Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Pray This Never Happens to You

In my previous post on state involvement in the affairs of the family I stated,

When a person commits a criminal act the state intervenes - that's the line and not before... Who has the compelling interest when the government's interests conflict with the family's interest? They cannot be equal partners in family decisions. One must defer to the other. In Amercia we give deference to the liberty of the private citizen to direct their own family.
Or at least that's the way it's supposed to be. One Virginia homeschool family is discovering that this isn't always the case. Starchild Abraham Cherrix, age 16, is refusing traditional treatment to fight his cancer and instead he is opting for dietary changes and visits to a clinic in Mexico. This is the young man's second bout with Hodgkins disease, a cancer of the lymph nodes. A state social worker has asked a judge to force the child to go through the conventional treatment.

In May the judge issued a temporary order finding Jay and Rose Cherrix neglectful for supporting their son's choice to pursue alternatives. Judge Jesse E. Demps also ordered the parents to share custody of Abraham with the Accomack County Department of Social Services; they face losing custody completely.

"What it boils down to is does the American family have the right to decide on the health of their child or is the government allowed to come in and determine that themselves and threaten one way or the other to split our family up?" Jay Cherrix said Tuesday night. Barry Taylor, the family's attorney, said the case had major ramifications not only in Virginia, but across the nation, when it comes to parents' rights to determine what is best for their children.

Stop and think about that for a minute. A judge in America has ordered these homeschooling parents to share custody with the state simply for making a medical decision. And possibly lose custody completely. These moral dilemmas are a natural consequence when one believes that the state has an right to be involved in the private affairs of the family.

Who is the final authority?

These parents are not doing anything criminal. It is a difference of opinion and the state consider's that neglectful. Sadly, instead of using all of their energy and resources to fight the cancer they must also fight the state. The judge will issue a written decision on July 18.

And in the words of his father, "Pray this never happens to you."

How far are is Abraham Cherrix willing to go? From the Today Show interview (HT: Rebelution),

CURRY: If the judge rules against Abraham's decision, if he says that Abraham cannot make this decision and he tries to force Abraham to go through chemotherapy, I guess, Abraham, the question is: Are you willing to go to jail
for this, or, I guess, also, are your parents willing to go for--to jail for this? Abraham, you first.

Mr. A. CHERRIX: Yes, I'm willing--I am to do that because I obeyed the law by what they say. At least I try to as best as I can. If they want to put me in a juvenile detention, there's really nothing I can do about it, and I will--I will have faith that my parents will get me out. And if they take my parents away, then I will do everything in my power to help them.

We'll see what happens next week now that the judge has ruled in the state's favor.

Susan at Corn and Oil shares some more of her thoughts here and here.

Update 7/21: The judge has finally issued his ruling Abraham Cherrix must undergo chemo. This update contains phone numbers for the judge and the VA statute on emancipation for a minor. Click here.

Update 7/25: The Cherrix family is meeting with another judge today (7/25) at 12 Noon. They hope to be able to stay the order for treatment until an appeal can be made. More links and information are in this post. Abraham set to refuse chemo.

UPDATE 7/25: Good News! The judge has set aside the order.

(HT: Jacob's Academy)

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