In re Hudson, 28667.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Washington
Writing for the CourtMILLARD, Justice.
Citation13 Wn.2d 673,126 P.2d 765
Docket Number28667.
Decision Date08 June 1942
PartiesIn re HUDSON.

126 P.2d 765

13 Wn.2d 673

In re HUDSON.

No. 28667.

Supreme Court of Washington, En Banc.

June 8, 1942


Original application in the matter of Patricia Hudson for writ of prohibition treated as an appeal from an order directing the amputation of the left arm of Patricia Hudson.

Order reversed.

SIMPSON, J., ROBINSON, C.J., and MAIN, J., dissenting. [126 P.2d 767]

[13 Wn.2d 675] Jane Johnson, of Seattle, for appellant.

Weter, Roberts & Shefelman and S. Harold Shefelman, all of Seattle, for respondent.

MILLARD, Justice.

Patricia Hudson was born August 8, 1930, with a congenital deformity consisting of an abnormal growth of her entire left arm which made that arm much longer and larger than the right arm and rendered it absolutely useless. An adult sister of the child complained January 3, 1942, to the juvenile court for King county that Patricia was receiving inadequate care and that she was in need of medical care which she was not receiving. Hearing was had January 7, [13 Wn.2d 676] 1942, on that complaint but no testimony was taken. The child's mother, who is the natural and [126 P.2d 768] legal guardian of the child, consented to the entry of an order that the child be taken to an orthopedic hospital in Seattle for examination and observation.

January 28, 1942, the chief probation officer of the juvenile court filed a petition in which it was alleged that '* * * according to the recommendations of the attending physicians, the said child is in imperative need of operative treatment and amputation of her left arm; that the parents, Claude E. and Nora Hudson, refuse to provide such treatment and refuse to grant permission for such treatment to be given.'

Two days later at hearing on that petition the minor's parents were present and represented by counsel and the child was represented by an attorney whom the court appointed as her guardian ad litem.

One of the physicians on the staff of the orthopedic hospital testified that, about three years prior to the hearing of January 30, 1942, he examined the child and that he again examined her January 27, 1942. His testimony and the testimony of another physician on the staff of the same hospital were to the effect that the child appears to be frail and is suffering from the effects of 'this enormously heavy, useless extremity,' which, for the sake of her general health, should be removed. The two physicians were of the opinion that the child will remain in a rather weakened condition and that she will be an easy prey for infection by reason of her affliction; that her heart is burdened by reason of having to pump blood through the large left arm; that her chest and spine are becoming deformed from carrying the enormous weight; that there is not method, other than amputation of the left arm, of treating the condition; and that under present [13 Wn.2d 677] circumstances it will be impossible for the child to take her place in society and live a normal life. While they testified that there is a fair degree of risk of life involved in the operation, both physicians recommended removal of the arm, having in mind the child's welfare.

Summarized, the testimony of Patricia's seven brothers and sisters--all are adults except the youngest, who is fifteen years old--is that the deformity was a handicap to their sister in her association with other people; that Patricia had many times expressed the wish for removal of the left arm and frequently wept because of her affliction.

The child's invalid father, who, inappreciative of his paternal right of guardianship and unmindful of the obligation imposed upon him by virtue of that sacred right, bowed to the will of his wife and testified, in effect, that while he would not of his own volition approve amputation of his child's left arm, he would like to shirk his responsibility as a father and leave the entire matter to the judgment of the court.

The child's mother testified that she did not have any religious scruples against amputation of the child's left arm, but that she opposed the operation because she thought there was 'too much of a chance on her life.' In reply to the interrogation whether she would ever consent to amputation of the arm and, if so, under what circumstances, the mother testified: 'Well, if as the child grows older, and if she is not happy about it, and if it is her own wish to do it, I would then consent to it, because then I would feel that she had done it herself, and not me. This way I think it is too much of a thing to decide for her. And another thing, as the doctor stated, there is quire a chance on her life and I feel this way, that if I do consent to it, and her life is taken, I feel that I will be responsible.'

[13 Wn.2d 678] It can not be gainsaid that the mother loves her child devotedly. Deterred by apprehension that her child may not survive the operation, the mother refuses to consent to amputation of the child's left arm. Doubtless aware of the right, the mother is not heedful of the obligation inherent in the natural and sacred right of a parent to the custody of his or her child. She seeks to shift responsibility of decision to the child at some future time, a present responsibility of the mother, a sacred duty which the mother shirks.

The superior court judge, sitting as juvenile court judge, expressed the opinion that, in the light of the liberal construction provision in Rem.Rev.Stat. § 1987-14, the definitions of 'dependency' in Rem.Rev.Stat.§ 1987-1 are broad enough to include therein a child who is not receiving proper medical or surgical attention; that the word 'destitute,' as used in the statute, embraces a situation where a child is in fact destitute of proper medical or surgical care; and that the word is not restricted in its connotation to lack of finances, food, clothing or shelter inasmuch as proper medical care is as necessary to the life of a child as food, clothing and housing. [126 P.2d 769]

The court expressed the further view that, under subsection (7), Rem.Rev.Stat. § 1987-1, when a child is in need of necessary medical or surgical attention and is denied same by the child's parent, the home in which such child lives is by reason of that neglect an unfit place for the child.

The court held that, under subsection (13), Rem.Rev.Stat. § 1987-1, a child lacking necessary medical or surgical attention 'is not properly provided for and is in fact 'destitute' of a suitable home.' The court stated that it must be clearly understood that its findings do not impute to either parent any bad faith, moral turpitude, willful neglect, or in fact any [13 Wn.2d 679] neglect, except the failure and refusal to provide adequate medical and surgical care; that both parents appeared to be of excellent character, honest and sincere and deeply concerned with respect to the child's welfare; however, failure to provide, or permit to be provided, medical or surgical attention is a form of neglect which brings the child within the statutory definitions of dependency. After finding Patricia Hudson was a 'dependent child,' the court made an order (although 'loath to abridge the right of a parent') directing amputation of the child's left arm, and insisted, because of the gravity of its decision, upon a review of the proceedings. The legal aid bureau of the Seattle Bar Association, representing the mother, who will be designated appellant, and the child's guardian ad litem, representing the court, which will be termed respondent, brought the matter to this court.

Appellant argues that there is neither constitutional nor inherent right in respondent court to subject her minor child, over her objection, to a surgical operation; and that the evidence does not preponderantly support the findings that the child is a dependent child and that amputation of her left arm is imperative for the child's health and welfare.

Respondent contends: (1) The evidence amply sustains the finding that amputation of the child's left arm is necessary for her health and welfare. (2) Under the statute, Rem.Rev.Stat. § 1987-1 et seq. the child is a 'dependent child' as appellant neglects or refuses to provide necessary medical and surgical care for her. (3) By Rem.Rev.Stat. § 1987-1 et seq., the legislature established juvenile courts and conferred upon those courts such jurisdiction as may be necessary for the protection of neglected or dependent minors. (4) Judges of juvenile courts are superior court [13 Wn.2d 680] judges and one sitting as a chancellor would have jurisdiction to order amputation, which in judgment of the chancellor was for the welfare of the child and for the good of society, as the court in the exercise of chancery power stands in the relation of loco parentis to infants. (5) The presence or absence of statutory regulations as to the custody and care of infants can not affect the jurisdiction of a court of equity over the persons, as well as the property, of infants.

The Juvenile Court Law, Rem.Rev.Stat. § 1987-1 et seq., defines a dependent child as any child under the age of eighteen years who is destitute; or whose home by reason of neglect of either of its parents, or for any other reason, is an unfit place for such child; or whose parent does not properly provide for such child, and it appears that such child is destitute of a suitable home; or where such child is without proper means of support. All dependent children are wards of the state and their persons are subject to the custody, care and control of the court.

When the court finds that a child is 'dependent' within the statutory definition, Rem.Rev. Stat. § 1987-8, of dependency, it may commit the child to some suitable institution, or to the care of some reputable citizen, or to the care of some association obligated to find a home for the 'dependent' or 'neglected' child, which association, with the assent of the court, is authorized to place the child in a family home,...

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81 practice notes
  • In re Custody of Shields, No. 75263-0.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • June 8, 2006
    ...has been pleaded, id. at 131-36, 84 P.3d 905 (citing Nunn, 103 Wash.App. 871, 14 P.3d 175; In re Welfare of Hudson, 13 Wash.2d 673, 126 P.2d 765 ¶ 28 Harwood petitioned this court for review, which was granted, pending the decision in In re Parentage of C.A.M.A., 154 Wash.2d 52, 109 P.3d 40......
  • State Dep't of Soc. & Health Servs. v. Luak (In re Dependency of MSR), No. 85729–6.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • March 1, 2012
    ...court has been zealous in its protection of familial relationships. Id. at 137, 524 P.2d 906 (citing In re Hudson, 13 Wash.2d 673, 678, 126 P.2d 765 (1942)). ¶ 19 Children are dependent upon others to provide for their basic needs. The importance of family and familiar relationships to a na......
  • IN RE THE WELFARE OF M.I.S. v. A.S., NO. 41000-8-I
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • May 24, 1999
    ...that the State has a "constitutionally protected parens patriae interest in protecting the best interests of the child"); In re Hudson, 13 Wn.2d 673, 698, 126 P.2d 765 (1942) (noting that a court of equity, independent of statutory authority, may remove neglected children from the custody a......
  • State v. Rivers, No. 63412-2
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • October 24, 1996
    ...of action and private property are closely related to doctrines of natural law and inalienable rights); In re Hudson, 13 Wash.2d 673, 692, 126 P.2d 765 (1942) (principle of natural law that father knows far better as a rule what is good for his children than a court of justice and (at page ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
81 cases
  • In re Custody of Shields, No. 75263-0.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • June 8, 2006
    ...has been pleaded, id. at 131-36, 84 P.3d 905 (citing Nunn, 103 Wash.App. 871, 14 P.3d 175; In re Welfare of Hudson, 13 Wash.2d 673, 126 P.2d 765 ¶ 28 Harwood petitioned this court for review, which was granted, pending the decision in In re Parentage of C.A.M.A., 154 Wash.2d 52, 109 P.3d 40......
  • State Dep't of Soc. & Health Servs. v. Luak (In re Dependency of MSR), No. 85729–6.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • March 1, 2012
    ...court has been zealous in its protection of familial relationships. Id. at 137, 524 P.2d 906 (citing In re Hudson, 13 Wash.2d 673, 678, 126 P.2d 765 (1942)). ¶ 19 Children are dependent upon others to provide for their basic needs. The importance of family and familiar relationships to a na......
  • IN RE THE WELFARE OF M.I.S. v. A.S., NO. 41000-8-I
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • May 24, 1999
    ...that the State has a "constitutionally protected parens patriae interest in protecting the best interests of the child"); In re Hudson, 13 Wn.2d 673, 698, 126 P.2d 765 (1942) (noting that a court of equity, independent of statutory authority, may remove neglected children from the custody a......
  • State v. Rivers, No. 63412-2
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • October 24, 1996
    ...of action and private property are closely related to doctrines of natural law and inalienable rights); In re Hudson, 13 Wash.2d 673, 692, 126 P.2d 765 (1942) (principle of natural law that father knows far better as a rule what is good for his children than a court of justice and (at page ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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