Daniel, one of eight children, has asserted that treatment would violate his religious beliefs. The teenager filed an affidavit saying that he is a medicine man and church elder in the Nemenhah, an American Indian religious organization that his parents joined 18 years ago (though they don’t claim to be Indians).
“I am opposed to chemotherapy because it is self-destructive and poisonous,” he told the court. “I want to live a virtuous life, in the eyes of my creator, not just a long life.” He also filed a “spiritual path declaration” that said: “I am a medicine man. Some times we teach, and some times we perform. Now, I am doing both. I will lead by example.”
Right. May I remind you that he’s thirteen? This is the point in life when kids tell you they want to grow up to be professional wrestlers, when their best friends are determined by age and physical proximity instead of any real affinity, when they may or may not be old enough to be left alone for long stretches without a babysitter. We don’t let thirteen-year-olds drink, vote or drive. We don’t even let them set their own bedtime on school nights.
Why is anyone asking this child his opinion of decisions that will affect his health, much less his life expectancy?
I have a post up at Quiche Moraine discussing why a local thirteen-year-old boy is not competent to decide whether to substitute “alternative healing practices” for his chemotherapy and radiation. There’s already some substantive disagreement in the comments. Feel free to weigh in.