daniel with a combination of low doses of chemotherapy and alternative medical treatments.

“Where’s the reasoning here?” he said of the doctors’ position. “There is none.”

Mr Hauser, let me help you with the doctors’ “reasoning.” They are the credentialed medical experts. You are not. They are the ones who’ve successfully treated other people for Hodgkin’s lymphoma. You have not.

Was that simple enough for you to follow, Mr Hauser? Good.

The Star Tribune goes on to say that officials claim they guessed the Hausers might pull a stunt like this:

County officials had “kind of suspected this would happen,” Hoffmann said of the Hausers’ disappearance. “But we had no legal grounds to do anything” preemptive.

Actually, there’s no reason they could not have staked out the Hausers’ home — if they truly suspected this — so they’d know their whereabouts at all times and could intercept them if needed. What I suspect is that officials were caught off-guard and are only now claiming to have been suspicious of them.

The Hausers are apparently getting help in killing their kid:

t said they may be in the company of Susan Daya, also known as Susan Hamwi, a California attorney who accompanied them to a medical appointment Monday.

It also said they might be with a man named Billy Joe Best, who appeared at a news conference held by the family in early May to say he supported the Hausers.

How wonderful of these two people to be complicit in the attempted (so far) killing of Daniel Hauser and defiance of a Minnesota state court.

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A Minnesota judge recently decided that Daniel Hauser, a boy who has Hodgkin’s lymphoma, must resume chemotherapy treatment for his illness in spite of his espoused Nemenhah religious beliefs against doing so (here’s a report by the Pioneer Press):

Judge John Rodenberg said in a 58-page ruling that there is overwhelming medical evidence Daniel Hauser most likely will live if he receives the treatment and die if he doesn’t. …

After receiving one chemotherapy treatment in February, Daniel suffered some chest pain and other symptoms, and refused the remaining five recommended treatments.

Daniel and his parents instead pursued alternatives that included diet, vitamins and ionized water — stating they belonged to the Nemenhah, a quasi-American Indian spiritual group that opposes medical care that can harm the body.

Let me note, first, that it’s refreshing to see Minnesota chooses not to follow the Texas legal philosophy that it is acceptable to injure or even kill people if it’s part of a religious observance. (Texas can be a very dangerous state!)

I suppose it would be easy for me to condemn the Hauser family for putting their metaphysics ahead of their child’s life … but I’m not at all sure that’s what’s going on here. Daniel’s objections to chemotherapy are, quite frankly, all over the map, as the story mentions. The chronologically-oldest objection was this:

After receiving one chemotherapy treatment in February, Daniel suffered some chest pain and other symptoms, and refused the remaining five recommended treatments.

I can definitely believe that side-effects of chemo are tough to deal with. No doubt about it. But the side-effects of chemo need to be weighed against the consequence of not treating Hodgkin’s … which is death. Daniel’s next objection was:

Daniel and his parents instead pursued alternatives that included diet, vitamins and ionized water — stating they belonged to the Nemenhah, a quasi-American Indian spiritual group that opposes medical care that can harm the body.

This is the point where the Nemenhah religious beliefs came into play. One must wonder whether this was merely a legalistic justification for refusing treatment rather than a genuine belief. That Daniel himself could not explain Nemenhah suggests exactly this:

A turn in the trial came Saturday when an attorney appointed by the court to represent Daniel’s interests said he doubted the “genuineness” of the boy’s spiritual beliefs based on his own closed-door testimony to the judge.

In his final argument, attorney Thomas Sinas noted that Daniel couldn’t even read his own written statement to the court in which he claimed his Nemenhah faith. Daniel also had testified that he only recently became a medicine man when his mother told him he was one.

(Note, in Nemenhah, even 13-year-old boys can be “medicine men.”)

Daniel even denied he was sick at all, in order to justify not getting chemo; Judge Rodenberg wrote:

However, he does not believe he is ill currently. The fact is that he is very ill currently.

“He has Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which is apparently not in remission from the available evidence.”

So Daniel even engaged in the age-old psychological tactic of “denial” in order not to have to get the treatment. In fact, the true reason Daniel objected came out in the judge’s questioning:

The judge asked him specifically why he didn’t want chemotherapy.

“Because I didn’t like the idea of it,” he responded.

“OK. I have to say at age 13, I probably wouldn’t have known anything about chemotherapy,” the judge said, “so I need to know from you what you knew about it at that point in time and why you didn’t want it.”

“Because (of) all the side effects.”

“How did you know that?”

“My mom told me.”

Daniel also discussed an aunt who died amid chemotherapy treatments for a different kind of cancer. Daniel was about 5 years old at the time.

“Did you see her when she was having chemotherapy?” the judge asked.

“Yes,” Daniel stated.

“What did you see?”

“She was really sick. She was sick, and I didn’t want to go through what she had to go through.”

So there you have it. Daniel doesn’t want chemo because his mother told him it was bad, and also because of an aunt’s bad experiences with it (which, quite possibly, is the reason his mother told him it was bad). I have to wonder how much “Nemenhah beliefs” had to do with this; it sure looks like a legal contrivance to me. Rather than help the boy deal with the side-effects of chemotherapy — which would have been the responsible thing to do — the family chose, instead, to indulge his fears and try to prevent him from getting care that will save his life.

Pathetic.

As for the “Nemenhah faith,” I’ve tried to find out what it is. There’s precious little objective information about it. As near as I can discover it was founded by a man named Phillip “Cloudpiler” Landis around 2001, as a way of promoting “natural” remedies (he’s a naturopath). The Nemenhah Band (as the Missouri group calls itself) has a mix of native American and pseudo-Mormon beliefs, although neither native Americans nor the LDS Church have anything to do with them.

Given the odd and dubious nature of “the Nemenhah Band” itself, as well as the dubiousness of the Hausers’ own belief in Nemenhah in the first place, I suspect that religion played little or no role in this affair, except to serve as a legal pretense.

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