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October 24, 2003

The Jensen Case is Finally Over

A Utah judge has dismissed the last case pending against the Jensens.

With all the hoopla surrounding Elizabeth Smart and her family, most people have not paid much attention to the Jensens. If you remember, they were the family that had to flee Utah to prevent the State from taking their son and forcing him to have chemotherapy for a cancer that may or may not be present in his body. After much legal wrangling and political controversy, the State of Utah meekly asked a judge to dismiss the case they started four months earlier. The judge did so, but not before admonishing the Jensens for "risking" their son's life (no word on whether he admonished State officials for nearly ruining the Jensens' lives).

In retrospect, it is important to remember this key point: In June 2003, when no one had heard of the Jensens, the State of Utah told the judge that Parker Jensen was deathly ill and would soon die unless he got immediate treatment. Since his parents were resisting that treatment, the State asked to be allowed to take him from his family and force him to have chemotherapy. The judge agreed, and signed the order.

The Jensens refused, fled the state, and told the media. Suddenly, everyone knew who Parker Jensen was, and the actions of the Division of Child and Family Services were open to a skeptical public. In the face of negative publicity, the DCFS blinked, backed down, and disavowed any intent to a take Parker from his family and "traumatize" him. Which begs the questions: Wouldn't it have been just as "traumatic" to take Parker away from his family in June? And why didn't the DCFS recognize this trauma until after the case was publicized?

I'll be open about it: I sympathize with the Jensens. I'm a homeschooler, and there's a long history of DCFS abuse of homeschoolers in Utah. I will also add that as a scientist, I think the Jensens are being quite foolish in turning exclusively to "alternative" medicine. While they are prudent to continue to monitor Parker for tumors, they should not reject chemotherapy as an option if it is necessary, even though it has severe side effects.

What is most disgusting about the Jensen affair is that the State had no problem using its considerable power to crush the family when no one was looking, but then they suddenly became quite gentle and cooperative when the reporters showed up. Such behavior is more consistent with a totalitarian dictatorship than an elected government, and suggests that they had something to hide. If the DCFS knows for sure that Parker is likely to die, as they told the judge in June, aren't they the ones who are "risking" Parker's life? Doesn't the State bear some responsibility? After all, they are the ones who started this whole fiasco. If they are right, shouldn't they have the courage to stick to their guns and ignore public opinion?

In conclusion, I hope that Parker does stay cancer-free. I hope that he never needs to go through the trauma of chemotherapy. I hope his doctors can work with his parents, and I hope his parents keep an open mind about treatment. But most of all, I hope the DCFS and the State of Utah have learned a valuable lesson. Their job is to protect children and families, not rip them apart.

Posted by Captain Holly at October 24, 2003 08:28 PM | TrackBack
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