Patient: "God Cured Me!" Judge: "You're having a hysterectomy anyway"



Okay, so an adult woman was diagnosed with Stage 1 cervical cancer and her doctor immediately reported that she may not be competent to make medical decisions, with the end result being a judge’s order that she has to have a hysterectomy even if she doesn’t want to.

Now, they aren’t giving that many details about why, exactly, the medical teams are suggesting that she isn’t competent to decide for herself. I’m assuming there are privacy issues here. But the stated information seems to suggest that it’s her belief that God cured her.

Personally, unless she’s actually in a vegetative state or unless her cervical cancer cooties are getting out and attacking passersby, I think she should have the right to refuse this or any treatment. I might personally think she’s a nut or maybe mentally deficient in some way, but she’s an adult (I’m assuming from the text of the article) and adults should be able to choose or not choose surgery unless it’s an emergency situation where we just have to assume consent because there’s no time to do otherwise.

Obviously, this judge disagrees with me, and I can emotionally understand the desire to save her despite herself. But it’s the wrong thing to do.

So, who wants to thumb wrestle over this?

I disagree. As you say, we don’t really have enough information to tell how mentally impared the woman in question is, but speaking generally I think there is a level of mental impairment where someone isn’t in a vegitative state but its still appropriate to force them to undergo lifesaving medical proceedures.

The severely mentally retarded, for example, are probably not equipped to understand the consequences of their choice. Ditto people with extreme psychosis.

If she currently has minor dependents, then I support the decision. However, if she has no other persons unable to legally fend for themselves dependent upon her, it’s her life.

ETA: perhaps she may be impaired by mental illness. I believe that in the interest of society, there is a duty of care implied in the social contract. Personally, I could care less if a person chooses to remove themselves from the gene pool should it harm no others vis a vis material support.

It is her religious belief that God can cure her.
It is her religious delusion that God has already done so.

I don’t see how the belief that God will cure you is any less delusional than the belief that he already has.

I agree that you don’t necessarily have to be in a vegitative state to be incompetent, but that siad I think the burden of proof ought to be pretty damn fucking high before the court is allowed in force someone to undergo a proceedure that if not done poses no risk to anyone but the person in question.

That might be your personal opinion, but lack of competency isn’t limited to being a vegetable. Do you think a 6 year old child should be allowed to make medical decisions for themselves? What if this adult is mentally impaired such that they have the reasoning skills of a 6 year old child?

It strikes me that there is such a lack of concrete information about the case that even thumb wrestling over this particular case is silly.

If a person is mentally ill, that illness is effecting their judgment, and is a danger to themselves or others, I have no problem with involuntary commitment, including ordering medical care to save that persons’ life.

If a person isn’t mentally ill and can make an informed decision on medical care, then that person should have the right to refuse medical treatment.

But speculating whether or not this woman is mentally ill or not, the extent of her mental illness and the risk it puts her at based solely on one article in the local media is, to me, a waste of time.

It may already be - her medical information is protected from release to the public, so they may already have met your high burden of proof. I don’t think courts go around ordering medical procedures willy-nilly.

You think a person with delusions about their medical condition should be able to make decisions about their medical treatment?

I assume you added the “she’s an adult” caveat because children are simply not competent to make decisions about their medical care. If an adult is also not competent to make that decision, why would you just abandon them to their fate?

Good news, Montana has suspended the order.

From that article:

If she really was ruled incompetant BECAUSE of her belief that God either has or will heal her, then I see no reason for the government to be involved in this. Let the doctor inform the woman of his/her findings, the options, and the potential outcomes, and let her make her own decisions.

From a different article:

which leads me to believe that she is old enough that there is a chance she is no longer fertile. So she’s been able to live this long, but suddenly the Judge knows best? Back off Judge Townsend.

As far as I know, that burden of proof IS pretty damn high. Her doctor couldn’t force the treatment; he had to appeal to a psych. The psych couldn’t force the treatment; he had to appeal to a judge.

I get that part - that’s why I said the burden of proof for the court had to be “pretty damn fucking high” even if it get’s before a judge. I have no idea if that burden was met here - it was intended as a general statement.

Not really but I sure don’t think a judge needs to be making that decision either.
Has she no familial structure that would be more ready to make that decision than the judge (or State)?

The kicker here being it poses no threat to anyone but herself.

Well, I can’t prove a negative - I can say it’s very unlikely god exists, let alone that he will cure you cancer, but I cannot definitively state it will not happen. However, I can use medical imaging, blood tests and so on to prove that, even if god may cure your cancer, he hasn’t yet done so. If you persist in believing you’ve been cured, this is a pretty high level of disbelief in reality.

We really don’t have enough information to judge. The belief that God has cured her, by itself, is not sufficient to prove that she is incapable of making informed decisions about her medical condition. But, hopefully, the court has additional reason to believe that she does not have the capacity to make a decision.

Because being a child is a temporary state and having someone make decisions for you then enables you to get far enough along to make decisions for yourself.

Once you are an adult, you should be able to make mistakes, yes even those that impact you hugely and could result in your death because you are the one who has to live with the decisions and you’re not going to grow out of whatever issue you have.

I would prevent a child from committing suicide. I think an adult has the right to commit suicide. I would prevent a child from eating only sweets. I think an adult has the right to eat only sweets. I would prevent a child from dying from a treatable disease. I think an adult has the right to die from a treatable disease.

Otherwise, I am saying that the adult has to live to satisfy my desire for her to live and with no assurance that she would ever be free of my control. She’s the one who has to do the actual living. And perfectly sane and competent people decide not to pursue cancer treatments all the time.

Her body, her choice. Yes, even if someone else thinks it’s not in her best interest.

You’re completely avoiding the very issue he asked you about … her competence. If she is mentally ill and incompetent to make decisions about her medical care, do you still think “her body, her choice”?

Even in cases of severe mental retardation or crippling psychosis?

So your only metric for competency is the number of years someone has been on this rock?

Treatable mental illnesses can be considered temporary, yet you think no one should intervene to prevent those who are mentally ill from killing themselves?