The right of parents and children to refuse medical care has been tested in several court cases, without a definitive result, lawyers say.
In 2007, lawyers for Abraham Cherrix of Virginia reached an agreement with a judge allowing the boy, who had resisted chemotherapy for Hodgkin's lymphoma, to forgo the treatment as long as he continued to see a licensed oncologist. The Virginia Legislature later passed a law allowing children at age 14 to make their own medical decisions.
In Harlingen, Texas, in 2005, county officials placed 12-year-old Katie Wernecke in foster care for six months after her parents refused conventional treatment for her Hodgkin's disease but later returned her to her parents. Two years later, the Associated Press reported that her cancer had gone into remission and then returned.
A Utah judge ruled in February that the parents of Parker Jensen had no right under the state constitution to sue the state for ordering their son into cancer treatment, though the state eventually abandoned its efforts to force the boy into chemotherapy. At a court hearing last fall, the parents said the boy was healthy.