Parental Decisions about Medical Care

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The rights of children and the rights of parents can sometimes cause conflict. A common conflict is in disagreements regarding medical treatment. The book “The Sprit Catches You and You Fall Down” details a conflict over the medical treatment of a Hmong girl with epilepsy. Her parents’ cultural and religious beliefs about medicine are very different from western beliefs. The extent of these differences is detailed in the movie Split Horn which shows a shaman healer from traditional Hmong culture. The language barrier and cultural differences make it impossible for Lia’s parents to understand her physicians. They often interfere with the medical care which Lia desperately needs because of their religious beliefs and misunderstanding. Society, however, has a stake in protecting every child. Ours is a secular society that relies on modern medicine to insure children’s health. Due to this, we do not place the religious beliefs of parents above the shared responsibility of protecting a child’s health. Parents do not have the right to refuse medical treatment for their child. Parents’ religious beliefs should be respected by society but a child can not truly belong to a religion until he or she has reached adulthood and chosen to believe. Therefore, decisions regarding medical care should be logical and rational.

Lia’s conflict is the result of two cultures colliding: the traditional Hmong culture and the American culture. It consists of speaking English, having at least a high school education, and trusting and obeying authority figures like physicians. A mainstream American family would be able to communicate and understand physicians. They would have a basic understanding of science and the human body. This would give them the un...

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...any religion, even to the point of death. Children are not on the same intellectual level as adults. They lack the knowledge and experience to follow a religion to the extreme of death. A choice of such magnitude is not a choice anyone, not even a parent can make for a child. The Lees overstepped their rights as parents when they attempted to block Lia’s medical treatment. They did not mean to overstep, but they did, and by doing so they prevented the physicians from finding the correct dosage of medicines to prevent Lia’s seizures in time to prevent brain damage. The state was justified in removing Lia from her parents’ custody.

Works Cited

Fadiman, Anne. The Spirt Catches You and You Fall Down. Farrar Straus & Giroux , 2001. Print

Split Horn. Dir. Taggart Siegel. Perf. Taggart Siegel, Sarita Siegel and Jim McSilver. PBS. 2002. Film

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