In what is being seen as a preview of a fully implemented Obamacare, government officials in Michigan are demanding that a 9-year-old child follow standard procedure and take a dangerous course of cancer medications that can cause additional cancer – even though the boy has had three scans indicating an absence of the disease.
The case is being fought on behalf of Ken and Erin Stieler and their son Jacob by attorneys with the Home School Legal Defense Association.
The organization concerns itself with home school rights, responsibilities and restrictions but also intercedes in cases that could have a significant impact on child and parental rights.
The HSLDA’s chairman, Michael P. Farris, confirmed today that the Michigan Department of Human Services has filed suit to force the parents to administer the chemicals to their son even though he’s been clean of cancer on scans over the past year. In addition, lower courts twice have ruled against the demands of state agency officials.
Now the state agency has filed an appeal with the Michigan Court of Appeals demanding Jacob be given the chemicals, including ifosfamide, etoposide and doxorubicin, even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration states that for ifosfamide and etoposide, the “safety and effectiveness in pediatric patients have not been established.”
The warning for doxorubicin is stronger, stating, “Pediatric patients are at increased risk for developing delayed cardiotoxicity.”
Farris told WND that the facts of the case are important, because Jacob underwent treatment for cancer and has been clean on the last three scans over the last year.
Further, the treatment demanded by the state, which insisted that prosecutors bring a medical neglect case against the parents, is not guaranteed to help and not even guaranteed to be safe.
On the HSLDA website, Farris wrote, “If they succeed they will force Jacob to resume chemotherapy despite the fact that the drugs in question are not FDA approved (either for children in general or for this particular cancer). Moreover, these drugs do not promise anything close to a guaranteed cure. And, the FDA requires the drug manufacturers to disclose that these drugs cause new cancers to form, heart disease in children, failure to sexually mature, and many other serious side effects in some cases.”
Farris told WND that there is concern about the outcome of the case, as the state’s argument is that the drugs are demanded in the “national standard of care” for the condition.
That’s the same type of concern that has been raised by many organizations and individuals about Obamacare, which is to face arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court later this month.
Farris told WND that parents have the right to make such medical decisions, not the state.
David Ackerly, director of marketing for the Michigan Department of Human Services, took a message from WND requesting comment on the case but did not respond.
Farris said it would be different if there was a clear and present medical danger, the treatment was proven and the family still refused.
He said the parents have asked for an individual evaluation of their son’s case, only to be reminded about the “standard” that the state intends to follow, which is described as dangerous.
“If we are put in a position where national standards are established, whether by practice or the government, it comes out the same,” he said.
It was in December when a trial judge dismissed a medical neglect case against the family. Now, at issue is “the ability of parents to make medical decisions contrary to the views of doctors.”
“This case may well shape parental rights principles for the long haul. We believe that parents, not doctors, should make tough decisions like this,” Farris said.
The HSLDA earlier reported how Jacob was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma, a dangerous bone cancer, and he had surgery to remove a tumor and then chemotherapy to follow up.
“The treatment was incredibly difficult, and Jacob’s mom, Erin, told me that when she looked her son in the eyes, she knew in her heart that he simply could not survive many more rounds of these drugs,” Farris reported.
They tapped into a prayer network and were joined by hundreds to pray for their son’s recovery.
“After all of these rounds of chemotherapy were completed, there was a PET scan done to check on the status of the cancer. There was no evidence of cancer detected in Jacob’s body. Jacob’s family and friends rejoiced in his healing – praising God for this wonderful outcome,” Farris said.
But he said the doctors demanded to continue chemotherapy and radiation, citing their “standard of care.”
Jacob’s parents “begged the doctors to make an individual diagnosis, rather than simply following unbending standards. But the doctors were steadfast. All children with this cancer needed multiple rounds of these drugs – regardless of PET scan results, the doctors contended,” HSLDA reported.
The parents refused, and the doctors contacted Child Protective Services to ask that the parents be charged.
When the local CPS agency and prosecuting attorney refused, the doctors called the state to pressure the agency to file charges.
Farris said key to the case, which was decided in favor of the family before being appealed, is the treating physician.
“‘Have all of these drugs been approved by the FDA as safe and effective for children?’ I asked Jacob’s treating oncologist,” he said. “‘Yes,’ she replied, they have been FDA-approved for children.”
However, according to the official package inserts mandated by the government to describe the drugs contained and their complications, she was “flat wrong,” Farris said.
“In fact, as it turned out, the treating doctor had never even seen, much less read, these official FDA-required package inserts,” he reported.
A warning accompanying another drug demanded by the doctors, vincristine, was typical of those in the case, he said.
That warning said, “Patients who received chemotherapy with vinchristine sulfate in combination with anticancer drugs known to be carcinogenic have developed second malignancies.”
“This is not an easy case. It is not a case where a child has a current illness and the treatment is tested and proven to be safe and effective – those cases are easily resolved. The best evidence is that Jacob no longer has objective evidence of cancer. And not a single drug that the doctors want to give Jacob is FDA-approved for children for his kind of cancer,” Farris said.
He said it is a judgment call, a balancing of risks, and the issue is who makes that decision.
“The doctor told me during the deposition that she thinks that she should make the call – for every child in this situation. And she would give the same answer every time, rather than making an individual judgment,” Farris wrote. “I can’t imagine a more clear case of the need for parental rights.”