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Twelve-year-old Parker Jensen apparently won’t be starting the new school year anytime soon. He and his mother have been forced into hiding because his parents have refused to subject him to chemotherapy – a treatment authorities in Utah have legally mandated for the boy.
Parker has been diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a deadly form of bone cancer, ABC News reported. His parents, Daren and Barbara, wanted to get a second opinion from a doctor after receiving the first recommendation of chemotherapy.
Authorities in Utah, however, had different plans. They obtained an order from a Salt Lake City court compelling the parents to have Parker undergo the treatment. The only options, the parents believed, was to flee the state with their boy.
According to family members, the Jensens are not convinced the initial diagnosis made three months ago was even correct.
“Ewing’s sarcoma normally appears in the bone, but Parker’s was a tumor in the mouth,” Parker’s uncle, Tracy Jensen, told ABC. “The hospital wanted chemotherapy right away. But we wanted a second opinion. They wouldn’t let us get one, and before you knew it, my brother and his family were on the run.”
According to the report, doctors at Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City said Parker has only a 5 percent chance of survival without the chemo.
On Aug. 16, a day after prosecutors filed kidnapping charges against the parents, Daren Jensen was arrested in Idaho and, reports ABC, is fighting extradition back to Utah.
The parents allowed the tumor in Parker’s mouth to be successfully removed, but were unconvinced painful chemotherapy was needed as a follow-up.
“There is no scientific evidence whatsoever that you need chemotherapy for this particular kind of basically mild cancer,” Rick Jaffe, the family lawyer, told the network. “All the evidence really relates to this full-blown bone involvement where you have very sick kids.”
Jaffe explained the family has a pediatric oncologist lined up to give them a second opinion and treat Parker, but the charges against the parents prevent them from seeing him.
“The problem is, we can’t bring him to him, because as soon as we show up, the mother will be arrested and the child hauled off by force to Utah,” the lawyer said.
According to the report, Jaffe says if the mother shows up at any hospital, she will be subject to arrest since the parents are “fugitives from the law.”
The state Attorney General’s office defends the government’s action against the Jensens.
“We are very concerned with the health of this young boy and the surrounding issues of state power vs. parental responsibility,” the office said in a statement. “Parents have a natural and fundamental right to direct the medical care of their child – but if in making that decision they place the child’s very life in substantial danger, the Supreme Court has determined that the State has an obligation to step in. In other words, a child has a fundamental right, independent of a parent’s wishes, to live.”
Parker’s uncle explained the boy’s parents believe Parker will get worse and may die if subjected to chemotherapy.
“Chemotherapy is a horrible and painful thing to deal with, especially for a child,” he told ABC. “It may also leave him sterile and stunt his growth. We want other options. And we fear it will take him to the brink of death, and we don’t want that, especially when there is no evidence that his cancer is what the doctors say it is.”
According to the report, Jaffe believes the best solution for everyone would be for the police to drop the charges and allow the family to return to Utah so Parker could undergo other tests at another hospital.