Children have rights; they deserve treatment

An ongoing, interesting and painful legal issue involves the rights of parents when it comes to their children’s medical treatments. An Ohio case is the most recent to highlight whether parents can deny children treatments recommended by their doctors, with a hospital seeking guardianship to make sure a 10-year-old girl gets the chemotherapy her doctors advise.

Minnesota has been the scene of two high-profile cases in recent years. Both involved chemotherapy, with a court ordering treatment that saved the children’s lives. The parents had wanted to use alternative therapies, such as methods advocated by an American Indian religious group. A parent in that case was concerned because chemotherapy had made her child sick; something chemo is known to do.

It is difficult for us to fathom parents who do not wish to utilize modern medical advances. More importantly, we can’t imagine sentencing a child to death because parents do not want to see them undergo treatments that work, even though the medicine can be harsh. While we understand that children are and should be their parents’ responsibility, that reality includes the notion that parents must be responsible. A child isn’t a toy. He or she is another human being who possesses human rights, such as the right to life.

We believe courts act responsibly and wisely when they say children deserve proper medical treatment.