An appeals court in Ohio has sided with doctors at Akron Children’s Hospital to force chemotherapy treatments on Sarah Hershberger, a 10-year old Amish girl despite desperate attempts to halt the treatments by her parents.
The ruling overturns a previous judge’s decree that “keeping the parents from making medical decisions for their daughter would take away their rights.”
“While we respect the wishes of the parents and believe them to be honest and sincere, we are unwilling to adhere to the wishes of the parents,” wrote the appeals judges.
Sarah suffers from an aggressive form of a rare type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma known as lymphoblastic lymphoma resulting from abnormal adaptive T-(immune) cells, or B-cells. It is most commonly found in children and teenagers, although some adults under the age of 35 have been diagnosed as well.
Although doctors feel that Sarah’s care is treatable, reports state that she begged her parents to stop the chemotherapy during a second round of treatments in June. After a lot of praying, the Hershbergers agreed and have been treating her with natural medicines such as vitamins and herbs instead.
However, doctors at Akron’s Children’s Hospital contend that she will die without the chemo, a fact backed up by a county probate court investigator who found that Sarah’s cancer is not in remission.
While state laws grant parents a great amount of leeway when it comes to opting for their children’s medical care, the court has determined that “adults can refuse medical treatment for themselves, children do not have those same rights because of their vulnerability and inability to make critical decisions in a mature manner.”
As a result the appeals judges have granted limited guardianship to make decisions regarding healthcare for Sarah to an attorney Maria Schimer, who is also a registered nurse.