Police across the United States were on the look-out today for a mother and son who had fled their home in southern Minnesota to elude court-ordered chemotherapy for the boy, who has been diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma.
An arrest warrant for Colleen Hauser was issued late Tuesday after she failed to appear for a court hearing on the condition of her 13-year-old son Daniel. Her husband told the judge that she had disappeared from their home with Daniel the previous evening and that he did not know where they were.
On Monday, Mrs Hauser had taken her son to their family doctor who said that a court-ordered X-ray had shown that his tumour was growing and needed urgent treatment. While Hodgkin's lymphoma is a serious condition, it is often effectively tackled with aggressive chemotherapy.
The Hauser family, of Sleepy Eye, Minnesota, has been declining the treatment for the young man for religious reasons. They subscribe to the teachings of the Nemenhah Band, a religious group that believes in natural alternatives to modern medicine.
"I know many people around here who have had cancer, they did chemo, it would come back," Anthony Hauser, the boy's father, told the Star Tribune newspaper of Minneapolis. "They did the chemo again and again and they are all in the grave. Chemo isn't foolproof."
He acknowledged that he was disappointed by his wife's actions saying that they had agreed to appear in court together on Tuesday. "She said she was going to leave," he told the court after showing up on his own. "She said, ''that's all you need to know.' And that's all I know."
In testimony unsealed this week, the young boy, who has learning disabilities, said if anyone tried to make him undergo chemotherapy, "I'd fight it. I'd punch them and I'd kick them".
The failure of the mother and son to show up on Tuesday surprised local officials. "It's absolutely crazy. It's very disappointing," commented James Olson, a lawyer for the local family services agency. "We're trying to do what's right for this young man."
In Missouri, the founder of the Nemenhah group, Philip Cloudpiler Landis, was critical of Mrs Hauser's actions. "She should have gone to court," he told the Associated Press yesterday. "It's how we work these things out. You don't solve anything by disregarding the order of the judge."Reuse content