Cancer Treatment: State and Individual Position

The State’s Position

The state’s position is that every child diagnosed with cancer should be subjected to conventional cancer treatments with or without the parent’s approval. The rationale for the stand is that cancer patients under this treatment have a higher 5-year survival rate than their counterparts who use alternative cures (Johnson et al., 2018). This is a highly controversial position since the motive behind the mandatory subjection to treatment is unclear. The state’s stance on compulsory cancer treatment for minors could be because they have their best interest at heart and want to increase their survival chances. The state’s position protects minors who have negligent parents and has the implication of preventing responsible parents who are skeptical of the conventional treatments from seeking alternative treatments that could help their children.

Individual’s Positions

Abraham Cherrix’s case

In Abraham’s case, his parents enrolled him in conventional cancer treatment after finding Abraham had cancer. However, after the first round of chemotherapy, Abraham’s parents realized there was no improvement, and they were against the recommendation of a higher dose of chemotherapy and radiation since Abraham barely survived the first round. The state sued Abraham’s parents for negligence and wanted them to lose custody when they tried to seek other forms of treatment for Abraham after realizing that natural cancer treatments could work. Abraham’s parents were committed to ensuring that he gets the best and the most effective treatment available, but the state sued them for seeking treatments non-conventional treatment.

Daniel Hauser’s case

Daniel’s mother denied him any form of cancer treatment and even fled to avoid being compelled by the court to continue treatment for her son despite his longevity being dependent on the intervention. She was against his son going through chemotherapy and radiation treatment despite the improvements observed. Daniel’s mother did not have her son’s best interest at heart when she decided to pull him out of treatment. The state sued Daniel’s mother for the negligence of her son’s condition.


In a democratic country, the principle of autonomy, especially in the healthcare setting, should be taken seriously. Notably, it requires that a person make an informed decision on their preferred treatment. In the case of minors’ consent, the treatment should be sought from the surrogate, which is usually the parent or guardian (Jennings, 2016). Abraham’s case is different from Daniel’s case in the sense that, in the former situation, the state took the role of the surrogate and compelled Abraham to continue with treatment despite the first round of treatment is unsuccessful. Abraham’s parents ought to have been allowed to act on their informed decision and seek alternative treatments to help Abraham. In Daniel’s case, the surrogate (Daniel’s mother) decided to halt treatment despite positive progress. This was not in the best interest of the patient (Daniel), and it illustrates the main drawback of autonomy.

From Abraham’s case, it can be established that the state’s decision to try to compel Abraham’s family to continue with the conventional treatment that did more harm than good, was not in Abraham’s best interest and therefore wrong. In Daniel’s case, the state’s decision of compelling his mother to allow the resumption of treatment was the right call because it was in Daniel’s best interest since the treatment had previously proved to be effective. From the two cases, we can establish that the state’s position to force conventional cancer treatment on minors diagnosed with cancer can either be beneficial or wrong depending on how the patient responds to treatment. The patient’s response to conventional cancer treatments should be considered before trying to compel them to continue.


Jennings, B. (2016). Reconceptualizing autonomy: A relational turn in bioethics. Hastings Center Report, 46(3), 11-16. Web.

Johnson, S. B., Park, H. S., Gross, C. P., & Yu, J. B. (2018). Use of alternative medicine for cancer and its impact on survival. JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 110(1), 121-124. Web.

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