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I have the greatest respect for modern, orthodox medicine, but not much for its doctors who arrogantly assume they know it all. The doctors in Canada who have asked a judge to force the parents of a young ‘first nation’ girl to let her have chemotherapy for cancer, probably mean well, and believe their way is the right way. That’s not because they can give any guarantees. It’s because it’s the only way they know. They also know full well that chemotherapy is a very toxic therapy with a checkered survival record. It often causes side effects so severe many cancer patients say the therapy is worse than the disease. One of those side effects is premature death. The parents want their daughter to be treated according to their centuries-old traditional healing. They have every right to choose a gentler path that has stood the test of time to try to save their child from cancer. Luckily for them, the judge in this case the judge agrees. MS
OTTAWA – A judge in Canada has rejected a bid by doctors to force an aboriginal girl into chemotherapy treatment in a groundbreaking ruling that affirms the right to pursue traditional healing over mainstream medicine.
The decision allows the parents of the 11-year-old girl to pursue a course of cancer treatment rooted in their centuries-old native traditions, but critics warn the unproven treatment risks the girl’s life.
Doctors at McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario sued to have her placed in protective custody in order to force her into care after the family removed her from their care. Government child protection services had refused to intervene, citing indigenous peoples’ rights, and concerns about splitting her from a loving family as would be required if she had orthodox treatment.
Doctors insisted that chemotherapy had a very high chance of curing her before she quit treatment in August.
“I cannot find that (the girl) is a child in need of protection when her (mother) has chosen to exercise her constitutionally protected right to pursue their traditional medicine over the (doctors’) stated course of treatment of chemotherapy,” Ontario Court Justice Gethin Edward was quoted as saying by public broadcaster CBC.
Another aboriginal girl whose parents pursued the same alternative treatments for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia is now reportedly critically ill. Critics have urged the McMaster doctors to appeal the ruling, while outside the court the family’s supporters cheered.
(Media reports have since indicated that the hospital will not be appealing the ruling.)
“This is monumental,” said New Credit First Nations Chief Bryan Laforme. “It reaffirms our right to be Indian and to practice our medicines in the traditional way.”
The Ontario Children’s Aid Society also applauded the outcome saying it will spare the girl the “trauma” of being separated from her family during treatment. – © 1994-2014 Agence France-Presse, with Marika Sboros
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