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Ethan Begrowicz

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Should Hospitals have the right to treat patients while ignoring their religious beliefs or general beliefs.

Lately, I have been reading a lot of stories of Hospitals treating very sick kids while ignoring their parents religious beliefs. Now the question I have to the TED community is do you think this is right? I believe that Hospitals should have the right to treat the sick while ignoring people's religious beliefs. Why you may ask? Because religion has not yet caught up to science. Why would anyone want to leave their life in the hands of religion which is not proven to save your life? Compared to medical treatments which are proven to give you a better chance of living. Now I am not here to offend anyone's views or beliefs I just wanted to get some feedback on this issue. My thinking is is that once my life is endangered religion is an afterthought. Thank you

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    Nov 26 2013: I think any adult has the right to renounce medical treatment out of religious believes, yet no right to transfer their beliefs on underage individuals under their responsibility.

    So the moment they endanger the life of others by their believes, not a hospital, yet society officials have not only the right but also the responsibility to take over from there to ensure the underage individuals to become at least adults themselves one day to get to decide on this matter in their behalf.
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      Dec 12 2013: So you would make all children wards of the state when it comes to medical care?
      Be careful what you wish for...
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    Nov 26 2013: In the United States, children are considered 'property' of the parents. That means that children do not have any rights to decide on medical treatments until they reach the age of accountability which is typically around 18 years of age (in some circumstances the law requires 21 years of age).

    So if a healthcare provider wishes to provide medical treatment outside of the wishes of the parents, they must remove the children from the parents via the court system. The court would award a guardian who would then make decisions for the child. All this takes a lot of money and time but is very necessary when the life of the child is at stake. However, determining the whole "life is at stake" is also difficult to do.

    So take this to the next level. What if it was your child and they had cancer. The doctors say you should have chemotherapy but you know of a child who got better with radiation. You want the radiation. The doctors say no, you have to consent to chemo for the child or they will die.

    Should the doctor step in and take your child away from you via the court system to force your child to have chemotherapy instead of radiation?

    They have to be very careful on when they decide to use this option.
    • Nov 27 2013: Right. And in recent cases that i have read about the Court has ruled in favor of the Hospitals. And thats an excellent question. Its kind of tough for me to answer that question unless im in that situation, which i never hope i am. Just because one cancer treatment works well with one child doesnt exactly mean it is going to work with my child. And part of me has to believe that the doctor is recommending the best available treatment option.
    • Nov 29 2013: Your question brings up some interesting questions. If I were the parent, a 2nd opinion would be in order if the doctors could not explain why chemo was better than radiation treatment. Some doctors do not keep up with the latest discoveries and hold on to older protocols, not necessarily bad but not the latest.

      In the question, location and type of cancer could make a difference in treatment.
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        Nov 30 2013: Of course wayne. The point is that it is always about belief. Wether you believe something will work better than something else. So it is always about belief and beliefs do not easily change. This is a matter of one belief overriding another.
  • Nov 26 2013: I fully agree with what Lejan said bellow.
    An adult should be allowed to shoot himself in the foot if he wants to, but he ought to have no right to do the same to his child.
  • Dec 11 2013: Young children do not have developed philosophies of religion. Instead they rely heavily on their parents for guidance. I believe that hospitals should respect the religious beliefs of the patient, but the patient's beliefs may not be the same as the parent's beliefs. I for one do not want my medical fate decided by my parents, since they do not share my beliefs.

    The most important aspect of this question is the welfare of the patient. If the patient is a child, any religious beliefs of the child are a result of indoctrination and can be ignored in favor of saving their life. Granted, there isn't a specific age at which you can point to at which a child gains the ability to critically analyze their beliefs. Mainly because most adults have yet to do so. Since this is about the legality of such decisions, I believe that a law should be passed that mandates a specific age before which the parents cannot prevent treatment of their child on grounds of religious observances. What age? What do you think?
    • Dec 13 2013: Does 16 sound like a good age? At least that's when I started to get interested in learning about religion and beliefs. I agree with everything you say
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    Dec 1 2013: Ethan,
    Faith healing is widely practiced by Christian Scientists, Pentecostals, the Church of the First Born, the Followers of Christ, and myriad smaller sects. Many of these believers reject all medical treatment in favor of prayer, anointing with oils, and sometimes exorcisms. Some even deny the reality of illness. When they reject medical treatment for their children, they may be guilty of negligence and homicide. Until recently, religious shield laws have protected them from prosecution; but the laws are changing, as are public attitudes. Freedom of religion has come into conflict with the duty of society to protect children. The right to believe does not extend to the right to endanger the lives of children- is like religiously motivated child abuse-.
    However faith-based organizations are lobbying for the right to treat dependents and themselves “spiritually” and with spiritual practitioners instead of Physicians. That means that if someone's child gets sick and the parents hire a “spiritual practitioner” to pray for that child and the child suffers injury or even death, the parents (in some states) will not be charged. Neither will the “practitioner.” Children can die from treatable illness and can suffer severe injury due to lack of preventative care, and because it is done in the name of religion, the state doesn't prosecute.People of Faith pay Thousands of dollars to have "someone" to pray away their illness These people are told not to see doctors and not to pray($$$) for themselves because that might “interfere.” Religious freedom or license to kill?,it's horrible.Absolutely no one,has the freedom to harm their children or dependents for any reason. The rights of one person end where the wellbeing and safety of children begin. We must choose as a society to protect children above protecting the religious rights of their parents. There can be no exception to standards of physical health and safety for children. Period.
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      Dec 9 2013: I agree. If adults prefer magic to medicine, fine, but their children should not be denied medical treatment because of their parents beliefs.
    • Dec 13 2013: I also agree. Thank you for your comments
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    Dec 11 2013: Scientific medicine constantly criticizes itself and publishes the critiques for all to see. There is NOTHING comparable in the world of alternative medicine.In the first place, how can they claim medicine does more harm than good by just listing harms? That’s like saying people buy more kumquats than artichokes and just presenting numbers for kumquat sales. You can’t say that’s “more” unless you also know what the artichoke sales figures are.All effective drugs also have side effects. It’s meaningless to count the side effects without counting the benefits. An insulin reaction counts as an adverse drug reaction, but if the patient weren’t taking insulin he probably wouldn’t be alive to have a reaction. Some of the counted drug reactions are transient minor annoyances like a rash. People have iatrogenic infections in the hospital, for instance post-op infections; but without hospitalization and surgery they might have been dead instead of infected.
    Iatrogenic deaths? How many of those were of people who would have died many years earlier without modern medical care? How many of those iatrogenic causes were high-risk treatments in high-risk patients who had no other option?
    When errors are identified, doctors take actions to prevent them. We are constantly trying to reduce the number of medication errors, the number of unnecessary surgeries, the overuse of antibiotics, etc. It’s one thing to say that more efforts are needed. It’s something else to condemn all of modern medicine because we imperfect humans have not managed to entirely eliminate all errors.I’ll be the first to admit that there is a great deal wrong with modern medicine, but it makes more sense to fix what is wrong than to reject the whole shebang. Alternative medicine is not a rational alternative; it’s a belief system with a very poor track record.How about comparing death rates with modern scientific medicine to death rates with alternative medicine and death rates with no medicine at all.
    Cheers!
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        Dec 11 2013: What I really have an issue with beyond the so-called faith healing - I mean praying is OK if that is your thing as long as you also see a Physician- Is the great gap of available quality health care amongst the population. But that is a socio-political issue out of the scope of the present forum.

        So if you or your love one is sick - praying is optional but a visit to your Physician is (imo) a must.

        Got to catch a plane, people to see places to go !!
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    Dec 11 2013: If your arm is removed in a corn picker, you're out of luck with most Gods — even all-powerful deities won't attempt a replacement for fear of a malpractice claim. I guess omnipotence just ain't what it used to be.

    Let me ask you something: If you were a Physician, had a patient with a limb that was regenerating 20 years(via faith or spiritua; healing) after it had been amputated because of trauma, and had compelling, unequivocal evidence to prove it, what would you do? I know what I’d do. I’d submit a case report to the New England Journal of Medicine! That's what I'd do. If I had the goods that proved it beyond a shadow of a doubt, It would be indeed a miracle!!!, -But none to date-

    Another infant dies due to belief in faith-healing 2009
    http://www.examiner.com/article/another-infant-dies-due-to-belief-faith-healing

    Child Fatalities From Religion-motivated Medical Neglect
    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/101/4/625.abstract

    What's the harm?
    http://whatstheharm.net/religiousfundamentalism.html

    "Do not pass by my epitaph, traveler. But having stopped, listen and learn, then go your way. There is no boat in Hades, no ferryman Charon, No caretaker Aiakos, no dog Cerberus. All we who are dead below Have become bones and ashes, but nothing else. I have spoken to you honestly, go on, traveler, Lest even while dead I seem talkative to you". -
    Ancient Roman Tomstone-

    Cheers!
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    Dec 11 2013: Praying, hoping, wishing, concentrating real hard, crossing fingers, rubbing lucky rabbits foot, throwing salt over shoulder, nailing crows to a wooden post, etc. etc. etc. --- none illegal or necessarily even wrong, but by themselves not adequate medical care for easily fixable problems.

    After a series of incidents with a local religious group resulting in death, the state government of Oregon decided in March 2011 that faith healing is not an acceptable defense against neglect charges.-wise- specially when children are involved.

    BBC London investigated Churches that declared that had cure folks infected with HIV caused three deaths
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-14406818 .

    So if the gods are in the mood to heal you then faith healing is 100% effective,if not still just as effective because is the gods will was for you not to get well. Special pleading.
    Benny Hinn was sued and lost three wrongful death law suits. (out of court settlements/ undisclosed payments). All three times, Hinn told people at his crusades they were healed of cancer or AIDS. These victims, believed the lies of Benny Hinn, stopped taking their medicine and died.-It is one thing to permit these men air time to exploit the desperate, but quite another to give them the freedom to make people believe that god is acting through them, and that they can cure some terrible affliction that they have. It is utterly irresponsible to suggest or instruct someone to dispense with normal medical practice. They should be regulated-Doctors are-
    All the prayers in the world won't replace the need for a skilled surgeon.Not going to a doctor is like asking the gods to send you a taxi when there's a bus right in front of you.
    There is no human being known to me that can cure cancers, blindness, or return the limbs to amputees by any supernatural means. There simply is no evidence that faith healing heals. Not what science considers evidence.
    Cheers!
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    Dec 10 2013: At times hopelessness & desperation make otherwise rational people vulnerable to ridiculous claims. If a cheap & easily available cancer cure were to be engineered- and at hand- let's say at any local pharmacy, there wouldn't be any cancer patients lining up at a evangelical crusades. Evangelicals faith healers are clearly taking advantage of people with chronic and terminal illnesses.
    You see religion is protected from criticism, for example it is acceptable -as a social norm in the western culture- to believe that Jesus could heal any physical disease. Now Folks will laugh at the idea of Amon-Ra or Odin performing the same miracles; What is interesting is that they are not any successful faith healers that claim to get their power from Thebes or Asgard. We in the 21st century should be able to connect the dots.

    "Science asks question that may or may not ever be answered, Religion provide answers that may never be questioned"- (side comment from notebook)

    Happy Holidays!
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    Dec 10 2013: Both religion and science are searching for truth in all the same places. Physics, especially quantum physics, is now delving into the metaphysical realm, and is suggesting that scientific 'evidence' is influenced or altered by the observers' expectations. So which came first; intuition, revelation, or expectation? Or is there even such a thing as 'first', or is the notion of past, present and future merely our perception, or our construct for dealing with a too-complex, continually unfolding 'now'; our attempt to maintain some degree of authority over issues beyond our ken?
    • Dec 10 2013: Not in the slightest, actually.
      Science is all about empirical evidence--consistently repeatable tests and experiments that you base everything on. Essentially, the result of empirical testing is considered axiomatic, and everything is built upon it. There is no metaphysics involved by definition, as those are non-testable, if they exist at all.

      Religion simply doesn't function that way. The axiom can be whatever you like, and need not conform to any empirical testing standard. The results are appropriately very different.
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        Dec 11 2013: Empirical evidence, apparently, "ain't what it used to be". In fact, it may be mass hypnosis. Subatomic particles react randomly while larger entities appear to replicate patterns when tested and observed under similar circumstances, or in similar environments.

        At the subatomic level, consistently repeatable circumstances or environments do not necessarily yield the same, or even similar, results. Repetition at this level yields random results.
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    Nov 30 2013: Religion and science are different points on the same compass. Our physical well-being reflects and is influenced by our emotional, psychological and spiritual health. It all works together and should be considered when deciding on the best path to follow.
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      Dec 9 2013: I suggest at it's core religious outlooks are the opposite of scientific outllooks.

      intuition, authority, revelation, scriptures versus evidence based knowledge.

      there may be overlap in science explaining religious and spiritual feelings etc
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    Nov 27 2013: Let me share a personal story. In the month of Sept: 2014 my grandson was admitted in one of the best hospital for seemingly ordinary appendicitis operation thru microscopy. Something went wrong, he had to undergo another microscopy, followed by an open surgery and his hospital stay stretched to 22 days. The team of specialists were doing their job, but I could see the frustration day in and day out.

    I was also worried but with my strong belief system and faith and total surrender to God, and all the prayers of relatives and well wishers, and healing practices, that in no way interfered with the medical treatment I realized that my grandson recovered. He was about to be wheeled for his fourth operation, and a miracle for me and my family, I do not know what the doctors thought about it, but I know they were all surprised, and end result the operation was postponed, and within 4 days my grandson recovered and was out of the hospital.

    This experience proves that religion, your faith and prayers, and healing plays a vital role when one's life is endangered.
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      Dec 9 2013: I'm not sure this proves anything.

      sometimes what you pray for happens. Some times it doesn't.

      no proof of A casual relationship.

      what about all the times people pray for their relatives and they die?

      The studies I'm aware of show prayer does not improve medical outcomes.
  • Nov 26 2013: Thank you for the well thought out and well written response. I could not have said it any better