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God vs. Medicine

I'm not a believer, but have been surrounded by religion my entire life. As a young child, I was christened Catholic and routinely attended mass. The whole ritual intrigued me. Listen to the man in the robe sing, stand in line, put a wafer in my mouth during communion, and then kneel on a hard bench and pray to some mysterious figure called "God." I never felt any connection to the process, or any solace from prayer. At age 10, my parents sent me to a conservative Baptist school and I remained there until graduation. I don't have much to say about the experience except that it completely turned me away from religion. To this day, many of my friends are deeply religious and I respect their faith. But what happens when religious beliefs become so extreme that they endanger the life of a child? This saga currently is playing out in America.


The child at the center of the controversy resides in an Amish community in Ohio. I've previously written about the Amish, and this sect holds a special place in my heart. You can read my views on them here, in a post that was written before most of you subscribed to my blog. Many Amish completely refuse medical treatment based on religious grounds, but in this case the young girl received chemotherapy for a short period of time to treat an aggressive form of leukemia. After seeing the side effects, the parents refused further treatment and the hospital petitioned the Courts to intervene. In their view, they are morally and legally obligated to ensure the child receives proper medical care. Without it, she faces almost no chance of survival. Yet parents have a fundamental right to raise kids as they see fit. Courts in America rarely intervene with parenting decisions unless there is clear evidence the parents are unfit to make decisions. This usually arises when parents are drug addicts, alcoholics or mentally impaired. The judge in this case issued a temporary order a few weeks ago authorizing the hospital to continue treatment until the matter is officially resolved in the Courts.

There have been instances where children have died as a result of fundamentalist Christian parents who refused any forms of medicine or treatment, instead trusting the outcome to God and faith. In most cases, the parents are criminally charged with murder or involuntary manslaughter after the child's death. You can read about one example in this article
. Of course the issue also arises with terminally ill adults who wish to die gracefully rather than suffer a painful and slow death. I'm sure everyone has heard of Jack Kevorkian, "Dr. Death," who assisted hundreds of patients with medically induced suicides. His famous quote is "dying is not a crime." It was later determined that some of his patients were not terminally ill or even suffering from extreme pain. He was convicted of murder and served only eight years. However, as a result of his actions, American Courts were forced to take up the issue of voluntary death. Physician assisted suicide is now legal in four States (Vermont, Washington, Oregon and Montana). The legal principles in each State differ. For example, in Montana the physician may only assist with the suicide if a Court issues an order after evaluating all facts in the case. Other States require a waiting period of 10 - 18 days to ensure the patient is not making a harsh or sporadic decision.

I've watched two relatives die very slow and painful deaths - one from cancer and one from liver disease. Both bound to their homes and beds in later stages of the illness, with hospice nurses visiting them two to three times a day to try to make the pain bearable. All light in their eyes completely gone with the realization that death was knocking on their door. Immense sadness when they passed, but also relief and comfort to know they were no longer suffering.

Insomnia has recently hit hard and I lay awake at night thinking about this. Should children be forced to die because they have extremist parents? At what point should the government and/or Courts intervene? Should all States permit physician assisted suicide?
In these situations, we walk a very delicate line between morality, ethics and religion. Between science and faith.


And to all my Jewish readers, Happy New Year! :)


( 68 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 5th, 2013 03:39 am (UTC)
I think that parents make the killing of their own children on the basis of religious considerations. It is a crime and they should be judged.
Honestly, it's better not to believe in God than to blindly obey the religious requirements.
Sep. 5th, 2013 01:15 pm (UTC)
I agree! The tricky part is where do you draw the line? What if the kid suffers from horrible migraines and the parents refuse medicine? The child is in immense pain, but his life is not at risk. Is it also punishable? Hmm...:)
(no subject) - rider3099 - Sep. 5th, 2013 04:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 5th, 2013 04:56 am (UTC)
Русский язык заразен
You hang out with Russians too much: "routinely attended mAss" 8)

Edited at 2013-09-05 05:10 am (UTC)
Sep. 5th, 2013 05:58 am (UTC)
And to all my Jewish readers, Happy New Year! :) (c)\
Toda Raba! :-)
Sep. 5th, 2013 01:17 pm (UTC)
How does your family celebrate? My ex-boyfriend's family had a wonderful feast! His dad would sing songs in Hebrew and I loved it! Festive day.
(no subject) - qi_tronic - Sep. 5th, 2013 01:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 5th, 2013 01:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - qi_tronic - Sep. 5th, 2013 02:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - amandakysses - Sep. 5th, 2013 03:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - amandakysses - Sep. 5th, 2013 03:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - amandakysses - Sep. 5th, 2013 03:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - amandakysses - Sep. 5th, 2013 03:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - amandakysses - Sep. 5th, 2013 05:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 5th, 2013 06:08 am (UTC)
I respect faith of somebody if faith is not interfere for others . Unfortunately in Israel they affect on my life .
Sep. 5th, 2013 01:17 pm (UTC)
How do they affect your life?
Sep. 5th, 2013 06:22 am (UTC)
Get on your knees!
The parable about the friendship between a man and a woman.
In ancient times, a priest served in the temple, educating and mentoring people. He taught them the good, understanding, don't eat beans and don't have sex with animals. But few of the parishioners have followed holy commandments strictly. Often, during the service, the strong scent pointed to the fact that the congregation breaks the commandment which relate to the beans.
Priest was desperate. He turned to God: "Lord, I am tired of these people! They lie, betray, commit adultery, and have no love for each other ... I have served you faithfully... Please!.. Make it so that I was surrounded by a sincere, dedicated people who are ready share everything with each other, who love each other as brothers!". God granted his wish.
The next moment, the priest was in the trench. He was wearing a dirty uniform and his hand was clutching a rifle equipped with a bayonet, that was rusty from the blood. Nearby, shoulder to shoulder, his comrades were sitting. Everyone was ready to give his life for another. There was no deceit and heartburning between them . They have not eaten for two days and did not sleep much. They were closer to God than anyone else. A shelling began and everyone was praying.
How does this relate to the M-F friendship? The M-F friendship begins only when life is crumbling. It is a consequence of the unsettled personal life.

Edited at 2013-09-05 06:46 am (UTC)
Sep. 5th, 2013 01:21 pm (UTC)
Re: Get on your knees!
You - such a philosopher! :) No, the male/female friendship doesn't begin only when life is crumbling, or as a consequence of an unsettled personal life. Plenty of married people have same sex friends also. Btw, are you married?
Re: Get on your knees! - amandakysses - Sep. 5th, 2013 02:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Get on your knees! - andrey_kaminsky - Sep. 6th, 2013 06:41 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Get on your knees! - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 6th, 2013 12:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Get on your knees! - andrey_kaminsky - Sep. 6th, 2013 05:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 5th, 2013 07:23 am (UTC)
Woman, Insomnia? Join the club. We can sleep when we're dead right?

Happy New Year!

“From the beginning men used God to justify the unjustifiable.”― Salman Rushdie
“Extremes to the right and to the left of any political dispute are always wrong.”― Dwight D. Eisenhower

I dont know about around the world, but I think extremism is the problem in our country with most things. I respect everyone's right to choose their own faith, political view, etc but the problem comes when they blindly follow those views instead of using common sense, instead of their own intuition and abilities.
I am mostly concerned with the rights of children, I have no problem with the government/law intervening to protect innocent children from their parents ignorance.
I dont believe in organized religion. But I like a lot of things about all kinds of religions. I take little things I like from everywhere. I believe in love, kindness, acceptance, open hearts, open minds.

This one is kind of gloomy and serious. I think the next blog should be light hearted and fun! But that's just me! Loves! xoxo
Sep. 5th, 2013 10:27 am (UTC)
I dont know about around the world, but I think extremism is the problem in our country with most things.(c)
In my country to, both sides !
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 5th, 2013 01:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - amandakysses - Sep. 5th, 2013 02:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - amandakysses - Sep. 5th, 2013 05:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 5th, 2013 05:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 5th, 2013 09:43 am (UTC)
For a true Christian, the very idea of coercing or forcing anyone, not just a dependent lesser being that is your own child, into your faith, should be an abominable one. Lord our Creator gives us both our lives and our faith, so what Christian parents must do is to give their children the best chances to hear their Creator speak to them. Simply forcing into rituals is often, if not ever, the worst way to achieve.
Sep. 5th, 2013 01:34 pm (UTC)
I was never forced into religion. I went to mass w/my grandmother, mostly because I wanted to spend time with her. She was a devout Catholic, attending mass every single day. In my teenage years, I stopped going. My parents aren't overly religious. They sent me to a private school because they thought I would get a better education there. However, to me, this is the worst environment for a child to grow up in. I was surrounded by all white, middle-class people who pretty much thought the same. I was the radical, questioning everything teachers said because our whole curriculum was Christian-centric. We could not even have dances at my school because principals feared it would lead to deviant sexual behavior. Boy touches girl during the dance, well then they must immediately fuck. A very strange thought process!

I came out normal because my parents are open-minded people and I've always surrounded myself with diverse people and mindsets. Forcing anything on someone is the recipe for rebellion and nonacceptance. I completely agree with you on this point.
Sep. 5th, 2013 12:32 pm (UTC)
Insomnia, and other bad things
Hey, Shannon, I quite sure, that religious fanatics are the one of the worst problem in nowadays world. And no matter Christians or Muslims or else. We don`t have Amish in this country. (Well, I recall old movie, Harrison Ford and Александр Годунов star, “Witness”, the action were in Amish land, I goon watch it again.)
But we have Adventists of the 7 day, the same shit with kids health care, and only way to safe the baby is the court.
One of my favorite novels is Мастер и Маргарита by Михаил Булгаков. Here’s a little part.
Well , of course, is not the sum - Woland said condescendingly to his guest - though , indeed, it is , in fact, you do not need . When you die?
Here it is the bartender was indignant .
- That nobody knows and nobody else's , - he said.
- Well, is not known - was heard all the same crappy voice out of the office - think of it , the binomial theorem ! He died nine months later , in February of next year from liver cancer in the clinic of the First Moscow State University, in the fourth ward.
The bartender was a yellow face .
- Nine months - thoughtfully considered Voland - two hundred forty-nine thousand ... It goes round was twenty seven thousand a month ? Not much , but enough for a modest life . Yes golden dozens .
- Dozens can not be implemented - got into the same voice , chills the heart of the bartender - at the death of Andrew Fokichev home immediately break and scores will be sent to the State Bank .
- Yes , and I would not advise you to go to the hospital - continued artist - what's the point to die in the House under the moaning and wheezing hopeless patients . Is not it better to arrange a feast for the twenty- seven thousand and by taking poison , move to another world to the sound of the strings, surrounded by drunken beauties and dashing friends?

Insomnia? Poor you. My best remedy booze and good sex, that`s all.
Sep. 5th, 2013 01:39 pm (UTC)
Re: Insomnia, and other bad things
"Witness" is the most famous Amish movie. And the main actress, Kelly McGillis, is quite beautiful. :) There's an excellent documentary called "Amish: American Experience." Maybe you can find it online? I highly recommend watching it if you're curious about this lifestyle.

"Booze and good sex," this is everyone's cure for insomnia! I don't have a boyfriend, and don't wish to become an alcoholic. So I sit and suffer. Toss and turn all night, mind in constant overdrive.
Re: Insomnia, and other bad things - qi_tronic - Sep. 5th, 2013 02:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Insomnia, and other bad things - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 5th, 2013 03:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Insomnia, and other bad things - qi_tronic - Sep. 5th, 2013 03:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Insomnia, and other bad things - amandakysses - Sep. 5th, 2013 03:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 5th, 2013 01:08 pm (UTC)
The problem is not in health treatment.

My Chinese qigong teacher has his own clinic and a research insitute in Beijing where he practices "Image therapy" which is close to spiritual healing.
And he has been able to treat successfully some patients whom traditional medicine could not help.
Details are here:
kundawell. cn/english/index.htm

But he NEVER advices patients to refuse traditional medical treatment.
This all can be successfully combined.
That's a practical Chinese approach to life.

The problem in with this girl's case is broader and it is in the blind faith itself.
Blind faith is wrong and even criminal, I think.
Christian fundamentalism, Islamic fundamentalism, Communist fundamentalism, LIberal fundamentalism ... all are wrong because people stop thinking themselves and stop interacting with reality surrounding them.

Practice is the only criterion to check what works and what does not.

That's my opinion :)
Sep. 5th, 2013 01:40 pm (UTC)
For once, we completely agree! :))
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 5th, 2013 01:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - qi_tronic - Sep. 5th, 2013 02:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 5th, 2013 09:19 pm (UTC)
Wrong focus leads to unnecessary distractions from the important issues in your life. God, religion, atheism can wait. Football season is about to kick off. Sorry don’t care about the ‘skins, and actually care only somewhat about the Cowgirls especially their megalomaniac owner Jerry Jones and their monster stadium with 80 yard screens overhead. In Freudian terms he probably has tiny dick. Not my problem.
In my youth mid-90’s the Cowgirlz used to have summercamp here in Austin in a small St. Edward’s U. They were accessible, people were coming to watch them practice in 105F degree August heat, they’d sign autographs… fun. Now their summercamp is in a godforsaken shithole somewhere in CA…
Why anyone even bothers to care about a bunch of douche bag losers driven by psycho owner..? And that used to be America’s team… What a Texan to do? Start liking Giants? Skins? Ravens? 49er’s? Texans? Uhh.

Hook’ em Horns!

Jews of all creeds, Happy Channukkah!
Sep. 5th, 2013 10:58 pm (UTC)
Oh yeah! So excited - today a glorious day! You should become a Skins' fan. :) Cowboys are led by the biggest pussy in the whole game. What quarterback has choked more than Romo? Btw, do you play fantasy football? My first time this year and Flacco is my QB. :)
(no subject) - amandakysses - Sep. 5th, 2013 11:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 6th, 2013 12:59 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jack_cracker29 - Sep. 6th, 2013 01:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 6th, 2013 02:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - amandakysses - Sep. 7th, 2013 01:00 am (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 6th, 2013 04:41 am (UTC)
I think, the death lethal injection is a right thing if it concerns physical suffering. But what about mental pain? If a man feels an unbearable psychic pain does he or she have the right for the suicide?
Sep. 6th, 2013 12:18 pm (UTC)
Such a difficult question! I believe physical pain is easier to diagnose, yet mental pain equates to an ever greater form of suffering if it's severe. I don't know the answer. Hard choices to make in life. I hope you and your family have a nice weekend!
(no subject) - mybathroom - Sep. 6th, 2013 04:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mybathroom - Sep. 6th, 2013 04:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 6th, 2013 07:41 pm (UTC)
I think parents know better.
I think there is probably no such thing as a God punishment in afterlife for disobeying Amish principles. But what if we are wrong in this?
I think parents should have more rights at rising kids, but also I think that waiting until 18 yo for emancipation is ridiculous. If this kid is grown and smart enough to leave her parents, she should be allowed to.
I think making drugs illegal made more suffering in the wWorld including terminal patients suffering.
Sep. 6th, 2013 09:34 pm (UTC)
Wide-spread efforts to legalize marijuana in America, and I believe it will soon be legal in all States. However, hard drugs have no chance of becoming legalized here in my lifetime.
(no subject) - ypolozov - Sep. 17th, 2013 02:10 am (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 7th, 2013 08:32 am (UTC)
Well, you know I am an atheist, and religious reasons make little sense to me. I strongly believe in a person's free will to control his or her life, and only that. But there are no rights to control the life of someone else, be it your kid or a dependent person.

As such, as long as you speak rationally - talking about doubts in quality of medical service, in knowledge of the medics, in effifiency of prescribed medicines - that is rational, can be proved or disproved by facts and rational reasons, and is a valid point to be considered.

As long as you speak about yourself - there should be a right for an adult person to refuse medical service for himself or herself for any reasons and make a rational decision to die. If we don't want it we can try to persuade the person not to do this.

But a person does not have authority to control the life of his dependants and to decide to let them die, and furthermore, he may not have authority to refuse medical service for them for religious reasons, as they are irrational and there are no reasonable arguments against them.

I see the refusal of medical services as a dangerous prejudice that may not be tolerated, and think that rejection of religious arguments must be enforced by the society and authorities when you talk about health and risk of life.
Sep. 7th, 2013 02:59 pm (UTC)
America has generally taken the same approach as you outline when it comes to protecting the life of a child in the face of extremist parents refusing medicine. Religious beliefs are based in irrationality, as there is nothing tangible or concrete at the foundation. Pure leap of faith in the abstract and unknown, although some "feel" God's presence. For them I'm happy but it has never been me, and obviously not you given that you're an atheist.

I hope you stay dry this weekend! I see a lot of rain in Moscow recently.
(no subject) - moonrainbow - Sep. 7th, 2013 08:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 4th, 2013 03:29 pm (UTC)
children are not responsible for their parents. or for their choices. the life of a child is the most important moment in every situations.
Oct. 4th, 2013 04:22 pm (UTC)
I agree with you! Parents who sacrifice the health or even life of their child for religious reasons are psychologically sick in my view.
Oct. 8th, 2013 11:46 am (UTC)
I think every person has a right to live and a right to die. The right to live means to me to get a proper medical treatment not depending on any religious or other beliefs. Of course, adult persons can choose for themselves was treatment to use and what not, but as for children I think parents can't stop a medicine because of their beliefs... And as for the right to die I think every person has a right to a decent death in every time of his/her life. And if a person wants some medication to have a peaceful and decent death this must be provided to him/her. Yes, I am an adherent of euthanasia!
Btw how did the story of sick Amish girl end? I hope her treatment was continued after a court's decision, wasn't it?
Oct. 8th, 2013 01:44 pm (UTC)
Amish girl is stuck in the court system, but receiving treatments until the case is resolved. The court ordered that the treatments be continued until the case is fully ajudicated. I also support euthanasia. If you've ever watched a loved one die a horrible, slow and painful death it changes your mind. People should be able to die with dignity.
(no subject) - anna_sollanna - Oct. 8th, 2013 02:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
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