Am I guilty of spousal neglect?

Am I guilty of spousal neglect?
Last August my wife informed me that she has breast cancer. She has not been diagnosed by a doctor, but let’s assume she is correct. Her condition has been worsening. She is a Christian Scientist. I have asked her to seek medical help. She has refused. Instead she has been using a Christian Science practitioner and is seeing a Christian Science visiting nurse. In Sept she had notarized an advanced health care directive that states that she wants only Christian Science care and that if she becomes unable to make health decisions for herself, I am to make them for her “with the advice of her practitioner.” By the time it gets that far, it is almost certain a doctor will be unable to help her beyond putting her in a hospice. I see no way to force her to see a doctor short of physically restraining her, I am not willing to do that. We have been married 39 years and I cannot bring myself to do anything but support her as best I can. We have no children and her family beyond me are also Christian Scientists who support her wishes. If she dies, can I be held criminally negligent in any way for not forcing her to see a doctor? If so, how do I force her? What are my legal responsibilities?

3 thoughts on “Am I guilty of spousal neglect?

  1. Re: Am I guilty of spousal neglect?
    They kill their children, too.

    You could apply to be her conservator, you would be up against your wife, and probably the sect’s lawyers as well, but there would be a record that you tried.

    Short of a cumbersome and expensive attempt at a conservatorship, all I can recommend is that you make as much of a written record as you can, any way you can.

    I’ll testify that you tried LawGuru.

    Michael Stone
    Law Offices of Michael B. Stone Toll Free 1-855-USE-MIKE
    3020 Old Ranch Parkway, Suite 300
    Seal Beach, CA 90740

  2. Re: Am I guilty of spousal neglect?
    Unfortunately, she is legally able to commit medical suicide by claiming that religious belief. No, you won’t be held criminally or civilly liable as long as it is documented the way you say, and as long as your objection is made clear, but I don’t doubt that the moral issues will cause you grief. You have my sympathy, but that’s about all I can do. The courts likely will honor her request [foolish and wrong and un-Biblical as we may think it is], and likely would not give you or doctors any authority to change her instructions, even if you got a conservatorship over her. This is a ‘delicate’ area of law. The courts even have difficulty when a CS parent won’t allow medical treatment of children, but have been known to remove custody to prevent ‘child abuse’. If you, family, friends and children can’t convince her to change her mind, there is nothing else any of you can do.

    Terry A. Nelson
    Nelson & Lawless
    18685 Main St., #175
    Huntington Beach, CA 92648

  3. Re: Am I guilty of spousal neglect?
    I tend to agree with both answers given you by my esteemed colleagues. It is sad and unfortunate, and after 39 years a dirty shame. I know this has to be especially difficult for you as her loving husband.

    If you would like to attempt to obtain a conservatorship my office handles them and would be willing to discuss it with you.

    I truly am sorry you are going through this.

    Joshua Hale
    Hale Law Group
    4630 Border Village Rd. N171
    San Ysidro, CA 92173

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