28 Oct 2010

Mother testifies that religious beliefs prevent her son from taking chemotherapy for cancer

The Star Tribune Minneapolis-St. Paul May 8, 2009

Doctors said he will likely die without it.

by Maura Lerner | Star Tribune


The mother of 13-year-old Daniel Hauser testified Friday that she and her son would refuse to comply with any court order requiring the boy to resume chemotherapy for his cancer.

"Danny clearly made up his mind. He's not doing it,'' Colleen Hauser, of Sleepy Eye, Minn., testified on the opening day of a trial over whether a court should order the boy into medical treatment against the family's wishes.

Hauser, whose son was diagnosed in January with Hodgkin's lymphoma, said conventional treatments such as chemotherapy conflict with the family's religious beliefs. She said they prefer natural remedies such as herbs and vitamins.

Asked where she learned about the alternative healing techniques, Hauser said, "on the Internet.''

Daniel sat stoically through the opening part of the trial as his first oncologist, Dr. Bruce Bostrom of Children's Hospitals and Clinics in Minneapolis, testified that his chances of survival would drop to 5 percent without treatment.

The boy left shortly afterward and never returned to the courtroom. He is scheduled to testify this morning in a closed session before the judge, after his lawyer said he was uncomfortable talking in open court. The case is expected to be finished today, and the judge said he didn't expect to issue a ruling this weekend.

As a day of tense testimony began, dozens of family friends and supporters lined the courtroom, but the mood was subdued. At one point, a handful of natural-health advocates arrived with signs to show their support for the Hausers. But they were ordered to leave their placards outside the courthouse.

The Hausers declined to speak to reporters after Friday's court session. But Dan Zwakman, a member of the Nemenhah religious group to which they belong, acted as the family spokesman. He argued that this is a case about religious freedom, noting that the group's motto is "our religion is our medicine."

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