International Coalition for Medical Justice

9 Feb. 2000

A press conference will be held on Wednesday, 9 February 2000, at the Crowne Plaza Metro Centre to discuss the court's ruling in the highly publicized and controversial case of an HIV+ woman who refused to consent to toxic anti-retroviral therapy for her minor children. The children were subsequently taken from her care and forced to undergo mandatory treatment. ICMJ attorney Robert Beard (present in the courtroom) and Executive Director Deane Collie will discuss the judicial decision and will reconstruct trial data from the proceedings. The mother "Jane Doe", whose written statement will be available, will be present, but her identity will be concealed to comply with confidentiality requirements.

Advocates of the further inquiry into the causes of AIDS won a major victory last month when a judge ruled that a Quebec woman's decision to refuse combination cocktail treatment for her two HIV-positive children did not make her an unfit mother. Furthermore, the judge ruled that dissenting medical thought concerning the treatment of HIV-positive persons was appropriate for decision-making by parents and consideration by the court.

The judge declined, however, to return the children to the care of the mother, citing her decision to treat her children with homeopathic and natural remedies as opposed to treatment with strictly Western medicine. This may have far reaching implications for a growing number of Canadians who choose alternative medicine and healthy lifestyle options for themselves and their families.

While the mother was allowed to retain legal custody, the two children were placed in the care of their maternal grandparents, while authority for medical decision-making for the children was confided in the office of youth protection services in Quebec. The court ordered that this arrangement be reviewed after six months.

Under this office's watch, the children have been subjected to anti-retroviral and other therapies which include Retrovir (AZT), Norvir, 3TC, Crixivan and Septra. All of these drugs have been shown to have high levels of toxicity in many categories, and many are dosed according to adult guidelines because no data has been established for their use and efficacy in children.

The older child (Child A) has since been hospitalized with kidney problems that are not indicative of opportunistic infections commonly associated with AIDS, but can instead be directly attributed to the toxic effects of this therapy. The younger child (Child B) has exhibited signs of lethargy, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and malaise that can also be attributed to this therapy.

The older child has since been released from the hospital. ICMJ has been informed that the treating doctors have identified the kidney dysfunction as a "viral" pyelonephritis, although it has been clearly established that pyelonephritis is an anticipated adverse reaction to the medications being given the children.

The mother and her lawyers have made repeated unsuccessful attempts to secure medical records for Child A since the hospitalization. It is our understanding that neither the lawyer for the children nor the social workers from youth protection (who make medical decisions for the children) have had medical records made available to them. If necessary, the mother's lawyers are ready to seek a court order for the release of the medical records.

"It is morally wrong for 'Doctor X' and his associates to hold these medical records hostage. It is excessively punitive for the mother, and for all who hold a sincere interest in the health of these children," says Deane Collie, executive director of ICMJ.

"It is imperative that this therapy be discontinued before further damage can be done to these children. It is incredible that trained medical professionals would risk possible civil action for the sake of continuing a method of treatment that they concede cannot cure either HIV or AIDS," says Robert Beard, general counsel for ICMJ.

"Because their efforts are focused entirely on the battle with the HIV virus, well-meaning physicians are unable to perceive that they are diminishing, and not improving, the quality of life of these children. The medical community says that these children must die, and that this toxic medication is only their 'best hope' to hold the disease at bay. How tragic that the medical community and the government have decided that these children need pills more than they need their mother," Collie says.

For more info see the ICMJ website.