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Court says Akron Children’s Hospital can force chemotherapy on Amish girl

By John Seewer
Beacon Journal staff and wire report

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An Ohio appeals court is again siding with a hospital that is seeking to force a 10-year-old Amish girl to resume chemotherapy after her parents decided to stop the treatments.

The court ordered that a registered nurse take over limited guardianship for the girl and decide whether she should continue treatments for leukemia.

The appeals court ruling issued last week says the wishes and beliefs of the parents can’t outweigh the rights of the state to protect the child. The decision says the guardian should be appointed right away.

The girl’s parents, who live in Medina County, stopped chemotherapy because they say the effects were terrible. They say they opted for “natural” medicines.

Doctors at Akron Children’s Hospital say the girl will die without chemotherapy.

Andy Hershberger, the patient Sarah’s father, has 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.

A Medina County common pleas court judge ruled in July that Sarah’s parents had the right to make medical decisions for her, but the appeals court said he failed to consider whether appointing a guardian would be in the girl’s best interest and ordered him to reconsider his decision.

Sarah’s father has said his daughter begged them 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.

They want to treat Sarah with natural medicines, such as herbs and vitamins.

The hospital has said the girl’s illness — lymphoblastic lymphoma — is an aggressive form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.


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