Minor’s Refusal of Treatment Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 21 April 2017

Minor’s Refusal of Treatment

In the case of Daniel Hauser, a thirteen-year old boy from Minnesota, who was diagnosed as having Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which is considered as one of the most curable types of cancer, conflicting ethical values can be appreciated.  According to Wikipedia (2009), the principle of autonomy gives the person the right to self-determination which allows the patients to choose their own treatment.  In the case provided, the patient wishes not to endure traditional chemotherapy and radiation but instead undergo alternative medicine treatments that are yet to be proven effective by science.

Since the health care providers in the case know that this particular type of cancer is curable, they are very adamant in trying to convince the patient to undergo proper treatment.  This exemplifies the principle of beneficence, which refer to the health care providers’ actions that promote the well-being of the patient (Wikipedia 2009) while the principle of non-maleficience means that the health care providers should refrain from actions that can cause harm to the patient (Wikipedia 2009) such as deviating from the standard form of treatment.

The four senses of autonomy which are free action, effective deliberation, authenticity and moral reflection are being exercised by the patient.  Free action refers to the patient’s choice to ignore the recommendations of his health care providers and opting to do what he believes is right for him without any force or intimidation from anyone.  Effective deliberation means that the patient duly understands the facts and the risks before he made his decision in a systemic and rational way.

In our case, the patient knows the risk that he is taking when he refused medical treatments.  Authenticity means the ability of the patient to be true to his self as exemplified by his belief and claim to be a medicine man.  Moral reflection means to act on the person’s accepted after beliefs after critical assessment.  The patient believes that he is leading by example through standing firm on his decision to avoid the prescribed medical treatment and undergo alternative forms of therapy.

The case that the lawyers have against the Daniel’s parents is based on the subjective good of the patient which is the cure of his cancer through chemotherapy and radiation treatments that he simply does not prefer.  The stand of the Daniel’s parents, on the other hand, is based on the objective good of the patient, which is respecting the values and wishes of the patient to undergo alternative forms of treatment such as drinking ionized water and modifying his diet.

Although a person may be freely entitled to choose for themselves, certain liberty limiting principles should be observed.  These principles include paternalism, which justifiably restricts a person’s liberty to prevent the person from harming himself and the harm principle, which justifiably restricts a person’s liberty to prevent the person from harming others (Arisaka 2009).

The principle of paternalism can only be applied if the courts would rule in favor of the medical practitioners who are asking that the patient should be subjected to the standard treatment for Hodgkin’s disease.  The judicial system would violate the harm principle if they would allow the minor patient to choose to act on his beliefs to not undergo proper remedies because this may pave the way for other teens to have the choice to refuse treatment and simply do what they think is right for them.

Measures in order for minors to understand the gravity of their disease should be undertaken.  Participation with group discussions with others who are suffering the same illness should be encouraged in order to gain more understanding on what to expect of the disease and its treatment rather than simply being subjected to a grueling process of standard therapy without any form of support and being forced to decide based on the experience.


Arisaka (2009). Ethics. Retreived 5 June 2009 from <http://www.arisaka.org/ethics02LLP.html>

Wikipedia (2009). Medical ethics.  Retreived 5 June 2009 from



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