Judge blocks bid to force Amish girl to have chemo

Akron Children's Hospital wants registered nurse to take over limited guardianship of 10-year-old Amish girl with leukemia.
Associated Press
Sep 4, 2013

A judge has again blocked an Ohio hospital from forcing a 10-year-old Amish girl to resume chemotherapy after her parents decided to stop the treatments.

The order siding with the parents comes just a week after an appeals court sent the case back to the judge and told him to give more consideration to the request by Akron Children's Hospital.

The hospital wants a registered nurse to take over limited guardianship of Sarah Hershberger and decide whether she should continue treatments for leukemia. The hospital believes Sarah's leukemia is treatable and says she will die without chemotherapy.

Andy Hershberger, the girl's father, said the family agreed to begin two years of treatments for Sarah last spring but stopped a second round of chemotherapy in June because it was making her extremely sick.

Judge John Lohn, in Medina County, said in his ruling Tuesday that not allowing the parents to make medical decisions for their daughter would take away their rights. He also said there is no guarantee that chemotherapy would be successful.

"They are good parents," he said. "They understand completely the grave situation their daughter is in and the consequences of their choice to refuse chemotherapy for Sarah at this time."

Lohn said also that allowing for a guardian would go against the girl's wishes.

The hospital did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.

The judge ruled in July that Sarah's parents had the right to make medical decisions for her, but the appeals court said Lohn failed to consider whether appointing a guardian would be in the girl's best interest and ordered him to re-consider the decision.

Sarah's father said she begged her parents to stop the chemotherapy and they agreed after a great deal of prayer. The family, members of an insular Amish community, shuns many facets of modern life. They live on a farm and operate a produce stand near the village of Spencer in Medina County, about 35 miles southwest of Cleveland.

They opted to consult with a wellness center and treat Sarah with natural medicines, such as herbs and vitamins, and see another doctor who is monitoring their daughter, Hershberger said.

Hershberger said they have not ruled out returning to Akron Children's Hospital if Sarah's health worsens. The hospital has said the girl's illness — lymphoblastic lymphoma — is an aggressive form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

 

Comments

Informed

Actually, child protection laws and agencies were put into place because of the horrible abuse so many children were experiencing. In fact, the very first cases had to be tried under animal cruelty laws because there were no laws to protect children. People looked the other way, there was no mandated reporting, and children suffered in silence. Are you actually advocating for no one in authority to protect abused and neglected children?
Are you blaming psychologists and sociologists for child abuse, something that has been in existence throughout history?
Regardless of any sociological bent you may have, this girl will die without treatment, and will most likely live with treatment. Her parents are letting her die.

Informed

The difference between those examples you give (swimming pools and little league) is that the risk of dying is small. This girl will die without treatment.
I do not think a child has to pay her life for us to live in a free society.

Nemesis

When contemplating matters of public policy, risk is measured differently.
One has to consider the overall risk nationally, not the risk to one isolated individual. The metric of concern is how many deaths does a public policy prevent. In those terms, swimming pools, bicycles, cars that exceed 5mph, hot dogs, trampolines, and most active outdoor sports are a FAR greater threat to children's lives.

In fact, by crusading for this ONE child when you could be devoting your energy to advocating for the banning of bicycles or pools, assuming you believe your advocacy is effective, you're choosing to sacrifice hundreds of nameless, faceless kids to save this one about whom you've read.

Every year, thousands of kids pay with their lives for the freedom we have in this country. With UK style gun control, at least a hundred of the children shot each year could be spared. Our justice system, with its presumption of innocence, due process, and other protections for the rights of the accused, allows a lot of people to go free who go on to kill kids. Hundreds of kids are killed by gang activity which many private venues exclude from their premises through policies that, if the government enacted them, would violate the 1st Amendment guarantee of free speech, to say nothing of all the kids killed by people inspired by espressions in the media. Some of the lowest crime rates in the world are in countries governed by Sharia law. Yes, freedom has tradeoffs.

Here's the crux of the issue - you aren't advocating a Huxleyan situation where the state makes ALL decisions for ALL children, and you're not (at least yet) endorsing the removal of kids for parents teaching them politically incorrect beliefs, so you clearly believe parents have SOME right to make decisions for their children and raise them according to their beliefs without state interference. Thus your position boils down to proposition that there's a level of risk of death that renders our rights null and void. I could go on all day with the negative consequences of that proposition.

Truth or Dare

The point here is rather than continue w/chemo, the parents and their child made the decision to stop, otherwise choosing an alternative form of healing. They call it Integrated Medicine Evidently A.C.H. doesn't think much of the choice, nor is it their right to push the matter. My guess would be this child has already been through enough w/the chemo treatments. She doesn't need her parents, nor herself, the patient, being second guessed by anyone. Personally, I would say the nurse they want to appoint as the Guardian, maybe, just maybe she's overstepped proper boundaries?

Informed

She's had two treatments. I don't know how anyone could say she's been through enough when it will probably save her life. I guess by dying she won't be going through anything.

Vitamins and herbs do not cure A.L.L. They can call it whatever they want, it won't save this girl's life.

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