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Parental Rights in Children's Medical Care

What Parents Should Know, and What Uncle Sam Must Stop

Take these polls:

Who Should Make the Final Decision in Children's Medical Care?
Should Parents Have the Right to Disagree with Doctors' Recommended Treatments for Their Children?

What is a more frightening nightmare for parents than their children's illness?

It is the fear of losing custody of their children.

In the United States, parents risk losing custody of their children forever when they disagree with doctors' recommended treatments or even when they want a second opinion.

That is what happened to the Werneckes in Texas in 2005, Corissa Mueller in 2002, Pam Anderson in 2000, Tina Phifer in 1997, and a slew of other parents and children who have been victimized in the past decades.

Sign the Parental Rights in Children's Medical Care: Give Parents the Right to Say No Petition!

A recent case involves 13-year-old Daniel Hauser who fled with his mother Colleen to avoid chemotherapy for his Hodgkin's disease. Daniel clearly stated that he does not want to receive the treatment but instead wishes to seek alternative treatment. His mother supports his decision as she does not want to force her son to do something he does not want for his own body. Instead of empathizing with their situation, arrests warrants have been issued for Colleen. Once captured, Daniel is also to be sent to a foster home to be cared for by total strangers.

children belong to parents by the law of nature. When parents have God-given parental rights of their children, they should have the right to exercise their rights, including speaking and deciding on behalf of their children.

Uncle Sam is forcing parenthood on children he never even knew existed before.

When parents want help, they will ask for it, but they will never ask for this kind of "help" where you "help" only by taking away their children. Parents need extra support during hard times while coping with their children's illnesses and finding the right treatment, not being accused of child abuse or medical neglect. What kind of example does the government give to its citizens when they force "help" on others? Would they welcome this kind of help for themselves?

A similar case (July 2006) involved a 16-year-old, Abraham Cherrix, who wanted to have the right to choose alternative treatment for his Hodgkin's disease after the chemotherapy made him extremely ill. (Read my blog posts.) Because they support his decision, his parents were charged with medical neglect.

Firsthand Experiences

My mother Juliet Cheng was one parent whose child was forcefully and wrongly taken away by Child Protective Services over treatment disputes--not only once, but twice.

The first incident occurred when I was twenty-two months old. The hospital had given me aspirin on an empty stomach. The medicine caused severe side effects, including diarrhea and a fever of 104 degrees, not to mention drowsiness and a severe lack of energy. My mother told the hospital to stop administering the medicine, but they responded by sending her to court and immediately took her custody of me away.

The second custody case occurred when I was seven years old, after my mother had wisely chosen not to follow a doctor's plan. The doctor wanted to operate on six of my joints (my ankles, knees, and hips) in one operation when he did not have any medication to control my inflammation. My health deteriorated because of his administering Naprosyn to me on an empty stomach. The custody case lasted five months, until my mother finally won me back. By then, I was all skin and bones and vomiting large amounts of blood.

The doctor claimed that the surgery was in my best interest. But the surgery was not emergent. It was not a life-threatening situation where I had to have the surgery in order to live. The surgery could be done at a later time when I would be able to withstand both the surgery itself and the recovery that would follow. It was not just the surgery that I had to endure; I had to go through extensive rehabilitation and therapy afterward. So receiving the surgery at that time was actually the worst option for me, not the best, as the doctor had claimed.

Fortunately, she won me back both times, so I did not receive the unnecessary, harmful treatments that would send me to my grave.

The second custody case, in 1990, made international headlines. My mother and her lawyer, George Athanson--who had served as mayor of Hartford, Connecticut, for eleven years--appeared on the CBS This Morning show with Paula Zahn, and the news was reported on CNN, in the New York Times, Newsweek, the Washington Post, among many other major media outlets. She gained worldwide support, including from celebrities such as Katharine Hepburn and Taiwan's then-first lady.

My mother almost lost custody of me for the third time when I was fourteen.

I was in the emergency room for pneumonia and asthma. They had no relief for me, so we wanted to return home, but the doctor would not allow me to be discharged.

He immediately called CPS.

Fortunately, the social worker from the hospital told my mother that she was free to bring me home, so we promptly left, and I got the much-needed rest. The CPS agent did not fail to show up at our condo that day, but left when she saw that I was doing fine. I felt much better after I had slept. Some days later, the CPS worker checked on me again. This proves that my mother's decision was right all along.

Crime Against Humanity

When I was seven, I did not have a voice. Now, nineteen years later, I am here to speak for every parent and child because everyone is a potential victim of this injustice when a child falls ill--including your own child or grandchild.

I am here to help today's loving parents protect and keep custody of their children.

It is a crime when doctors force unwanted or harmful treatments on children, and it is a violation against humanity when the state tears loving parents and children apart.

The American government needs to deal with each case according to its unique needs, instead of acting upon the same plan for every case. Just because loving parents who only want the best for their child disagree with a medically recommended treatment does not mean that they are child abusers and their child should be torn away from them. In this democratic land of independence, the medical laws are extremely out of place.

America will be better if it gives freedom to devoted, competent parents. The average parent wants the best for their child. We, the patients in our own bodies and the caregivers who have cared for the patients for years, know what is best for us.

Doctors may know what is the best treatment option for us, but even in all their certainty, they cannot force their knowledge and power on us.

So, what is the question here regarding the parental-rights issue? Is it who loves the children the most, or is it who knows what's best for the children? I believe that question can only be answered by God. God created us, so He must know what is best for each and every one of us, but He gives us free will and the right to care for ourselves on our own. He lets every one of us decide for ourselves and choose what to do with our lives, even if it means that we make many mistakes. He does not control us; He simply tells us how to be a good person and informs us of the consequences if we choose to be bad people.

But instead of allowing us the same free will that God gives us, our own people take away our rights, snatching children away from parents--their primary source of love and care--in order to do what is "best" for the children. Worse yet, they do not warn us of the consequences if parents dare disagree with them; they simply call the Child Protective Services on parents as soon as the parents say no.

Can't we decide what is best for ourselves?

Where is our freedom to say no?

Say No to Doctors and Lose Your Child

Parents, do you want you and your children to fall victims to this power abuse?

This shouldn't even be a case. But it is a case because the government ignores common sense, ignores compassion, and ignores humanity.

What Happened on Friday, July 13, 1990

On the morning of Friday the 13th, a woman took her child to see the child's physician for one last consultation as requested by the doctor. When they arrived, the office was silent with stiff-looking people standing about like statues.

The unsmiling doctor walked up to the woman and asked, "Do you agree to have your daughter operated?"

The woman answered, "No, you don't have any medication to control her inflammation. You need to fix it from the inside first."

The crowd moved in and immediately took away the child.

The woman had just lost custody of her child.

That child was I seventeen years ago. My mother had battled this injustice for five months and won. This custody case made headlines worldwide.

Let us put an end to this injustice.

cover of Parental Rights in Children's Medical Care - Where Is Our Freedom to Say No? A Look at the Injustice of the American Medical System by Shirley Cheng, Blind and Physically Disabled Award-Winning Author

Parental Rights in Children's Medical Care - Where Is Our FREEDOM to Say No?

A Look at the Injustice of the American Medical System

When doctors ask yes or no, can parents say no?

Being a victim and survivor of this injustice, Shirley Cheng advocates parental rights in children's medical care to help today's loving parents protect and keep custody of the children of our future. Her mother Juliet Cheng had battled and won two custody cases after disagreeing with doctors' recommended treatments--treatments that would have ended her young life. The 1990 case made international headlines and gained support from celebrities such as Katharine Hepburn and Taiwan's former first lady Soong May-ling.

With this book, Shirley hopes to bring awareness to the public of this issue and inform parents of the legal consequences if they disagree with doctors' recommendations, and above all, to put an end to this crime against humanity.

This advocacy book poses these important questions, among others:

• Do Doctors Really Know best?
• Why do doctors ask yes or no when parents must say yes?
• Why are parents guilty until proven innocent?
• State vs. parents-who loves children the most?
• Does the state prosecute parents justly?
• Who is responsible for children's accidents?
• Knowledge vs. love-which ingredient is most important in children's care?

"A noble writer and fighter for freedom… Readers will not be the same after reading Cheng's passionate words." -Christina Francine, Midwest Book Reviews

ISBN: 978-0-6151-4994-3; trade paperback, 160 pages


About the Author

Shirley Cheng (b. 1983), a blind and physically disabled award-winning author (with twenty book awards, including Mom's Choice Awards and nine Parent to Parent Adding Wisdom Awards), motivational speaker, self-empowerment expert, poet, author of nine books, contributor to seventeen, and a parental rights advocate, has had severe juvenile rheumatoid arthritis since infancy. Owing to years of hospitalization, she received no education until age eleven. However, after only about 180 days of special education in elementary school, she mastered grade level in all areas and entered a regular sixth grade class in middle school. Unfortunately, Shirley lost her eyesight at the age of seventeen. After a successful eye surgery, she hopes to earn multiple science doctorates from Harvard University.

Interviews with Shirley

Shirley Cheng is available for interviews. Please e-mail her.

Parents, What Should You Do When It Happens to You?

• First, do not panic! Remain calm and faithful. Remember, when justice is in your hands, you should win and not be afraid
• Get the media's attention. Call the local newspapers (where the case is taking place) and explain your problem and ask that you be interviewed and to have the article posted in its paper. Start local, then call up the major media. Usually, when the local paper comes out with your news, it will spread to other media outlets
• Find a lawyer who is well-known (with a big name).
• Contact any advocate groups, the Civil Liberty Union, senators, etc.

Media Coverage of the Five-Month Internationally Broadcast Custody Case in 1990

This is an incomplete list of media broadcast on the custody case Juliet Cheng had to battle with a doctor to save Shirley's young life. Juliet, and her lawyer, George Athanson--the former mayor of Hartford, CT, for eleven years--appeared on CBS This Morning with Paula Zahn. The case was broadcast in China, Canada, and other parts of the world.

Hartford Courant: State Offers Bitter Medicine; July 28, 1990
Hartford Courant: Science and Tradition at Center of Dispute Over Girl's Treatment; August 5, 1990
Hartford Courant: State Urged to Release Sick Child, Allow Treatment in China; August 15, 1990
Newsweek: Does Doctor Know Best? Overriding the Family; September 24, 1990
New York Times: Can Choosing Form of Care Become Neglect?; September 29, 1990
Daily News of Los Angeles: Court Battle Looms for Mother Seeking Treatment in China; September 29, 1990
New York Times: Mother Gets 2 Months To Treat Daughter, 7; October 11, 1990
Hartford Courant: Mother Tells Her Side of Fight Over Girl's Care; October 14, 1990
The Associated Press: 'I have the Rights, Not Them'; November 25, 1990
The Charlotte Observer: Child at Center of Conflict: Mother Must Show Old Methods Help; November 25, 1990
St. Petersburg Times: Mom Fights for Right to Use Chinese Medicine; November 25, 1990
Daily News of Los Angeles: Mother's Faith Tests Tradition; November 25, 1990
Tulsa World: Mother Fighting for Chinese Treatment; November 25, 1990
Wisconsin State Journal: Traditions Last Chance: Court Gives Deadline for Sick Girl's Cure; November 25, 1990
Press of Atlantic City: Medical Battle Puts Girl's Life on the Line: Mother: Ancient Methods Can Cure Her 7-Year-Old; November 25, 1990
Houston Chronicle: Medical Culture Clash: Chinese Remedies to Cure Rheumatoid Arthritis under Fire; NOVEMBER 25, 1990
The Roanoke Times: Mother Battles for Right to Pick Arthritis Remedies; November 25, 1990
Press-Telegram: Mom Fights State-Ordered Surgery; November 25, 1990
The Deseret News: Mom Devoted to Wisdom of China Medical Remedies Faces Judicial Intervention; November 26, 1990
Hartford Courant: Homeopathy; November 29, 1990
The Associated Press: East Vs. West; November 30, 1990
St. Paul Pioneer Press: Mom Loses Custody When She Refuses Surgery for Child; December 9, 1990
New Haven Register: Mother Wins Decision to Keep Child from Surgery; December 12, 1990
New York Times: Mother Apparently Wins Bid to Block Surgery; December 13, 1990
The Washington Times: Mother Gains in Child-Care Tiff; December 14, 1990
Boston Globe: Mother Wins Custody of Girl; December 15, 1990
Tulsa World: Family Reunited; December 15, 1990
New Haven Register: Girl to Resume Chinese Treatments; December 15, 1990
Houston Chronicle: Custody Regained as Treatment OK'd; DECEMBER 16, 1990
Boston Globe: Arthritic Girl Back in Care of Mother; December 16, 1990
The Miami Herald: Mom, Girl Together after State Ends Fight over Treatments; December 17, 1990

Return to Inspirational and Fantasy Books and Poems by Child Prodigy Shirley Cheng, Parental Rights Advocate


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