“I believe that laws and customs must be carefully reviewed, revised, and even repealed if necessary, and new ones created, to reflect the continual development, evolution, and spiritual maturation of a people.” — Diane Miller
The headlines caught all of us by surprise. A mother fled from rural Sleepy Eye, MN, with her teen-age son to avoid having him undergo doctor-ordered chemotherapy to treat Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer. Drama ensued as the state of Minnesota cited parental neglect and threatened to remove Daniel from his parents, and a felony arrest warrant was issued for the boy’s mother Colleen Hauser, who reportedly wanted to take her son to Mexico for alternative treatments. Mrs. Hauser eventually returned to Minnesota with her son, and the court allowed Daniel to stay with his parents on the condition that the chemotherapy treatments go on as directed by oncologists. Updates on a family website indicate that the tumor has shrunk following several recent chemo appointments at Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis.
However, behind the scenes one Minnesota attorney and advocate for health freedom said in an exclusive interview with The Edge that the Hauser case put the spotlight on needed reform in this state regarding physician freedom. Even if oncologists treating Daniel Hauser wanted to offer a potentially groundbreaking new treatment that has been developed and practiced elsewhere, as Minnesota physicians they were not legally permitted to do so.
Diane Miller, J.D., Legal and Public Policy Director and founding member of the acclaimed National Health Freedom Coalition (NHFC) and its sister organization, the National Health Freedom Action (NHFA), said two prior attempts to change the law to allow doctors to practice holistic, integrative or alternative medicine have failed, limiting the scope of care offered to Minnesotans.
Miller’s work involves state, national, and international health freedom issues, such as: state safe harbor exemption laws for homeopaths, naturopaths and herbalists, so that traditional practitioners will not get charged with practice of medicine without a license, and expansion of state laws to allow medical professionals to practice holistic care without getting disciplined; supporting national laws that protect access to dietary supplements and that allow truthful health claims about dietary supplements; and finally, working to impact the decisions of international forum in order to protect access to natural treatments, and foods and dietary supplements around the world.
She has followed the Hauser case since April 15, and as director of the National Health Freedom Coalition, she has served as an informal consultant for lawyers defending the Hauser family. She spoke with The Edge by phone from her office in Northfield, MN, about the broader issues that have arisen from the Hauser case.
What was the principal issue in this case, from your perspective?
Diane Miller: Doctors have to practice under their medical boards. They have to stay within the accepted and prevailing minimum standard of care. Minnesota is not one of the 27 states with a statute that allows doctors to practice holistic, integrative, or alternative medicine. We have introduced a bill like that two different times – first in 1999 and again in 2006 – to allow doctors to expand their standard of care into alternative and integrative care that they have been trained in, but those bills have not passed. At this time in Minnesota, doctors can add something complementary to the treatment without losing their license, but they cannot substitute the minimum standard of care.
So in the Hauser case, the doctors were bound legally as far as how they could treat the patient.
DM: Right. There were three oncologists involved. The first oncologist gave the recommendation for chemotherapy and possible radiation. The Hausers did not want to do chemotherapy, so they got another opinion. The second opinion said “Yes, do chemotherapy, and if you don’t within seven days, we will call Child Protection.” Then the family was really upset and they got a third opinion, with the doctor telling them the same thing.
What I said as a consultant to the family’s attorney was, “You are not going to find a doctor in the United States that will not recommend chemotherapy because it is, generally speaking, the standard of care for cancer, for lymphoma.”
I just watched this unfold as it went to trial. Even the family doctors were unwilling to say they would treat it without chemotherapy, and two more family doctors said, “Yes, that’s the standard of care for conventional medicine.”
But the defense counsel called expert witnesses. The press never carried that story. The expert witnesses were Dr. Norm Shealy [one of the world's leading experts in pain management and founder of the American Holistic Medical Association], Dr. Robert Irons [reseacher in nutritional immunology], and Dr. Helen Healy [Twin Cities-area Naturopathic physician]. On cross examination, Dr. Jeffrey Kotulski of Mankato, the doctor of osteopathy who was originally seeing the family, said he would provide care for his patient, chemo or no chemo. He testified that osteopaths place more emphasis on the inherent healing power of the body. Dr. Healy listed a whole 7-stage protocol she would do on Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The court really focused on the fact that all five of these doctors said that chemotherapy was the standard for care, and that was the basis of the judge’s opinion. Although that is true, that was not the real issue for the defense. The defense was saying, “Yes, that’s the standard of care for these doctors, but you need to pick a different kind of doctor with a different standard of care.” For a pediatric oncologist in Minnesota, chemo would have been the standard of care.
The issue really is this: Is necessary medical care equivalent to a pediatric oncologist’s standard of care, or do the patients have the option to go to a different type of doctor to get care, even if they went to Switzerland or Germany or Mexico or another state that had a clinic that was a cancer care clinic of some other kind, where there is a holistic clinic. And then the other question was, if Minnesota does not provide micro-dosing for children, if it does not provide testing to see if the drugs are compatible with the person before they give them so they don’t kill them, then these parents should have the option to go to a clinic with those options available.
How often do cases like this present themselves nationally, regarding the case of the state dictating the treatment of a particular patient?
DM: In the United States, adults can walk away from chemo any time they want. Who we’re talking about here are vulnerable adults and minors.
We have freedom of treatment saying a competent adult can say no to their doctor. However, I am just finishing writing a book about that freedom. When you eliminate nine out of the ten options for adults, they do not have any other option and they don’t know what to do. They think there is only one thing that they can do. A part of our work is to get the other options legal, because they have been illegal in our country so there is no competition.
Adults can walk away if they have the courage to go home and sit in their rocking chair or go to another country or find alternatives by themselves. It is ridiculous that they have to put together their own care plans when they do not want chemo. Conventional medical care says, “No, we cannot allow things to be legal that have not been proven to cure people.”
When we decided to have FDA approval of drugs, the politics of all of this changed. We did not ever have the intention to make it so that we would have to prove everything that we use to get well. The FDA exists to make sure we don’t kill people with toxic substances, but now the perception is that before you use anything to get better, you have to prove that it works. That’s a shifting of the burden of proof in our country that is wrong, and it should be eliminated. For example, the biggest part of the Dietary Supplement Act was that supplements are considered generally regarded as safe, and the burden is on the government to show harm before they are restricted. That’s how it should be. However, the new definition of a drug is anything you use to prevent, cure or treat a disease, so if you use water to cure something, it becomes a drug legally.
Recently even something like Cheerios, which makes a claim to help people physically, is now stepping into the realm of being a drug.
DM: What they have done is configured the law so that you have a ban on freedom of speech almost in every area. Even if you have a dietary supplement on the shelf, if you say things about them as a practitioner, “Hey, this will help your cancer,” then that supplement is considered a drug and you get shut down by the federal government.
The health claim issue in products is a very big issue. So, too, are occupational laws for practitioners, who have gag orders because they can’t say things outside of their standard of care. This [Hauser] case allowed us to see how the laws are sewed up on every level. You have the product law, you have state occupational law, you have the vulnerable adult or minor children law, and with all of that you can actually force a standard of care onto somebody – even if it was a lethal thing to do. Our position is that the government has to stand down when the actual treatment itself could cause long-term significant harm or death to a child, and the legal guardian has to be able to make that decision. The government can’t.
That would include chemotherapy, any kind of vaccinations that have antigens and electrical shock treatment, anything that was damaging to a person. The government itself, the police power of the government, should not be able to force that onto a human being, even if the medical monopoly has said it is the standard of care. This whole issue about standard of care has morphed into a police power that is forcing drugs onto kids, and then they bring in the school law and begin screening kids. Any way that they can get perpetual markets for these products, they will change the law by lobbying.
In our health freedom movement, we are trying to untangle that by saying “This is what we want the law to say.” We are passing the health freedom laws like we have in Minnesota where the homeopaths and the herbalists can now practice without going to jail. We would like to have doctors be able to go expand their standard of care as long as they have been trained in it. I mean, they’ve already been to medical school. They should be able to apply what they know and learn at workshops and new science, as long as the parents are okay with it.
Do you plan on introducing the bill again to give doctors more freedom to practice?
DM: The first time, it was part of the Health Freedom Bill. The doctor’s part and the unlicensed part were in the same bill in 1999. The conventional doctors killed the doctor part. The doctors themselves voted against that. They came and said, “We don’t want our doctors to be doing alternatives.”
What defeated it the second time?
DM: The second time we introduced it, but we did not have any funds to hire a lobbyist and we never spent any time lobbying. A business owner gave a grant for $5,000 and that grant went to three attorneys who actually found sponsors and introduced it, but we did not have any further funds so we just let it sit.
Do you think there is growing interest among doctors to support it as time goes on?
DM: I think doctors are very frightened. We had a big meeting when we introduced this bill. Fifteen doctors said they would testify on behalf of that bill, only three doctors came to the meeting about it, and there was no financial support from the medical community. They do not want to be political. They do not want to risk their license.
They don’t want to be linked to it.
DM: That’s right. It has to come from the people. Doctors do not want to jeopardize their relationship with their clients or their holistic practices that are sort of underground right now in Minnesota. They do not want to get involved. If it does not come from the people, there is no way that these laws can be changed. There are medical clinics now popping up now with holistic aromatherapy, foot massage, reflexology, acupuncture and such, but that is not what I am talking about. I am talking about curing cancer. Other countries do it, we should be able to do it.
Allowing medical doctors to use alternative and integrative medicine.
DM: Right. And I think it’s great that they use complementary medicine in their practice, helping the nausea by acupuncture and such. I’m fine with that. But I would rather have Minnesota be a place where people can access alternative medicine that exists in other clinics for treating conditions like cancer, with thermography, micro-dosing of chemotherapy, Poly-MVA, fractal, autoimmune immunization of a person’s own blood, the Hoxie treatments, the Clark protocols. There are so many protocols around the world that deal with cancer without chemotherapy, and the fact that we are not up to speed on how to detoxify the body and bring it back to balance is just an egregious sign that the drug companies are running our country. The fact that they could force a drug that was lethal onto a child is a scary concept.
I have heard Dr. Shealy speak of the control of the drug companies as them being almost a mafia.
DM: Yes, he calls it the pharmaco-mafia.
How does the general public weigh in on this particular issue?
DM: Because the press did not carry the full [Hauser] case, by not printing the defense arguments they were very biased. We did not want to trust the surveys that they took, either. But we are getting a lot of feedback from the culture itself saying, “I can’t believe they would not let the parents make a decision in this case.” We don’t have our own ways of surveying, so we don’t know, but my guess is that people around the country are shocked, just plain-ol’ shocked, and that the media is doing its best to keep a lid on it.
We posted a big article and sent it into the [Minneapolis] Star Tribune about how National Health Freedom weighs in on this case, talking about the Brudzinski clinic [in Houston, TX] and the clinics in Switzerland and the Billy Best story, Gaston Naessens and 714X [alternative cancer treatments], but they did not post them. They did not post any editorials on related to health freedom, and a lot of good editorials could have been posted.
In my opinion, the press was completely biased. Maybe they did not want to take responsibility, because if Danny [Hauser] died they would be blamed. If Danny lives, they will take the credit – and the same for the doctors, too. If Danny dies and they did not give chemotherapy, they would be blamed. If Danny lives, they are going to take the credit, even if he does alternative. If he went to an alternative clinic and he died, Danny would take the blame, not the doctors. It’s set up now as a closed-box system, and our organization works hard to open up that box and to say, “Listen, our laws need to reflect the people, not money interest or media. They need to reflect the people’s choices.” We need laws to say, “If you want to do this, then you go here.”
We really need to have the laws reflect choices that, even if the drug companies don’t agree with those choices, are there for people who want to choose them. That’s our goal, to untangle this closed ban on freedom of speech and free up those options, so that there is not just one option out of ten left legally. There is no freedom if there is a monopoly.
The National Health Freedom Coalition has called the Hauser’s heroes for health freedom. Why?
DM: Because they were willing to publicly stand up to their doctor and say, “We know there are other options. We want to have them.” We get calls from parents terrified because their doctor just shamed them or they’re not taking an antibiotic or they’re scared to do something different than what their doctor says, because their doctor says they won’t treat them anymore. Doctors do not want to treat people who are not compliant.
People themselves have to stand up and say, “I want something else.” When people don’t know that there is something else, and when they can’t say, “Hey, I want something else,” they’re scared. They’re scared because of the concept that the doctor knows best, that the doctor knows everything. In our country, we give money to professionals to help us survive, and we don’t think about how are we going to survive if that professional wasn’t there. The Hausers were saying that we are equally empowered with the doctors. They were saying, “I wonder what we can do here. Let’s talk to the doctor. Let’s talk to the internet. Let’s talk to people.” They were people who were critically thinking about what can they do to save the life of their child. Their actions were the opposite of child neglect.
What is the next step for the Health Freedom Coalition in terms of getting more awareness about this issue?
DM: We are definitely going to be bringing leaders together to see what kind of legislative solution they are going to come up with. As a founder of the Minnesota Legal Reform Project, I will be asking lawmakers, “What are you going to do at the Minnesota Capitol?”
We are leaders nationally and internationally on this issue, and this think tank here in Minnesota can create a solution that will impact the whole country, just like we did with the Health Freedom Safe Harbor exemption laws for herbalists, homeopaths and traditional naturopaths. Those laws are now being introduced in 30 states, and eight states including Minnesota are now free. We have to think of the actual police power solution. What is the threshold of the government’s role in our lives? We don’t want governments to be hurting people against their will.
Particularly when there are other alternatives.
DM: Even if there are not other alternatives, but particularly when there are alternatives. This is true. Particularly when there are alternatives all over the world. The only reasons the alternatives aren’t here – and it’s not because we don’t know about them – is because they are illegal. It’s because they are banned.
For more information on the National Health Freedom Coalition, please visit www.nationalhealthfreedom.org.
Copyright © 2009 Tim Miejan. All Rights Reserved.