How do you define medical neglect or abuse of a child?
Alayna and Rebecca Wyland
Clackamas County Sheriff's Office
Two very different medical cases, with a common thread, caught my eye this week.
Here in Arizona, a boy born Joseph Romero, age nine, was diagnosed with "gender identity disorder" at age 5. At age 6, Joseph became Josie. Josie wears skirts and necklaces and plays with dolls. "I haven't had my surgery yet," says Josie.
According to webmd.com, "Counseling usually is recommended to treat children with gender identity disorder. Counseling focuses on treating the associated problems of depression and anxiety and on improving self-esteem. Therapy also aims at helping the individual function as well as possible within his or her biological gender." Josie's comment about surgery makes one wonder if the counseling is working, assuming it's being done at all.
According to athealth.com, "Psychological therapy can alter the course of gender identity disorder. Early intervention can lead to less transsexual behavior later in life. The initial focus of the treatment is to help the individual function in his/her biologic sex role as well as possible." On the other hand, according to webmd.com, "gender reassignment surgery (sometimes referred to as a "sex change" operation)... is major and irreversible. Candidates for surgery must undergo an extensive evaluation and transition period."
We live in an imperfect world. We see people all the time who, due to imperfection, have been born with deformed arms faces, legs. It stands to reason that a similar number of people have been born with deformed genitalia. However, that is not the case here. The medical term "gender identity disorder" is specific: Doctors use the term "disorder of sex development" when something physical went wrong during prenatal development. "Joseph" was not misidentified as a boy at birth due to a deformity of the genitals. Rather, something in his upbringing, or possibly his brain chemistry, moved him to start thinking of himself as a girl.
As The World Book Encyclopedia stated: "People are born male or female, but they learn to be masculine or feminine."
Why would a parent encourage their son to behave as a girl, rather than teaching him masculinity? Why would they encourage him to entertain thoughts of having a sex change operation? Is it possible they wanted a girl? Is it possible they want some media attention? Is it possible they are so confused by all the weirdos screaming for their rights in this politically correct world that they are afraid of offending someone by implying there is something wrong with their child's thinking?
The other story that caught my eye was from Oregon.
The seven-month-old daughter of Timothy and Rebecca Wyland of Beavercreek was made a ward of the state after charges were brought against the Wylands of first degree criminal mistreatment of a child. Their daughter has developed a hemangioma that is interfering with the normal development of her left eye, but they have refused to take her for medical treatment due to their adherence to a faith-healing church and believing that God will fix the problem miraculously if they just pray hard enough.
According to another health site, about 50% of hemangiomas go away on their own by age 5, and 90% are gone by age 9. However, "Hemangiomas that...interfere with vision, hearing, or eating require prompt treatment. An infant with a hemangioma in the upper eyelid, even a small one, should be immediately evaluated by a pediatric ophthalmologist (eye doctor), as these can permanently affect the child's vision..." Treatment involves steroids, a laser, or surgery.
Is there any basis for the Wyland's belief in faith healing? In a word, no. It's true that there were miraculous cures when Jesus was walking the earth, and some of his disciples likewise were given the ability to perform miracles. But the Bible does not promise that anyone today would have that ability. Further, there were distinct differences between those cures and the supposed 'miracles' of faith healers today.
Luke 6:19: "Everyone was trying to touch him, because healing power went out from him, and he healed them all." Jesus healed hundreds, possibly thousands, of people. He didn't pick and choose individuals out of the crowd as faith healers do today. Yet, immediately after his death, only 120 people were described as "believers." (Acts 1:15) So belief was not a consideration in his healings. In fact, John chapter 9 tells of a blind man whom Jesus healed. Afterward, when asked whether he believed in Jesus the man replied, 'Who is he?' (John 9:36)
Money was never a factor in Jesus' healing. "These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: "...Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received free, freely give. Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts." The Wylands should be asking for a refund from the Oregon City Followers of Christ Church.
Incidently, Rebecca is the second Mrs Wyland. The first Mrs. Wyland died of breast cancer without ever seeking medical treatment.
Nowhere did Jesus promise that people living in our time could get cured simply by praying. In fact, he acknowledged that 'sick people need doctors,' (Matthew 9:12) and his disciple Luke was a doctor.
Religions like that practiced by the Wylands give Christians a bad name. Being a parent is an enormous responsibility, and it includes the responsibility of making medical decisions for children who are too young to decide their own medical care. But the decision to condemn all medical treatment, or as in Josie's case, to let a 9-year-old make a complex medical decision that will have life-long repercussions, would fit most people's definition of negligent.
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