Parents Vs. the State

When I wrote about HIV dissidents earlier this week, I ended my post with a postscript that stated I didn't necessarily think legal action should be taken against an HIV-positive mother whose untreated child recently died of AIDS:

As a postscript to this analysis, let me comment on the case as it stands now. Rumor has it that the child’s parents are being investigated with the intention of possibly charging them with a crime for exposing their child to HIV and failing to treat. Most people who have written about this case who also agree with my conclusions support this course of action.

But I think I can, at the very least, make a good argument why this should not happen. In all I have read regarding this case, and from all I have read of Christine Maggiore and her activism, I have seen no evidence that she has an agenda that exceeds advocating for what she finds to be the truth. Also, I choose to believe, until presented with evidence otherwise, that she was a loving mother who is very saddened by the loss of her daughter. Though her beliefs, and the actions that extended from them, may have directly led to the infection of her daughter with HIV, its progression to AIDS, and her death from its complications, I believe the pain that Ms. Maggiore now suffers from the consequences of those beliefs is more than any punishment that she should have to endure.

She shares responsibility in this child’s death. But she was acting in good faith in what she thought was the best interests of her child. I don’t see any crime in that.

Charles Johnson correctly pointed out in the comments that this analysis was incomplete. I purposefully did not flesh out the arguments to make it an airtight (or even good) argument. Thus, I left myself open to criticism of these views; I didn't help by some randomly and thoughtlessly thrown together statement in the comments. So, I expanded the argument in the comments to present the case to the many who disagree with me. He it is:

So a body of scientific evidence exists that comments on the hypothesis that a) HIV causes AIDS and b) drugs that control the virus are beneficial to exposed children. Now, I, and almost everyone else, read that evidence to say that the hypotheses should be accepted. Overwhelmingly. Christine Maggiore does not. It follows from her belief then, that treating her child would be harmful.

If Maggiore is deemed otherwise competent to hold custody of her child, and if she truly believes that a given treatment would harm her, and not help her, then, assuming the mother is acting in good faith in what she perceives as the best interests of her child, I’m not so sure the state should have the authority to intercede.

There is a legitimate argument which states that the scientific evidence for the hypotheses above is so strong, that maybe the state should intercede in the best interests of the child. OK. But one has to acknowledge that there are situations where the evidence is not so strong and the decision that would be “in the best interest of the child” is not so clear. There was a case last year where a local authority tried to press charges of child abuse against a father who refused to put his hyperactive son on Ritalin. Now, that clearly escapes the bound of state authority. But the question becomes: where do you draw the line?

I am, at least, making the case for the argument that maybe it should not be drawn at all. All things considered, I trust parents more to look after the best interests of their children, compared to the state. Now certainly parents can do some extremely evil things, and, clearly, this case turned out for the worst; but I like my rule in general, and would be careful before I went around making exceptions for different diseases.

The cases of failure to treat due to religious concerns are not analogous to this. Stories of Jehovah’s Witnesses and blood transfusions and Christian Scientists and cancer treatment do not speak to this argument at all. Not that it would necessarily come to a different conclusion (but I think it does), it just had to b answered separately. One issue accepts the truth of the impact of a treatment on a disease, it just ignores it for religious concerns. The other rejects the beneficence of the treatment altogether.

And that’s the issue at hand. Who is the final arbiter of the conclusions of science as it pertains to a child? The state or the parents? Assuming that the parents are acting in good faith toward what they think are the child’s best interests, I, for now, choose parents.

As an aside: If you disagree, then take it further. Should the state simply dictate guidelines for how pediatricians should treat each child (deferring, of course to the doctors’ best judgment, when necessary)? Why do the docs even ask the parents for permission at all? If the state is the final arbiter of scientific medical evidence, then the treatments should just be mandated, right? I guess permission is asked just because it sounds nice? The language of these questions may sound ridiculous, and I am being a little facetious here, but I think the fundamental questions are legitimate. Not unanswerable for my opponents, but legitimate.

Again, I am not necessarily saying that this case wouldn’t fall behind a line where we have to step in and hold the parents accountable; but for those who are, the burden is on you to state where and how to draw the line, and why it should be drawn there.

Link Round-Up:
HIV Dissidents
HIV Dissidents, Continued
HIV Dissidents: The Continuing Saga
Parents Vs. The State
Maggiore on PrimeTime Live

Respectful Insolence 1
Respectful Insolence 2
Respectful Insolence 3
Nick Bennett's Rebuttal to Al-Bayati's Report

The Medical Examiner's Report
Mohammed Al-Bayati's Comment on ME's Report

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Do the writers of ER read

Do the writers of ER read these posts?

I'm not sure I agree with

I'm not sure I agree with your burden-shifting argument -- it's too prone to reductio. If the parent is "the final arbiter of the conclusions of science as it pertains to a child," does this include conclusions of science like gravity? You have to distinguish a parent who does not believe in HIV/AIDS and so acts stupidly from one who does not believe in, eg, gravity and acts stupidly. I think that most people will agree that a parent who hucks a child off a twelve story building expecting the kid to fly is committing some sort of crime. Refusing AIDS treatment for that child differs only in that gravity is a more settled matter than AIDS.

We are really looking at a continuum here, running from gravity to AIDS to Ritalin to homeopathy to [insert reductio ad absurdum here]. You have placed the line, I presume, between gravity and AIDS. Others place it between AIDS and Ritalin. Some clearly place it between Ritalin and, eg, homeopathy. But your line is not more privileged than theirs, and you can't say that the burden is on them because your line is somehow more intrinsic.

Wherever you put the line, someone can find some absurd conclusion to put on the other side of it. Unless you wish to make children entirely the disposable chattel of their parents in the name of any absurdity they may call science, you have just as much a line to draw as anyone else.

Trent: Per your request, I

Trent: Per your request, I am posting on this board regarding the legal issues surrounding Maggiore's case.

You drew a distinction between not treating for religious reasons or because you disagree with ironclad science. In both cases, parents believe wholeheartedly that they're acting in the best interest of their child (is believing your child will spend eternity in hell any less persuasive than believing HIV is harmless and antivirals are lethal?).

But let me make something perfectly clear. If we were still in the time of 1990 and HIV/AIDS still, ultimately, resulted in death, I would be against criminal charges for Maggiore. When toxic treatments only increase a child's lifespan by months or slightly longer, parents should have the right to decide the benefits don't outweigh the harm. But HIV antivirals have extended the lives of patients indefinitely - this is now a relatively manageable disease, rather than a fatal one.

The evidence for HIV=AIDS is stronger than the evidence for most other pathogens we've accepted to be true. Maggiore is never convinced of it. Despite the untimely death of EJ, the coroner's report and the millions of other human beings who suffered immune collapse with only one common denominator, HIV. Maggiore has no scientific evidence, just a belief - no different than the belief of a Jehovah's Witness. Well, so far, Americans don't get a "get out of jail free" card for killing their kids over their personal beliefs.

Trent, I'm sorry, I trully don't mean to be antagonistic about this. I've followed this woman's rhetoric for years and her influence on the lives of gullible people has been catastrophic. But that was persuasion and I don't fault her criminally for that. Where her children are concerned, she simply acted irresponsibly from birth through the death of EJ. She has no evidence to support her claims, yet breastfed both children for years, something that may have caused EJ's HIV infection. So even on the "off chance" the mainstream scientists were right about HIV, she didn't even try to avoid passing it on. This isn't just about the antivirals, this began with the deliberate and brazen transmission of a lethal virus.

This is a clear case of homicidal neglect. If you still believe her heartbreak over the death of her child should absolve her from criminal prosecution, that's your choice. I certainly don't agree with that and hope you're not in good company. If that means I'm not merciful, then I'm okay with that. After all, it is Maggiore - not me - who maintains that she acted appropriately and that her position has not changed in the least.

With that, how many more children should Maggiore be allowed to breastfeed, infect and kill by denying appropriate healthcare before she is criminally charged and stopped? I truly don't mean this question to be flip but is there a number? Do you get to use one of your kids as a guinea pig for your beliefs? Two kids? I mean, when does the child's health and well-being rate above the deluded fantasies of their parents Trent?

But you didnt answer my main

But you didnt answer my main question. You drew a distinction between if this happened in 1990 now, stating that in 1990 she would not be liable. When did it cross the line? And why was that line drawn in the first place? These are the questions you must answer because you favor state action.

Note: I am adding to this comment because I hadn't read Grant's comment, and should probably address it. Your analogy isn't perfect, unless your gravity scenario includes some instance where the parent thought not throwing the baby off the building. Maggiore truly thought giving her child some antivirals would be harmful. As ridiculous as this may sound, she really beleived that. I don't think the state can hold her resposible for that good-faith belief (science is doing a good job f holding her responsible).

This does not mean that the state can't force treatment - this is where her quack doctors come in. Doctors may not be afforded the same lattitude in evaluating scientific evidence in their practice as there parents. As her doctors knew she was at risk for HIV and was untreated, proper care could involve a court order for a test and treatment. I'm not necessarily saying the state can't force the treatment of a child when the parents stupidly reject it. I'm just saying the state can't punish the parents for those stupid views (they are not beliefs per se; we are talking about science, not religion).

I drew the line the minute

I drew the line the minute HIV/AIDS became a manageable disease as opposed to a fatal one.

If it were still 1990, I may not agree with Maggiore's treatment decisions for illness (homeopathy, juicing, colonic therapy, yoga meditation) but I would concede that because HIV treatment would likely only extend the life of the child by a relatively short period of time and at a high price (quality of life issues regarding drug side effects), her treatment and that of mainstream medicine would yield the same outcome. In that situation, let the parents do as they see best - the alternative couldn't, ultimately, do better anyway.

But that is NOT the case today. And that is the crucial distinction. The line is 99.9% of the entire HIV/AIDS infrastructure on the side of treatment that turns fatal illness into treatable illness AGAINST the side that has no evidence for their mass deadly conspiracy theory for profit by the infrastructure, invokes endless strawman arguments and brainwashes parents into refusing life-saving treatment for their children.

Trent: You said, "we are

Trent: You said, "we are talking about science, not religion."

On the CONTRARY, if there is no evidence to support the denialist's claims then it is a belief (and in that light, not really indistinguishable from religion). Scientific theory has very strict criteria Trent, you know this. Theories in science aren't the same as the colloquial term. Scientific theories must be testable and falsifiable. HIV has been isolated, photographed and hundreds of papers exist illustrating it's pathogenesis to AIDS. That Maggiore denies all of it doesn’t matter one iota.

Because a parent denies the benefits of a blood transfusion in a child who’s lost blood supply following trauma, does it matter if they’re against the transfusion because of religious dogma or if it’s because they believe receiving donor blood causes cancer? There is evidence for neither; they’re both BELIEFS. And when minor children are subjected to certain death over their parents beliefs, that constitutes negligent homicide.

The shorter comment:

The shorter comment: "beliefs" and "views" are synonyms.

Driving ‘Round The

Driving ‘Round The Blogosphere
Light, and not so light, reading for a Saturday evening.


Perhaps a good litmus test

Perhaps a good litmus test for when the state can intervene is if those with the authority to intervene suffer similar or worse consequences than the parent if they make the wrong choice. If the mother makes the wrong choice, her child potentially suffers and dies. If someone in authority in the government forces the wrong choice on the mother, perhaps they should be individually responsible for fully compensating the mother for the loss of her child. I don't see how anyone in authority can be trusted to make the correct decision otherwise. The government officials can carry "wrong decision insurance" similar to malpractice insurance in medicine. It is important that the taxpayer not foot the bill for something like this: making the correct decisions in government is just too important, and therefore increases in insurance rates must be passed on directly to the official involved. The premium should therefore come straight out of their salary. We can be really nice and deduct the premium on a pre-tax basis, though, since it's essentially a business cost.

No liability -> no authority, as far as I'm concerned.

t is important that the

t is important that the taxpayer not foot the bill for something like this: making the correct decisions in government is just too important, and therefore increases in insurance rates must be passed on directly to the official involved. The premium should therefore come straight out of their salary. We can be really nice and deduct the premium on a pre-tax basis, though, since it’s essentially a business cost.

I think this is irrelevant to the argument, because we're talking about a criteria for determining legitimate intervention in the first place. You can't assign damages for a crime if you fail to recognize a crime has occurred.

Oops, posted in the wrong

Oops, posted in the wrong thread. Sorry Sean. ^_^

Christine Maggiore is a

Christine Maggiore is a mother in this case, but she is also a public educator, publishing and selling a book which is titled "What if EVERYTHING You Knew About AIDS Was Wrong?". She is not a scientist nor medical doctor, but she wrote her book with the aid of people who claim to be scientists and medical doctors. As long as it is legal to publish and sell misinformation about HIV, AIDS, cancer and other medical conditions, it should be legal to follow that misinformation in making an "informed decision" about how to best treat or not treat a medical condition.

It is illegal to shout "FIRE!!" in a crowded movie theater. It is not illegal to run for the door and drag your children along with you, after someone else has yelled "FIRE!!".

This week a lawsuit was filed against the University of California at Berkeley because of some wording on pages about evolution and religion. Similar lawsuits have been won over other minor bits of misinformation on the WWW. As far as I know, nobody has ever cared enough to sue or for any misinformation on their sites.

This case of Eliza Jane Scovill should not be about Christine Maggiore the mother who took the advice of "medical and scientific experts" into acount in deciding to ignore HIV. It should be about those "experts" who provided the advice she took. Prossecuting Christine cannot bring Eliza Jane back to life. Prossecuting the purveyors of misinformation on important medical decisions can set a precedent that will save countless lives in the future.

Prossecuting the purveyors

Prossecuting the purveyors of misinformation on important medical decisions can set a precedent that will save countless lives in the future.

Well, maybe if you were a consequentialist that would make sense, but fortunately I'm a natural-rights type and that argument won't fly. :sleep:

It is illegal to shout “FIRE!!” in a crowded movie theater. It is not illegal to run for the door and drag your children along with you, after someone else has yelled “FIRE!!".

Why does the government have the right to tell theater managers how to run their theaters? As Walter Block points out in his book the theater owner can set whatever rules he likes (supposing the customers are informed of course), up to and including unplanned interruptions.

Doctor Duke: Christine

Doctor Duke: Christine Maggiore did not take the advise of "medical and scientific experts." She has been peddling this crap for years. Christine Maggiore took information from hundreds of credible, published, peer-reviewed studies regarding not only the existence of HIV but also its parthenogenesis to AIDS and compiled her own egregious "theory of HIV" based on her own carefully selected sound bites of information. That does not a study make.

She then packaged that lethal fantasy, hung a shingle via her website "Alive and Well Alternatives" and preyed on desperate human beings happy to learn that HIV is harmless. People have died following the rhetoric of Christine Maggiore but that was their prerogative. Eliza Jane had no say in her healthcare decisions. Maggiore needs to be responsible for that.

Katy, I would still view

Katy, I would still view Christine largely as a victim. If she did not find "dissident scientists" to support her I don't think she would have written her book. That is not to say that she should be free from responsibility for her actions. It seems like this responsibility is finally catching up with her.

It is worth looking at the names of Christine's Advisory Board

Here's a selection.

Dr Mohammed Ali Al-Bayati, PhD, DABT, DABVT
Pathologist, Toxicologist
President of Toxi-Health International
Dixon, CA

Dr Harvey Bialy, PhD
Adjunct Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology University of Miami School of Medicine
Miami, FL

Dr Peter H. Duesberg, PhD
Member of the National Academy of Sciences
Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, CA

Eleni Eleopulos, MSc
Professor of Medical Physics
University of Western Australia
Perth, Australia

Dr Paul M. Fleiss, MD, MPH
Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatrics
University of Southern California Medical Center
Los Angeles, CA

Dr Andrew Maniotis, PhD
Program Director for the Department of Pathology, Anatomy, Cell Biology and Bioengineering
University of Illinois at Chicago
Chicago, IL

Dr Kary B. Mullis, PhD
1993 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry
La Jolla, CA

Peggy O'Mara
Editor and Publisher of Mothering Magazine
Santa Fe, NM

Dr David Rasnick, PhD
Creator of Protease Inhibitors
Visiting Professor at University of California, Berkeley
San Francisco, CA

They all share the responsibility to differing degrees for what happened to Eliza Jane.

Stephan, the government does

Stephan, the government does not tell theater owners every detail of how to run their business. The govenment only says that citizens have a right to expect reasonable safety. The point is not about theaters, it is about where "free speach" or "freedom of expession" ends; at the point where it puts others in danger or actually harms them.

The government also says that false advertising and other forms of telling lies can be illegal. If I want to claim I have a cure for AIDS or cancer I should have some evidence. I am not a lawyer, so I am not sure about the laws that apply to selling a cure pill, but they seem to be different from the laws about giving free advice or selling advice. Also, there are different laws for substances claimed to be "medicine" vs substances claimed only to be "suppliments".

HIV/AIDS denial is certainly not unique. There are many more people who claim that cancer does not exist, or that they have the cure for cancer, tuberculosis, polio, or any other human problem. There are also people sho sell software that is claimed to speed up your computer, people who sell gadgets claimed to increase the fuel efficiency of your car or home furnace etc.

The point I was trying to make, is not that any government needs to spell out exactly when and where people can and can't tell lies, it was that once a lie or set of lies has resulted in a death, great bodily harm, or loss of finances, perhaps at least some of the blame should fall on the liars, and not all of the blame should fall on the person who believed the lies.

Katy, I agree that Christine Maggiore the author of "What if Everything You Knew About AIDS Was Wrong" is not blameless. I am only trying to point out that in this particular case, Christine and Robin had two roles; parents and public educators. Christine and Robin the parents have some blame to take, but Christine and Robin the public educators have additional blame to take along with Dr. David Rasnick et al.

For a related case, in which

For a related case, in which the parents were not involved in selling misinformation, you can look at the case of Dominik Feld.
This 9 year-old German boy was diagnosed with cancer, and his parents refused conventional treatments and opted instead for Dr. Rath's "Cellular Medicine" cure for cancer. Once Dominik died, Dr. Rath claimed that it was not the cancer that killed him:

When an adult is taken in my a scam, we might rightly say that they made their own foolish choices. But children can be harmed by the choices their parents make, and perhaps those cases should be treated differently.

The point I wanted to mke though, is that as long as it is legal to tell lies about any given topic, it is my opinion that it should be legal for someone else to believe those lies.

In the case of Domink Feld, the German courts have apparently asked Dr. Rath to stop advertising his cancer cure.

Stephan, the government does

Stephan, the government does not tell theater owners every detail of how to run their business. The govenment only says that citizens have a right to expect reasonable safety. The point is not about theaters, it is about where “free speach” or “freedom of expession” ends; at the point where it puts others in danger or actually harms them.

Well yes, but you're ignoring the possibility that the theater patrons are OK with the performance being disrupted. Said differently, citizens have no right to "reasonable safety" if at the door they proclaim that they don't want reasonable safety.

The government also says that false advertising and other forms of telling lies can be illegal. If I want to claim I have a cure for AIDS or cancer I should have some evidence. I am not a lawyer, so I am not sure about the laws that apply to selling a cure pill, but they seem to be different from the laws about giving free advice or selling advice. Also, there are different laws for substances claimed to be “medicine” vs substances claimed only to be “suppliments".

The usual libertarian way of determining if an instance of lying is a rights-violation is to ask if it represents implicit theft. For example, if I promise to give you apples in exchange for money, but instead deliver rocks, I've implicitly stolen your money. However, standing at a street corner and exhorting passersby to buy a cure for AIDS that in reality is snake oil is perfectly compatible with libertarianism; mere lying, in and of itself, violates no rights.

However, standing at

However, standing at a
street corner and exhorting passersby to buy a cure for AIDS that in
reality is snake oil is perfectly compatible with libertarianism

Come again? Unless I misunderstand, that seems like fraud, and the last time I checked, fraud was in no way consistent with libertarianism. Do I misunderstand?

Come again? Unless I

Come again? Unless I misunderstand, that seems like fraud, and the last time I checked, fraud was in no way consistent with libertarianism. Do I misunderstand?

Ah I should have been more specific; I meant exhorting people to, in general, purchase a particular kind of snakeoil. See my above post on the definition of fraud as implicit theft (due to Rothbard, others?). On my understanding of libertarianism the following are implicit theft:

-Selling someone a product which does not work as intended
-Selling someone a product which violates a legitimate implicit contract (like selling someone apple juice with poison in it, or charging someone admission to a theater and then killing them).
-Selling someone one thing while having promised them another.

However the following are not in my understanding:

-Merely offering to sell a product which does not work as intended, etc.
-Standing on a street corner hollering that if you believe in Jesus you'll go to heaven.
-Putting up a website exhorting people to go purchase faulty medication.
-Standing on a street corner shouting that "A != A".

So if you offer to sell a

So if you offer to sell a snakeoil cure for AIDS, that's OK, but as soon as someone actually buys it, that's a crime?

(I'm OK with that, BTW)

Basically yeah. The idea is

Basically yeah. The idea is that the basic theme of libertarianism is property and force, so anything it covers has to somehow be analytically reducible to these two concepts (that's why libertarianism doesn't cover love and why fuzzy kittens are cute, imho). In this case Rothbard (Rand? Others?) accomplish this by reducing fraud to a sort of indirect theft.

Note however that libertarianism doesn't permit you to just utter arbitrary sequences of sounds, because some of those sounds might be "I'm about to kill you so give me your money".... In that scenario I would say the aggression has already appeared by virtue of your verbalization of it, so you're justified in responding though "the trigger hasn't actually been pulled", to paraphrase Ayn Rand. However the aggression signified by the implicit theft in the previous case doesn't appear until the process of exchange takes place.

Chris, I agree that

Chris, I agree that Christine found a couple of scientists on the fringe who offered her something more palatable than HIV disease and she jumped at it.

But I will bet you I can find a famous scientist who believes in alien abductions and has conversations with talking rodents that glow in the dark. In fact, that would be Kerry Mullis, the guy who won the Nobel Prize for the invention of PCR and, by no coincidence, an HIV denialist.

The point is that it's a big earth and if you look hard enough, you'll find an "expert" of any field who disagrees with 99.9% of the rest of his field. Christine Maggiore's choices for herself are fine, she has a right to seek out the craziest position on the block and bet her life on it. But to turn her children into her personal guinea pigs is neither legal nor excusable.

Frankly, I support the law in stating that an HIV+ mother cannot be forced to ingest medications against her will. That's not to say I think it's moral or wise but no one should be forced to take medications they refuse to take and a woman's right to her own body supersedes that of the fetus' right to life. Now, the instant that child exits the womb - it becomes an autonomous human being worthy of every protection of the law, even if he/she needs to be protected from the deadly choices of his/her own parents.

Ultimately, the "advisory" list doesn't wash in terms of excusing criminal responsibility.

And in NO WAY am I suggesting the 3 doctors involved and Eliza Jane's father are blameless - they are all responsible in this deadly debacle.

Doctor Duke: In theory your

Doctor Duke: In theory your position is, of course, preferable. But for as long as the earth has turned and until it spins off its axis, there will always be conspiracy theorists and outright kooks in every single field of science, medicine, business, etc.

Christine Maggiore isn't an innocent bystander who was "brainwashed" by sophisticated opportunists. She sought out Professor Peter Duesberg, not the reverse. And despite the death of her own daughter from PCP and HIV-encephalitis, she's refused to question her awful understanding regarding HIV disease and how it has impacted the lives of millions of other people (remember, this is a woman who put a dangerous bug in the ear of South African President Thabo Mbeki).

Worse still is that even in light of the coroner's report, the PCP in the child's lung found by silver staining, the brain lesions, the P24 antigen exclusive only to HIV positive individuals - she has wavered not one iota. Even after her daughter's death to this preventable insidious disease, she did not send the report to another coroner to review but, instead, intentionally constructed a smoke screen by giving the report to well-known HIV denialist Al-Bayati. And when this guy parrots the coroner's report in order to comment on it, the remarks are chilling. He concedes the coroner found what he says but then explains it all away and lists various other ridiculous and implausible possibilities for Eliza Jane's death - going so far as to claim the P24 test was a false positive. Huh?! Based on what?! And Maggiore seems grateful for the fictional report without hesitation so she can proceed with this twisted game.

Am I correct in assuming

Am I correct in assuming that this case would be solved in Libertopia thusly?

Some party would sue for custody of the child citing the parents' medical behavior/beliefs as abusive. A court would review whether the plaintiff would be a preferable guardian, taking into account not only that the child could have access to a specific medical treatment in the new home, but the child's complete emotional and physical well-being, including the separation from his/her current home. If the plaintiff wins, that party has legal responsibility for raising the child to adulthood.

I believe that this is preferable to the current situation because the court will have to choose between two actual guardians rather than between the child's current guardian and some hypothetical standard. Further, there is an opportunity for those who disagree with the child's care (assuming they know the details, as they seem to have in this case) to intervene before the child's death rather than to complain after the fact.

Katy, I never said that I

Katy, I never said that I fealt that Christine and Robin were without blame, or if I did so, I mis-spoke. It is my opinion that they have two types of blame, one as the parents who should have sought reasonable treatment rather than seeing only doctors who would not test for HIV etc, and two as public educators who encourage other parents to not seek reasonable treatment for themselves and their children.

I'm not a lawyer and don't know all of the laws of the USA or California. I also realize that there are "grey areas" in nearly all topics, the world is not black and white. Is advising someone not to take a pill that is a proven cure equivalent to advising them to take a pill that is worthless, or advising them to take poison? In this case of course, as in most medical cases, there is no "proven cure", only some treatments that shift the odds. It is illegal not to buckle you child into a government-approved car seat, even if you feel that the risk of your child being harmed by that seat is greater than the protection it affords because you feel that you are a careful driver or because your driveway is along a river with a greater risk of going into the river and drowning, than being hit by a truck, or whatever. So in some caess, we have very specific laws about risks that are acceptable to take with our children, and in other cases we have no laws.

In my opinion, society is better served by attempting to prevent suffering, than by punishment after the fact. However, there are also arguments to be made about punishment after the fact being useful to "set an example" to deter others.

Christine and Robin did not deliberately kill Eliza Jane. They made choices that resulted in her death, but all parents make choices for their children every day. Is it safer for you child to ride the bus or ride a bike to school? Which is more fun? If he or she rides a bike and dies, should you be punished? What if there were a body of scientific analysis showing that the odds of being killed riding a bike to school are 10,000 times greater than the odds of being killed riding the bus, but you chose to believe the web sites and books which claimed that this scientific analysis was bogus school bus industry propaganda?

My personal opinion is that telling lies that result in harm should be a crime. But then where do we draw the line between telling lies and simply "twisting the truth"?

If Eliza Jane was suffering from a fungal infection (Pneumocystis carinii is a fungus, not a bacteria) was it reasonable to prescribe an antibacterial drug? Should culture or gram stain or some other diagnostic procedure have been done? Or is it acceptable to just "guess" that an infection is probably due to a bacteria? Although the coroner apparently did not know that Christine was HIV-infected, I suspect that Gordon and Fleiss knew.

A couple more discoveries I

A couple more discoveries I just made.

1) Dr. Incao prescribed the amoxicillin just hours (less than 48 hours) before EJ's death. posted just days after EJ died.

2) Dr. Incao is on the board of diretors of Alive and Well (along with Al-Bayati and Fleiss).

3) Dr. Incao preaches that childhood illness is good for kids, that vaccinations should be avoided, and that antibiotics should be used only as a last resort.

The news about EJ posted to the web dated May 19, 2005 states that it was "just a simple ear infection", yet also makes it clear that 3 different doctors made at least 5 visits to their house in the weeks leading up to EJ's death. So it must have been a bit more worrisome than most ear infections that I have seen. According to Incao's web sites, he would not have prescribed any antibiotic until things got really bad.

Doctor Duke: I'd like to

Doctor Duke:

I'd like to steer clear from your attempt to align the risks associated with making daily life decisions for our children against decisions about terminal illnesses. I hope we're not now getting into the business of splicing tidbits to make sensational points. A parent who allows their child a trip to Disney World on a jet vs. a car ride is not likely to be found criminally negligent should a terrorist decide to blow up the plane. Some things, I trust, aren't worthy of a comparison that plummets this thread into the depths of ridiculousness!

Doctor Duke, to call the monitoring of an HIV infected child (viral load, CD4 count) and treatment of said child merely "shifting odds" from that of an unmonitored and untreated HIV+ child is almost more frightening than the logic used by Ms. Maggiore. HIV monitoring and treatment is paramount in forestalling AIDS and death indefinitely.

I conceded earlier that if we were talking of a terminal illness for which "treatment" yields negligible benefit with substantial harm (side effects, more illness), Eliza Jane's parents wouldn't likely find themselves under criminal investigation. Few would find fault in a parent who declines treatment for, say, metastasized Retinoblastoma (patently terminal) in order to grant their child more time without illness from treatment, knowing said treatment would have no appreciable benefit.

But this is NOT the case with HIV disease in the 21st Century. There is no cure for diabetes anymore than HIV disease but that doesn't mean monitoring and treatment of diabetes in a child is merely "shifting odds" as we've found treatment to be quite successful in saving lives for decades and turning what would have been a fatal disease into a manageable disease. Sounds exactly like the improvements in HIV disease.

Please remember that Christine Maggiore and Robin Scovill stood inside a hospital ward fielding questions from doctors who were frantically trying to save their child's life and intentionally withheld what was unarguably vital information. Not only did the child's mother breastfeed (an act known to transmit HIV), she refused to test her child for the virus which closed the door to monitoring her disease process. Then the child becomes critically ill and the parents remain silent about the mother's known HIV infection. Is that not a clear indication of a commitment to harmless HIV over a commitment to the child? Otherwise, why not just be forthcoming with the doctors about your medical history when your child lay critically ill? In fact, why bring the child to the hospital only to withhold medical information while asking them to help?

And if these parents are protected from criminal prosecution, it will establish a deadly precedent. Going forward, parents who decide their child's asthma, peanut allergy, diabetes, malignant tumor, HIV is non-existent and merely a product of Big Pharma's conspiratorial plot to make a quick buck, get a free pass to kill their kids by neglect.

Good points Katy. From what

Good points Katy. From what I have read, most of this crime was not committed in the emergency room as doctors tried to revive EJ.

"Some time after this Eliza Jane started to vomit and then suddenly, on Sunday night, went into cardiac and respiratory arrest. Heroic efforts by the ambulance crew and the E.R. trauma team could not revive her."
dated May 19, 2005

It sounds like she was pretty far gone before she even got to the E.R.

As far as I can tell, Christine and Robin religiously avoided all doctors who were not known to be vry "alternative" in their views. Do some google searching on Dr. Incao who finally at least agreed to try an antibiotic, even though he apparently did not test to see if the problem was caused by a bacteria.

The whole afair is slated to air on "ABC Prime Time" tonight:
" Thursday, Dec. 8 at 10 p.m. ET ...
Christine Maggiore is HIV positive, but doesn't believe the virus causes AIDS. Have her controversial views endangered her daughter's life?

Again, the point about bike riding vs bus was not meant to be so much about the parental choice, as about how laws are sometimes specific, sometimes not. There are laws about seat belt useage for children based on studies which show the reduce risk. As far as I know (and I am no lawyer so I could be wrong), there is no law about preventing you child from being treated for HIV.

From what I have read, I assume that Christine Maggiore was very familiar with all such laws. She often wrote and spoke about helping other mothers, such as Kathleen Tyson in Oregon, do as much as they could to withold HIV prevention and treatment from their children.

Thanks for the feedback

Thanks for the feedback Doctor Duke and I'm sorry if I misinterpreted your reference to a child dying from riding a bike as equating it with treatment for potentially terminal illnesses. If your point was restricted to what the legalities are, I would agree with that. I also am no attorney and unversed in the law. Where these issues are concerned, my gut tells me the law gives much too much leeway for these very things to take place.

Yes, I know full well about the doctors Christine Maggiore used for her children - all are considered "alternative" doctors (anti-vaccination and/or sympathetic to her "harmless HIV" delusion). I do hold all 3 docs responsible for not having insisted on an HIV test and associated tests to check the child's health (viral load, CD4 count) and have an awful feeling in the pit of my stomach that their decision not to pursue it was directly related to their own profit margins. After all, what would happen to the practice of an "alternative" pediatrician whose client base would likely be supportive of Maggiore's delusion of HIV and her rights as a mother to make those decisions? I think the backlash from either doctor's practice would have been profound. I am absolutely not saying this was the case, merely presenting it as a viable possibility given how miserably these 3 physicians failed this child they knew was a strong candidate for HIV infection.

I don't know what truly happened to Eliza Jane in her parent's house and I wish I could take the word of her mother for it but given her lack of objectivity and receptiveness to anything that is remotely HIV=AIDS related, I caution others in blindly accept her version of events as well.

It could very well be that the child was at the point of no return once she arrived in the emergency room but there is absolutely no way anyone (not the parents nor the physicians) could have known that at the time. Many people are "flat lined" and resuscitated and make complete recoveries. So I still remain astonished that her parents would withhold information that even they knew 99.9999% of the medical experts on the planet would consider vital: mom is HIV+.

We may never know if it would have made a difference at that juncture but that's exactly the point - that Eliza Jane's parents remained silent about HIV, the very culprit the coroner's report describes as the cause of infections that culminated in her death.

The ABC Primetime segment

The ABC Primetime segment last night was not very informative. They presented "both sides" of the story, but not very in-depth. And what about Robin Scovill in all of this??? My wife thought Christine was a single mom after viewing last night's show. Why is the mother any more responsible than the father in a case like this?

Christine's hour-long interview on the radio:
provided a lot more information than the ABC Primetime show. Both, however make it clear that Christine is pretty good at "spinning" the story. From what I had read on the web, I though Eliza Jane had been tested for blood oxygen content and found normal just a few hours before she died. It turns out that the normal result was from more than a week prior. Christine states that EJ could not have been immune suppressed because she had chicken pox once and got over them, and immune suppressed people never recover. Both statements are not right. How long ago did EJ have the pox? It is possible EJ contracted HIV after that time, through breast feeding, but even if she contracted HIV at birth, her immune system might have been in sharp decline only recently before her death. I know of no study showing that people with HIV infections or other causes of T-cell deficiency but normal B-cell activity cannot recover from chicken pox.

Christine told ABC that she did not choose "alternative medicine" or "dissident" pediatricians, but it is pretty simple to compare the doctors who saw EJ befor her death to the list of the Alive and Well advsory board. Dr. Gordon is not on the list with Fleiss and Incao, but he now claims that had he known Christine was HIV-seropositive he would have insisted on a test for EJ. And only Incao was consulted during the last 48 hours when EJ was declining.

The episode on Primetime

The episode on Primetime last night was even more shocking than I'd imagined.

Christine Maggiore sat and watched the microscopic slides of her child's brain and lung tissue while the coroner pointed out the evidence of encephalitis and PCP for the whole world to see and scrutinize. And what was her response? That Eliza Jane, her child, did not have the lethal infections that were evidenced and scientifically irrefutable before her eyes. That she merely died of anaphylactic shock, "orthodox medicine."

I cheered when Chris Cuomo asked her if it wasn't just possible that she'd been offered evidence after evidence after evidence but that she simply refuses to accept any of it. Her answer was a typical deflection, stating that Al-Bayati's report made more sense to her "in her heart" (now there's science at its best!) and didn't even bother to address the flagrant conflicts of interest and political agenda undermining anything Al-Bayati has to say (he's long been a staunch denier of the HIV=AIDS science and sits on Maggiore's organization's Advisory Board) but I appreciated Cuomo pointing that out to her. I mean, talk about political agendas!!! Al-Bayati's is out on a limb claiming that HIV does not cause AIDS so - obviously - he will never ever ever ever agree that Eliza Jane died of advanced, untreated HIV (i.e., AIDS). He can't or he loses his entire platform. And that's the guy she considers an unbiased reviewer of the coroner's report?

The denial of Christine Maggiore is really too pathetic for words. She came off as an ignorant, aging hippie more committed to anti-science and conspiracy theories that she feels "in her heart" over any degree of intellectual scrutiny. I was embarrassed for her but not saddened. Her arrogance and stubborn denial ended in the death of her child. Does she feel differently? Guilty? Responsible? No. Has she reconsidered her ridiculous fantasies one iota? Is she even pensive about it? No. In fact, she is apparently more resolved in her anti-orthodox medicine campaign, convinced it was amoxicillin that killed her child, despite the lack of evidence for it. I feel sorry for her? No. Do I still think she should be prosecuted for criminally negligent homicide? Yes.

Absolve her and prepare to absolve every criminally negligent parent in the country who refuses to treat their children for terminal illnesses that are manageable for the rest of the population.

A full transcript of the

A full transcript of the Primetime show is available at:

It does make it sound as though the doctors worked on EJ in the emergency room for several hours. I'm sort of surprised that ABC interviewed the coroner etc. but not ER doctors. Maybe they are not allowewed to talk about cases under investigation?

Yes Doctor Duke, that's what

Yes Doctor Duke, that's what my specific outrage yesterday was regarding their "silence." The child was not dead on arrival - she died hours later. I don't know if anything could have been done at that point but by withholding vital information, Maggiore sealed the fate of Eliza Jane. Naturally the ER doctors asked Christine questions about Eliza's health and Maggiore knows full well that her own HIV+ status is something 99.99% of the medical establishment on this earth would consider highly relevant, life-saving information. Yet she withheld that information. Her reason (given to Primetime): to get an unbiased opinion of what was wrong with Eliza Jane.

What?! $*&%^@#$^! How recklessly criminal! To possess a fact you know every "mainstream" medical expert considers highly relevant and keep it silent while your child clings to life?!

Imagine bringing in your child after a Rattlesnake bite and remaining silent about why he/she is unconscious, or your diabetic child who has passed out and disclosing nothing. All to "get an unbiased opinion" of what's wrong with your child?! So you'd risk your child's life in a sick game of "Let's see if the ER docs can figure this out before the child dies?" And she's not even remotely shaken by this?! Nope, she did everything in her power for her daughter.

Christine Maggiore's arrogant delusions know no bounds. If this isn't a case that clearly calls for criminal prosecution on the grounds of gross homicidal neglect, what is?

If you made your living

If you made your living selling rattlesnakes, you might fear that it would harm your business to admit that they can be dangerous. Did Christine and Robin have any other source of income besides Alive and Well and The Other Side of AIDS? Has the tax man ever had a look at and other sites that take in money on this deal?

:lol: Such good questions


Such good questions and points Doctor Duke, just cracked me up!

From all I can gather, Christine Maggiore and Robin Scovill are deeply and exclusively entrenched in the anti-HIV=AIDS business.

Don't you just love how the folks in this camp are so anti-mainstream medicine (i.e., Big Pharma) and tout the wholesome and curative benefits of herbs and holistic medicine. Yet that stuff's just as much of a business as Big Pharma. What's worse is that it's totally unregulated. They can make any wild claim they want about anything, you pay for it with cold hard cash (insurance companies don't fund the witchdoctor's brew), it turns out to be a pink sugar pill and you can't do a damned thing about it. But they're happy to sell you sixteen other things you need that don't work either.

You have no studies to reference, no support and no course of action to take after you've been robbed. Look at Kevin Trudeau - the guy is a snake oil salesman to the core. Can't sell his "cure" remedies after a plea bargain agreement with Uncle Sam for his fraudulent activities so he wrote a book instead for "Natural Cures the Government Doesn't Want you to Know" because he's such an altruistic human being whose conscience cannot stand by while innocent people are conned by Big Pharma. Of course, his book ain't exactly free and there are no "cures" to be found - only about a thousand references to log into his site for these "cures." Of course it's a membership-only, pay site!

I know one of the most gullible human beings on earth who bought the book and signed onto the site. "Has anything worked?" I asked her and she told me she couldn't really find any cures throughout the book or on the site - "everything seems to lead to another reference to another thing I have to pay for and I just don't have the money for all this." Yet, she still thinks he's doing a noble service. :dizzy:

Christine Maggiore certainly doesn't sit alone in the denial camp.

About your earlier comment

About your earlier comment about Christine being good at "spinning the story," I don't think you know the half of it. This movement does a first rate job of invoking strawman arguments - something exclusive to those whose position is so weak that the only way to gain support is to misstate the position of your opponent so you can knock it down.

Christine Maggiore is well versed enough in the immune system to know full well that being HIV+ and recovering from chicken pox is not inconsistent. It very much depends what a person's T-cell count is at the time of an infection to predict how well (or badly) their immune system will respond. The child may have successfully fought off various infections while her immune system could but once it fell to dangerous levels, it was subject to deadly infections it could no longer hold off at bay.

But in typical cowardly fashion, she throws out a comment like that on national television knowing full well the mainstream has never made that claim but gains the accepting nods of simpletons all over the country, "ah-ha, gee Bob she's got a point there, how did her daughter survive the chicken pox if her immune system was so faulty?" And there's another convert from the camp of the galactically stupid!

Ugh! Sometimes I don't know who nauseates me more, those who accept anything they're told without doing the least bit of homework on their own or the con artists who deceive them. It's a tough call sometimes.

I wonder what Christine

I wonder what Christine thinks she is accomplishing by telling her story on strange radio stations such as The Byte Show with George Ann Hughes.

I find it interesting that in all of these interviews, Christine fails to mention that she had a HIV-seropositive boyfriend in Italy. In recent interveiws, she makes it sound as if she had no risk for contracting HIV prior to testing HIV-seropostive herself in 1992.