By now, most Interim readers will have heard about young Tyrell Dueck of Saskatchewan. A judge ordered the 13-year-old bone cancer victim to undergo chemotherapy, and possibly amputation, against his and his parents’ wishes. Tyrell underwent two court-ordered courses of chemotherapy, but terminated the treatments at the end of February.Tyrell’s parents, Timothy and Yvonne Dueck, wanted to send him to a clinic in Tijuana, Mexico, for “alternative” cancer treatment. Tyrell agreed with that plan, but medical experts testified that although he is competent to make independent decisions about his treatment options, he has been influenced by alleged “misinformation” from his father.

“Tyrell has the capacity to make the decision, but what is missing is his ability to gain accurate information from the medical community,” said psychiatrist Dr. Donald Duncan. I guess we can interpret that to mean that Tyrell is capable of making his own decisions, so long as they conform to medical orthodoxy. According to Dr. Duncan, the Duecks have a “right-wing, fundamentalist, faith-healing,” Christian world view. We might ask what relevance the Duecks’ politics have to their competence in advising their son on his options? Must one be a leftist to evaluate such matters correctly?

Duncan is quoted as saying that Timothy Dueck’s “belief system” makes him feel that it is his sole responsibility to make decisions for his son and to protect him. The implication is that parents are only justified in making decisions regarding their children’s welfare that conform to establishment orthodoxy. Deviate from that, and in swoops the state.

Just hours after Justice Allison Rothery granted the provincial social services minister power to make medical decisions on his behalf, Tyrell was admitted to hospital. Social services announced that doctors could proceed with whatever treatment they deemed necessary.

At this stage, however, doctors concluded that the disease had spread to Tyrell’s lungs, reducing his chance of survival to 10 per cent. Other doctors have since contradicted that conclusion, but it led social services to back off, and let Tyrell decide for himself about conventional treatments.

“I think Tyrell would not be in the situation he is today if social services had not stepped in two months ago,” Tyrell’s uncle Kevin Hildebrandt, told the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix.

Dr. Duncan was right about one thing: this dispute is about belief systems. Conventional medicine operates within a narrow system of its own, dogmatically maintaining that all healing modalities falling outside its boundaries – chiropractic, traditional Oriental medicine, homeopathic, herbal, nutritional therapy, and others – are “unscientific,” “unproven,” and probably “quackery” to a greater or lesser degree. The operative attitude is that, “If we can’t deal with it on our terms, it does not exist, because only our terms are valid.”

Consequently, people who question or challenge the medical establishment’s belief system are regarded legally and socially as heretics against the great church of modern, allopathic medicine, and persecuted as such. If you think “persecuted” is too strong a word, ponder the implications of having your body pumped full of toxic chemicals or a limb amputated against your will.

The medical establishment jealously guards its legal monopoly on clinical judgment, which the state and most of the public accept uncritically. As long as conventional medicine had the last word about treatment, the outcome of Tyrell’s hearing was a foregone conclusion.

Judge Rothery decided that Tyrell had been “misguided by his father into placing his hopes for recovery on a cure that does not exist,” she said. “This is simply cruel to Tyrell.” How did she know that a cure does not exist in Mexico? Only on the prejudiced say-so of the medical monopoly.

By pure coincidence, last week I happened to watch a video about a hospital near Tijuana that treats cancer and other degenerative diseases with unconventional therapies. Either a remarkably talented and diverse group of actors were hired, or this hospital’s patients are extremely satisfied with the treatment they receive, and many have experienced dramatic health improvement.