The Right To Survive

by annelaurenceb on January 27, 2015 - 7:10am

On Monday January 19th 2015, the young 11 years old First Nations’ Makayla Sault died of cancer in her house. As written by Gloria Galloway in the Globe and Mail on January 19th 2015, this little girl had cancer but she was taken away from chemotherapy by her parents last year. The motives of her parents for that decision were that they are aboriginal people and they thought it was better for her healing to receive traditional treatments instead. The employees of the McMaster Children Hospital in Hamilton brought this case to court as they said it was necessary for this girl to receive the treatments in order to survive and they felt like they needed to protect and try to save this child. The final decision submitted by the judge was that he refused to overpass the traditional beliefs of the family and said that the Constitution was protecting Makayla and her mother’s decision to treat her with aboriginal treatments. The outcome of this non-treatment brought the little girl to finally pass away because of her cancer, which was curable according to the doctors with the right treatment.

I personally believe that this situation should not have happened and that this should not be allowed by the Courts of Justice, since even though I totally respect the aboriginal traditions, I believe that nothing should bypass one’s security and possibility to live. By allowing this child not to receive chemotherapy, a treatment which would surely have saved her life according to the specialists, it is similar to me as accepting the inevitable death of this girl. There are many things that could have been done to change the outcome of this situation, and that could also be done in the future. For example, the simple action of instituting a legislation which would say that in no circumstances and according to no religion or particular beliefs this kind of choice should be possible if it is threatening the survival of an individual.

Here is a link to the source I used to write this post: I believe that this is a reliable source since the Globe and Mail is the second biggest daily newspaper after the Toronto Star and its weekly circulation was of almost 2 million people in 2011, and I believe that since the number of readers is so big, it brings certain notoriety to this 


I believe that a person has the right to have access to the best possible treatment, regardless of their ethnic background. In this situation, the girl's parents were biased by only wanting to treat her with aboriginal remedies without taking into consideration the doctors' strong beliefs that the chemotherapy would work. I don't distrust the effectiveness of certain aboriginal remedies, but I do believe that the situation could have ended differently had the parents chosen the chemotherapy.
In relation to this topic, there are certain aboriginal remedies that have proven to cure medical conditions that cannot be cured in hospitals or medical centres, as shown in the following link:

I think that you make a good point that we should do whatever it takes to cure the ones we love. I do believe that everyone should have access to healthcare (in order for there to be sustainable development) but I believe that if they do not want to use it, they are not obligated to. It would be the patient's responsibility if they do not accept the healthcare. I think that everyone should be able to do what they believe is best for themselves according to their culture and not what the law is telling them. I see what you are saying about how we should always try and encourage people to use healthcare since it is easily accessible. Advances in technology have led to sustainable development and even though I will always take advantage of it, in different cultures have their own ways, and what they believe is the right way. Doctors should tell the patient what is the best option for treatment, but it should be up to the patient whether or not to take it.

Your article brings up a really interesting topic especially since I honestly wouldn’t know how to react to a situation like this. I believe that when it comes to a life threatening decision, doctors know best, but some people don’t believe in doctors but only in tradition aboriginal medicine. I find your news summary to be reliable because of your source. First off, Global and Mail is the second biggest daily newspaper in Toronto, and second of all, the author seems to be trustworthy. According to the Global and Mail website, the author Gloria Galloway has been a journalist for about 30 years. She’s worked with many different news publications before being hired, in 2001, to work as deputy national editor for Global and Mail. She has many years of experience and she works for Canada’s largest-circulation newspaper (Global and Mail). With all this being said, a reason to why I trust your news summary is because of your source; it makes it more believable.
Here are some of her other works with Global and Mail.

Very interesting dilemma! I also wrote about the very same topic. An american teenager who also refused her chemo treatment. However, the outcome of the debate ended up differently : Even if chemotherapy is considered as the best treatment available to cure cancer according to doctors, people receiving it must often undergo harsh secondary effects. I understand that accepting her refusal of taking the treatment also means that it is, in some way, accepting her death. But it is important not to neglect that some patients care more about the quality of their life and not just about the quantity. I therefore think that the decision ultimately remains at the family's discretion. However, you did a really good job at summarizing the issue in detail while looking at every side of the argument and you stated your opinion with honorable arguments that make total sense. So even if we disagree on the outcome, I don't think that either of us is right or wrong because we both took a different side of the dilemma : the right to decide of your own fate and your duty to do whatever possible to save another life.

After thoroughly reading your post, I can clearly see some ethical dilemmas being raised. Although Makayla could have received treatment for her cancer and ultimately have survived, she ended up dying at home while receiving traditional treatments instead. An ethical question that could be asked here is: “Is the ultimate survival of an individual more important than their traditional beliefs?” Makayla ultimately chose to follow her tradition instead of continuing with chemotherapy, which had way better chances of keeping her alive…Some may say this is moral, and others may disagree. This was a very intriguing post to read because it somewhat relates to my latest post about allowing young children the right to die, which is the reverse of yours, but still ties-in with the whole “to live or not to live” dilemma. Check it out if you’re ever interested: Overall, great post! :)

In a way it is extremely sad for this little girl to have passed away but the choice always comes back to the parents of this child. Obviously in our modern day, aboriginal cures to cancer might not be the answer but like I said the choice goes to the parents. They believe that their treatment will help, it is up to them to take the risk to take her out of chemotherapy and put into their hands.

In a way it is extremely sad for this little girl to have passed away but the choice always comes back to the parents of this child. Obviously in our modern day, aboriginal cures to cancer might not be the answer but like I said the choice goes to the parents. They believe that their treatment will help, it is up to them to take the risk to take her out of chemotherapy and put into their hands.

After reading your article, I feel really sorry for the girl. She was just a child. There are still a lot in life that she did not have a chance to experience. You do have a point that one’s security should be the priority in this case. However, it is always complicated when folkways are involved in a situation. Like William Graham Sumner contends in “A Defense of Cultural Relativism” that we cannot criticize the mores of other cultures because each culture has its own history background, maxims, beliefs and perspective; therefore, “the standards of good and right are in the mores” (Sumner 220-223). Which means that it is impossible for us to say if the parents were doing the right thing or not. On the other hand, in a democratic western perspective, which corresponds to your point of view, the protection of human rights is imperative compare to the traditions. Here is why this dilemma is difficult to solve: cultural differences make the standard of goodness and badness differs from one society to another. What you think is right may not apply to the moral system of other culture. In my opinion, the doctors did their best to help the girl, but there is still a line between the two cultures that cannot be crossed. We should not offend their traditions. We should not impose our values on theirs either.

Work Cited: Sumner, William Graham. "A Defense of Cultural Relativism." Folkways. New York: New American Library, 1940. Print.