Precedent: Israeli Court Imposes Cancer Treatment on Minor Despite Family’s Opposition
A judge in Tiberias on Monday ordered doctors to begin chemotherapy and radiation treatments for a leukemia-stricken 14-year-old, against his and his parents’ wishes.
The youth was diagnosed with the life-threatening disease five years ago, and underwent a successful course of chemotherapy treatments during that period.
However, last February, the cancer cells had again multiplied and he underwent surgery to remove a growth at Bnai-Tzion Hospital in Haifa, according to Israel’s Channel Two.
His medical team’s assessment is that he must undergo a new bout of chemo and radiation before the cells spread to his bone marrow, greatly complicating his treatment and lessening his chances for survival.
His parents, however, opposed the recommended course of chemotherapy treatments, based on consultation with a rabbinic authority, according to the report, contending that, since the growth was removed, the threat had passed.
Additionally, the parents also fear that the treatments could do more harm than good, and that the radiation might leave him sterile, thereby reducing his future chances of marriage and raising a family.
The youth, who termed his previous hospitalization as “jail time,” said he preferred to play with friends, remain at home and face death from the disease, rather than undergo hospitalization, treatments and possibly die from complications.
He said he spoke with his rabbi about the predicament, and that he was instructed not to agree to hospitalization. The parents said they were willing to bring the child to twice-weekly medical checkups, and if the disease was found to have advanced, would start the chemo and radiation therapy immediately.
But, in her ruling, Judge Vered Recanati-Roshar found in favor of the attorney representing the state family services, and instructed the medical team to commence the course of treatment at once, and provide the youth and his family with psychological and social welfare services.
However, in addition to the medical treatment and emotional counseling, Recanati-Roshar also instructed the police to not allow the family to leave the country, in fear that such a drastic move to avoid the imposed treatment would endanger his health.
“Waiting will significantly endanger the minor,” the judge wrote, and said that the parents good intentions and willingness to take the child for checkups were not enough when seen against the possibility of the disease returning.