Against Mom's Wishes, Chemo Ordered for Boy

In a case that pits a parent’s right to decide what is best for a child against the state’s interest in protecting children from harm and the medical profession’s judgment about what constitutes standard treatment, a state court judge has ordered a Florida mother to take her 10-year-old son in for chemotherapy.

The boy was successfully treated for testicular cancer, but the Pinellas-Pasco state attorney’s office filed a motion to seek court-ordered treatment after the mother refused to go through with follow-up chemotherapy to protect against a likely recurrence of the fast-growing form of malignancy, the St. Petersburg Times reports.

The boy’s mom, 26-year-old Natasha Esteras, says treatment isn’t necessary because he is now cancer-free. “Chemotherapy causes a lot of sickness to the body,” she says. “I don’t want him to have … to live with the complications for the rest of his life.”

A doctor involved in the boy’s care, however, says chemo is his only hope of long-term survival. “I think the fundamental question here is what is more important, a parent’s right to decide or a child’s right to live?” says Jerry Barbosa of All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg. “You tell me what’s more important.”

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