OTTAWA (AFP) – A judge on Friday rejected a bid by Canadian doctors to force an aboriginal girl into chemotherapy treatment in a groundbreaking ruling that affirms the right to pursue traditional healing over mainstream medicine.
The decision allows the parents of the 11-year-old girl to pursue a course of cancer treatment rooted in their centuries-old native traditions, but critics warn the unproven treatment risks the girl’s life.
Doctors at McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario sued to have her placed in protective custody in order to force her into care after the family removed her from their care.
Government child protection services had refused to intervene, citing indigenous peoples’ rights and concerns about splitting her from a loving family.
Doctors insisted that chemotherapy had a very high chance of curing her before she quit treatment in August.
“I cannot find that (the girl) is a child in need of protection when her (mother) has chosen to exercise her constitutionally-protected right to pursue their traditional medicine over the (doctors’) stated course of treatment of chemotherapy,” Ontario Court Justice Gethin Edward was quoted as saying by public broadcaster CBC.