Parental Rights Over Health

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Advised by my friend I am watching the documentary “You’re Killing My Son: The Mum Who Went On The Run”

She did warn me it would make me angry. It is. Angry and sad. It also makes me question things.

The basic situation is that a little boy, Neon Roberts, has a brain tumour. After having surgery to remove the tumour he was supposed to start radiotherapy to kill the cancer cells, but his mother Sally Roberts abducted him away to an alternative therapy clinic and refused to permit him have the treatment. A court ruling later and Neon was back in hospital having a second surgery as the cancer had regrown, followed by the radiotherapy he should have initially had. Sally Roberts fought it the whole way whilst her husband was granted full custody and her right to refuse was over ridden.

In this case I am fully behind the decision made. It would be lovely if oxygen tanks and healthy diets beat cancer but it’s not the case. Sally Roberts was wrong and risked her sons life in her quest to prove otherwise. Some disagree, the same people who are against vaccinating children against diseases, but sadly they’re wrong too.

The right or wrong of this case is not in question, at least not in my mind. The question is when, if ever, a parent has a right to decide to go against doctor’s recommendations? Sally Roberts was absolutely convinced that radiotherapy would destroy her son and leave him either dead or severely damaged, and therefore it’s not worth it. She’s right, there’s a chance of both, but the judge ruled that possible damage was better than certain death.

But what if it wasn’t certain death? What if the doctors advised something that would most likely have positive outcomes, but could result in damage, but not having the treatment would keep the status quo?

I usually, possibly always, fall on the belief that the doctors know better than I. I have not been to medical school, I have not trained for years, studied, researched, practiced and read. I have not continued in education as the latest treatments are launched. I also do not buy into the theory that many spout out that doctors are controlled by the pharmaceutical companies and only interested in a financial reward. Perhaps this is because my mother is a dedicated doctor and extremely good at her job as well as exceptionally caring for her patient’s well being, but ultimately I’m sure that in most cases it’s standard. But what if it was Miss Rose?

I cope with her injections because I firmly believe in the vaccination programme, I am grateful for it and have a very low opinion of those who choose to keep their children unprotected. It hurts her, she screams and cries, but it’s over quickly, she forgets it almost immediately, and she is protected from such hideous illnesses as diptheria and polio. Should she get ill, a nightmare I have, and require surgery then of course I would want her to have it. But if it was for something she could live a long and happy with without having surgery? Would I agree? If her life would be improved with surgery or drugs, but she would be fine without?

I honestly don’t know. If it were me alone I think I would be allowed to refuse so she could wait until she was an adult and able to make an informed decision. In all honesty that might be the option I would take for many things, depending on the risks, but what if my dear husband disagreed, just as in the case of Sally Roberts?

It is no wonder their relationship broke down, as do many others, when something as fundamentally important as your child’s health and well being is called into dispute. If I refused medication or treatment I know damn well I would only do it because I was terrified of anything harming her and was looking out for her best interests. But equally so if my husband wanted her to have it then it would be for the same reason.

Ultimately I believe cases like Sally Roberts’ are rare, and presented with their child’s impending death even the most staunch of conventional medication skeptics will bow before the lords of the NHS. And thank goodness for that, because believe all you like that some steamed spinach and a sniff of a burning herb candle will get rid of your diseases, but don’t expect your children to suffer because of it.

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Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!



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