STATE KNOWS BEST?? SECOND MEDICAL OPINION LAW, DOES IT STRIP PARENTS OF RIGHTS??

Friday, July 5, 2019 - 7:30am
Dakota Tuck

It was a year ago this June when Ben McClintock got news that any parent dreads to hear. His precious five-year-old Niveah had been diagnosed with leukemia. What seemed to be a simple illness that the doctor thought would run its course was not improving and a family friend who was a nurse advised the parents that she needed to be seen right away.

The McClintocks took their daughter to Instacare, where she was life-flighted to Primary Children’s Hospital. She spent two weeks in a medically induced coma to fight off two blood infections. The oncologist advised a course of chemotherapy that was supposed to be just steroids. Ben was reassured it was mild and she wouldn’t even lose her hair. Two weeks later, their sweet daughter’s hair was falling out. Feeling as though the doctor had not been forthright with his information, the McClintocks did what most parents would.

Ben said the nurses were great with Niveah, but they wanted to explore every option, so they sought a second opinion. This is where the real nightmare began. In Utah, it is against the law to seek a second opinion with a doctor that is not in the same field as the original diagnosis. Also, the treatment has to be what is considered “traditional” treatment prescribed for the illness. In a whirlwind nightmare, Child Protective Services (CPS) was called; and the McClintocks were under investigation for alleged medical neglect, simply for wanting to explore alternative treatments. The most important thing for the McClintocks was to be there for Niveah and not to have her undergo any additional stress. So, they complied and allowed her to be treated at Primary Children’s Hospital with traditional chemotherapy and did everything the doctors advised.

However, CPS continued to harass the parents and when they would not let them interview their very ill daughter without a trusted adult present, the agent alleged that he had witnessed Niveah being starved (despite having never interviewed her). The McClintocks hired an attorney who contacted the DCFS director to determine why their home was being searched and why they wanted to interview five-year-old Niveah without a parent.  The only answer given was “probable cause.”  The charges were dropped against the McClintocks for lack of evidence.

 Despite being cleared of any wrong, the McClintocks feel their hands are tied on treating their daughter and are complying with two years of chemotherapy despite Niveah being in complete remission. The new battle for Ben and his family is to change the law, make it so parents have the right to choose the treatment they feel is best for their family. Utah code 78A-6-S301-5 essentially takes away the parental rights when deciding on treatment for an ill child.  It essentially forbids parents from obtaining second opinions and gives all the rights to courts and to the medical facility.

 The McClintocks tale is sadly not unique. We all remember the Parker Jensen case and the false diagnosis of cancer and his parents fight to not give chemotherapy. There are numerous stories out there of the State taking rights that belong to the parents, when abuse is NOT suspected. It is easy to say: “surely they have the best interest of the children in mind.” However, who loves their children more than the parents? If it was your child who do you want making medical decisions? The state? They can’t even manage to fill potholes in a timely manner, do you really want a bureaucrat in charge of your most precious treasure, your child?

If you want to find out more about changing the proposed law, please go to www.defendingutah.org to educate yourself and then decide for yourself. On this page you can find a link to donate to help with the mounting medical and attorney fees. You can even make a difference by doing something as simple as calling Primary Children’s and urging them to only call CPS in cases where abuse is suspected, and not because the parent is seeking alternative treatments. Help restore parental rights in the state of Utah. Next time it might be your family. Both DCFS and Primary Children’s have been contacted for statements concerning this law and I have yet to receive a call back at the time of publishing. ****Please check back as we will be sharing more of these stories in the weeks to come.

Photo by Stephen Stacey from FreeImages

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