Inthe previous thirty years, over 200 children have died in the UnitedStates alone of curable diseases just because their parents rely onspiritual healing instead of the conventional methods available.Several states have gone further to put in place laws that protectparents from prosecution when their offspring pass on due toinhibited medical care. However, physicians and citizens areduty-bound to make a choice between protecting children and the rightto practice the preferred religion. So as to make such toughdecisions and defend them, healthcare professionals must understandthe background of this phenomenon and the legal aspects surroundingsuch cases (Antommaria & Weise, 2013). In this way, ethicalconstructs can be developed to ensure balance. This paper delvesdeeper into the ethical issues surrounding the case of Mike and hiswife who feel it is their obligation to put their trust entirely onspirituality despite risking the life of their child. The moralissues together with Christian principles and values have tremendousimplications on decision making, and as discussed, the two usuallycause tension between religious autonomy and a doctor’srecommendation.
Under the Christian Narrative and Christian Vision, What Sorts of Issues are most Pressing in this Case Study?
Manypressing issues can be observed to be associated with this particularinstance. First and foremost, it is important to realize thatChristianity as a faith is composed of several versions. Each andevery denomination has its interpretation of the Bible. Protestants,Catholics, Baptists and other religions have different beliefs andways of doing things compared to other faiths such as Presbyterian,seventh-Day Adventists and so on. Due to these different dimensions,some denominations emphasize on the fact that physicians andscientists are placed in the world by God to offer healing (ortreatment) for the people through God’s guidance. Essentially, thistranslates to the receiving of medical care for adverse healthconditions or prevention as the right thing to do. On the other hand,other faiths firmly and strictly believe that God is the one whoheals and therefore there should be no external interference bydoctors. An example of such a denomination is the Jehovah’s Witness(Petrini, 2014).
Assuch, this explanation is what brings us to the central issue in thiscase. The Christian aspects concerning morality and ethics embeddedwithin Mike and his wife are displayed when they choose to foregotreatment based on their spiritual beliefs alone. In this way, theyend up endangering the life of their child who is innocent anddoesn’t have much to say about his health. It is clear that evenwhen there is a little bit of hope in kidney transplanting, thefamily is still blinded by spirituality to the extent of stillfinding such a solution to be a dilemma. Another issue is alsoevident when it comes to the part of kidney donation. The seriousethical concerns are further heightened since the brother is not oldenough to consent his donation, a fact that could have serious legalas well as health implications.
Should the Physician Allow Mike to Continue Making Decisions that Seem to Him to be Irrational and Harmful to James?
Basedon the case study, one can agree without a doubt that both theparents and physician are focusing on the well-being of the childJames. However, the point of conflict arises when the parents’options are clearly against what the doctor recommends. This is not anew occurrence. The conflict between religion and medical care hasexisted for a long time and usually, the doctors are burdened withthe challenge of not only enlightening the parents, but also going anextra mile when things seem to get out of hand. Mike and Joanne wantto follow the will of God, and in the process, their hesitationcauses, even more, damage to the child. As if this is not enough, heis still dilly-dallying on a final hope of kidney transplant, which,if delayed, the outcome will be a fatal one. The principle ofbeneficence comes into play at this juncture. The doctor is taskedwith the responsibility of explaining the situation candidly andgiving all the relevant options, risks, and benefits. Additionally,he is also required to understand the autonomy of the parents whohave a say in the procedures of treatment. Taking this view intoconsideration, the doctor may at a certain point be compelled toprotect the child by reporting the situation to relevant authorities(Antommaria & Weise, 2013). Once investigations are done, and itis evident that the child is in imminent danger, the physician isethically justified to go on with the procedure that can save lifedespite parental objection. However, it is usually difficult toascertain when the prognosis is sufficient to warrant judicialintervention (Huntington & Scott, 2015).
According to the Christian Narrative and the Discussion of the Issues of Treatment Refusal, Patient Autonomy, and Organ Donation in the Topic Readings, How Might One Analyze this Case?
Thisis a case that is surrounded by not one, but more than two ethicalissues. This, therefore, means that the problem requires theapplication of both religious beliefs and science to make decisions.Believing in God’s healing power is not wrong, but it raises theconcern about having a view that completely discredits scientificresearch and medical care. Both Mike and Joanne believe in God andthe Bible as their guide. As such, when faced with their son’sillness, they decide to rely on the hope of a miracle, hencerejecting medical treatment and opting for prayer instead. Anin-depth analysis reveals that their decision is downright unethical.Not only does it cause harm to the child, but it also indicates thelack of understanding of the situation and possibly blindly followingthat particular religion irrationally. One can, therefore, claim thatthe parents made the wrong choice opting for a miracle since at theend of the day it led to endangering the life of their son James.
According to the Topic Readings and Lecture, How Ought the Christian to Think About Sickness and Health? What should Mike as a Christian do? How should he Reason About Trusting God and Treating James?
InChristian living, the importance of creating a balance betweenspirituality and the physical life cannot be overemphasized.Believing in God has its benefits compared to the belief in otherpeople. As such, Christians are responsible for following and puttingtheir trust in God while at the same time ensuring that they takecharge of their lives in a sensible manner. It is equally importantto uphold ethical principles in decision-making so that both theChristians and medical practitioners arrive at a consensus. Intotality, ethics is doing that which is right not only in a Christianperspective but also in the day-to-day life decisions (Thomas, 2015).Based on the above explanation, the reason for trusting God and thetreatment of James should have been centered on the fact thatphysicians are people who are used by God to diagnose and recommendtreatment hence achieving healing. Just like Church Ministers who areutilized by the Almighty to preach and minister, the medicalpractitioners, scientists, and researchers are all part of thesociety whom God has placed to help the people.
Antommaria, A.H. & Weise, L.K. (2013). Conflicts Between Religious or Spiritual Beliefs and Pediatric Care: Informed Refusal, Exemptions, and Public Funding. Pediatrics, 962-965.
Huntington, C. & Scott, E. (2015). Children’s Health in a Legal Framework. Future of Children, 177-197.
Petrini, C. (2014). Ethical and legal aspects of refusal of blood transfusions by Jehovah’s Witnesses, with particular reference to Italy. Blood Transfusion, 395-401.
Thomas, J. (2015). Parental refusal: legal and ethical considerations. Southern African Journal of Anaesthesia and Analgesia, 34-36.