Finally some good news in a legal case that up-to-now has been heart wrenching and frustrating. I’m of course referring to the case of JJ, the First Nations girl whose mother decided last Fall to replace her chemotherapy treatment (a treatment that gave her a 90-95% chance of recovery) with traditional medicine, mostly administered at the Florida Health spa Hippocrates Health Institute (HHI). JJ’s new regime to beat her leukemia included a positive attitude, a raw diet and health shakes, something Wayne K. Spear, himself an aboriginal, rightly called a mixture of Christianity, alternative medicines, New Age dabbling, and traditional herbs
McMaster Children’s Hospital, where JJ was receiving her chemotherapy treatments along side traditional medicine, asked the courts to compel the Brant Children’s Aid Society to intervene, however Judge Gethin Edward ruled in favour of JJ’s mom in pursuing traditional medicine over chemotherapy. Judge Edward stated:
I cannot find that J.J. is a child in need of protection when her substitute decision-maker has chosen to exercise her constitutionally protected right to pursue their traditional medicine over the Applicant’s stated course of treatment of chemotherapy.
I found this ruling outrageous because it clearly put a “constitutionally protected right” above the health of a child and this was not only ethically questionable but also inconsistent with Canada’s top court, which in 2009 dismissed a Jehovah Witness girl’s case claiming her rights were violated when she was forced to receive a life-saving blood transfusion. Indeed, the
Supreme Court ruled that such medical interventions are constitutionally sound, striking a balance between the choice of the child and the state’s protection of the child.
I was delighted to learn that JJ’s case has been amended to state that “the best interests of the child are ‘paramount’, but traditional medicine must be respected.”
The attorney general of Ontario, the counsel for the Six Nations, JJ’s family and McMaster Children’s Hospital, together submitted the clarification, which was read in a Brantford Ontario court. All parties worked together to make an important distinction that balances the weightier welfare of a child’s health against his/her right to traditional medicine. Hallelujah!
But wait, there’s more! JJ has resumed her chemotherapy as of March! I’m so happy about this! I really hope that she still has that 90-95% survival rate, despite her absence from treatment. I had hoped JJ’s mom would reconsider and I’m thrilled that she has! Good for her for making the best choice for her daughter.
As for HHI, JJ’s mom says she has no contact with them now. I hope Brian Clement stops traveling to Six Nations where he had twice given talks in the past but even if he continues to spread his misinformation about curing cancer, the tragedy of Makayla’s (a First Nation’s girl who died after stopping chemotherapy and attending HHI for treatment) situation, the cooperation between all parties and the strength of the law will protect future children.