Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Libertarianism Gone Mad

Do parents have a right to sacrifice their children's lives on the altar of their own ignorance?

Utah Won't Order Cancer Treatment for Boy

By CHRISTOPHER CLARK, Associated Press Writer

SALT LAKE CITY - Utah officials have backed off trying to require a boy diagnosed with terminal cancer to undergo chemotherapy, though a juvenile court judge could still order the treatment. The state also is no longer seeking to take Parker Jensen, 12, from his parents, Daren and Barbara Jensen, who fled the state with their son. The Jensens have said they fear the treatment would stunt Parker's growth and leave him sterile.

Because of his parents' fierce resistance to chemotherapy — recommended by at least four doctors — Parker probably wouldn't benefit from the treatment because of his unreceptive psychological state, said Carol Sisco, a spokeswoman for the Division of Children and Family Services.

The boy's court-appointed attorney in the custody dispute also relented. "My client's been placed in a position where it's almost untenable for him to get medical treatment," said Mollie McDonald.

Daren Jensen said he is skeptical of the state's intentions and reiterated his desire to be in charge of his son's medical treatment, according to Tuesday editions of The Salt Lake Tribune.

"It is time for the parents to take control and move forward," he said.

The Jensens want to pursue alternative treatments for Parker, diagnosed earlier this year with Ewing's sarcoma. They fled Utah in August after the state ordered them to relinquish custody to the state so he could receive chemotherapy. They were charged with kidnapping but later surrendered.

In exchange for keeping Parker, the parents agreed to a new round of tests by an Idaho oncologist, Dr. Martin Johnston, and to abide by his treatment recommendation.

Johnston recommended an 11-month regimen of chemotherapy, but the Jensens maintain new tests do not show signs of cancer in Parker's body.

"They agreed in court that they would follow the doctor's recommendations. They've now said they won't do that. So what can we do?" Sisco said. "Do we take him in custody and force him into chemotherapy? We just don't think that will work."

Daren Jensen told that newspaper that he and his wife have not violated the legal agreement. The Jensens have said they felt coerced to sign the agreement.

"We just told them we would never be happy, nor be convinced that what they were doing was right. We never said we would not comply," he told the newspapers.(emphases added)

These two fools who call themselves parents are going to be allowed to get away with killing their boy, despite the unanimous recommendations of four doctors, simply because state officials wish to make some sort of ridiculous genuflection towards libertarianism, never mind that when it comes to far less critical matters of sexuality and drug use, such open-mindedness gets thrown out of the window. And what sense does it make for anyone to worry about the possible side-effects of chemotherapy on a child's growth and fertility, when going without it almost certainly means he won't be around to finish growing, to attempt to fertilize anyone else, or to do much of anything at all in the long run, other than rot in a cemetary plot?

I followed a discussion over at Reason's Hit and Run weblog over this very issue some time back, and I must say that the crazy, stupid remarks made by many self-proclaimed "libertarians" in the course of that debate are just the sorts of ideologically-inspired nonsense that keep me from wearing the "libertarian" label with full conviction. Ideology should not be turned into a straitjacket on thought, nor venerated as if it were a religious dogma, and there are times when government intervention is simply the right thing to do; this particular case presents one such occasion.