For most of us, the moment one of our children fell sick, we would want to do whatever was medically possible to help them get better. Anything else is impossible to even entertain. So you can imagine the horror hospital officials felt when one Amish family in Ohio decided to stop chemotherapy treatments on their daughter to focus on “natural” care. Thankfully, an appeals court has stepped in and sided with the hospital that wants to force their hand in the matter.
Adam and Anna Hershberger‘s daughter Sarah, aged 10, was diagnosed with lymphoblastic lymphoma, a form of leukemia, after checking into the Akron Children’s Hospital to treat tumors on her kidneys, neck and back in May of 2013. This is an aggressive form of non-hodgkin lymphoma that doctors feel will most likely kill her if left untreated.
If treated, she has an 85 percent chance of survival. Sarah had been allowed to go on chemo back in May but her family soon took her off the treatment, citing painful side effects and the fear Sarah supposedly had of becoming infertile. Sarah’s mother also reportedly “prayed for wisdom to discern God’s plan for Sarah.”
Back in July, Akron Children’s Hospital administrators petitioned the courts to give registered nurse and attorney Maria Schimer limited temporary guardianship over Sarah but a judge ruled that the Hershbergers were within their rights to make medical decisions for their daughter. According to Judge John Lohn:
“The court cannot deprive these parents of their right to make medical decisions for their daughter because there is not a scintilla of evidence showing the parents are unfit,” adding that Sarah’s parents are, ”caring, attentive, protective and concerned. Sarah begged her parents to stop the treatments. Anna said she and Andy could not stand to watch what was happening to their daughter.”
Yes, because a 10-year-old girl who is dying of cancer and wants to stop the only thing keeping her from dying is totally rational and able to make such a decision. Oh wait, the opposite is true. According to Schimer:
“The plan presented by Sarah’s parents is almost certain to lead to Sarah’s death. Every day that goes by without treatment, Sarah’s chance of surviving her cancer is diminished.”
I’m all for giving a kid a choice in their lives, but the only choice here is life or death, whether she understands that or not, and she’s choosing death. It’s up to her parents to make sure she is cared for and lives long enough to make these decisions on her own.