Court Orders Amish Girl to Resume Chemotherapy Against Parents' Wishes

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An appellate court is expected to give an attorney for an Ohio children's hospital custody of a 10-year-old Amish girl so she can resume chemotherapy.

This comes after her parents chose to stop the treatments.

Doctors at the Akron Children's Hospital believe Sarah Hershberger has an 85 percent chance of survival if she receives chemotherapy for leukemia.

Without it, they believe she will die within a year.

An appeals court overturned a judge's earlier decision that said preventing parents from making medical decisions for their daughter takes away their rights.

The court ruled that the hospital's attorney, a registered nurse, should be granted limited guardianship and the power to make medical decisions for the girl.

"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," the court wrote.

The ruling said that while adults can indeed refuse medical treatment regardless of the potential consequences, children do not have those same rights.

Their vulnerability and inability to make critical decisions in a mature manner is lacking, according to the judges for the appeals court in their ruling.

Sarah had tumors on her neck, chest and kidneys when her parents initially agreed to chemotherapy at Akron Children's Hospital earlier this year.

Her family says the side effects were terrible and decided not to continue chemo, opting to treat the child's leukemia with natural remedies instead.

"We've seen how sick it makes her," Andy Hershberger, the girl's father, said. "Our belief is the natural stuff will do just as much as that stuff if it's God's will."

"If we do chemotherapy and she would happen to die, she would probably suffer more than if we would do it this way and she would happen to die."

The legal wrangling over Sarah's health began in July when the hospital took the Amish family to court seeking temporary guardianship of the girl.

A judge in Medina County, Ohio, ruled that Sarah's parents had the right to make medical decisions for her because there's no evidence they are unfit.

However, the appeals court disagreed, and its decision to side with the hospital could set a legal precedent for how parents decide their children's care.

What do you think: Should the court have sided with the hospital?

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