• Wed, Aug 28 - 5:23 pm ET

Amish Family To Use ‘Natural Medicine’ Over Chemo For Dying Daughter, Appeals Court Says Hell No

amish countryFor 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.

(Photo: canno1979)

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  • koolchicken

    I think it’s wrong to force treatment on someone who clearly doesn’t want it. If the parents have been investigated and found to be competent (and not abusive) and the child understands her decision the courts need to stay out of it. Perhaps her pain is so great the thought of survival doesn’t matter. It also may not work, 85% isn’t 100% and nothing is certain- they’re guessing 85%. The poor kid should be allowed to pass if that’s what she really wants. Ten in Amish country is more mature than in our world, she deserves a say in her own life AND death.

    • Mystik Spiral

      Wow. 10-year-olds, whether Amish or not, are not equipped to make that kind of decision.

    • Annie

      Ten in Amish Country is more physically and spiritually active, but not mature. I don’t live in tourist Amish Country, they’re just regular folk here who wouldn’t appreciate people taking pictures of them or watching them work as though they were trained monkeys. Their children are individuals just like yours, and maturity varies from individual to individual.

      It’s also worth noting that if a kid can’t even legally consent to sex, they can’t make such important life decisions.

  • Mystik Spiral

    The entire situation is disturbing, but this takes the cake:

    “her family soon took her off the treatment, citing painful side effects and the fear Sarah supposedly had of becoming infertile.”

    Because of course, if the wimmins can’t breed, what good are they?

    Ugh.

    • chickadee

      And the question of fertility is, of course, moot IF YOU’RE DEAD FROM CANCER.

    • JLH1986

      The logic? You haz it.

    • chickadee

      ‘She died with her fertility intact’ is a pretty depressing epitaph.

    • JLH1986

      I try to be understanding of different cultures and to understand them better as well as educate myself on something that isn’t “the norm”. But this? I know chemo is hard (been a caregiver when someone was going through treatment) but the fact that her fertility even entered the discussion is mind blowing to me.

    • chickadee

      Exactly. I have friends who grew up in the Amish community, and while they did say that they rarely relied on doctors for illness, I can’t imagine that cancer falls into the same category. ALL is fatal. Objections to the chemo that include worries that the girl didn’t want to play outside and that she wouldn’t be able to have babies should NOT be the determining factors regarding treatment. Is it going to be God’s will if Sarah dies during her herbal regimen?

    • JLH1986

      Probably. I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t do everything I knew to do to save my child. I know they said they’d go back to the dr if the herbal remedies didn’t work. But cancer doesn’t just hang out in a holding pattern while we get our ducks in a row. What if it’s too late? This just breaks my heart.

    • chickadee

      I can almost guarantee that it will be too late. Leukemia is more easily sent into remission/cured when treatment begins as soon as possible and isn’t interrupted. I used to follow a couple of blogs written by mothers of children going through ALL and AML (which is more difficult to treat than ALL) and the children had a really rough time during the treatment because it’s poison and it sucks. But both children were declared cancer-free after three years (they went through low-dose maintenance treatments once they were declared in remission) and I’m pretty sure that the parents valued their children’s lives and futures enough to put them through all that misery. And these two children were 18 months old and 2.5 years old, so that’s kind of worse in my opinion.

    • Andy

      I have to say, it’s a little disturbing to me that a 10 year old girl was even thinking of future fertility. When I was 10 I was thinking about music, swim team and my friends/school, not about my future babies-that didn’t start until my early 20i’s when I met my now husband.

    • http://www.whatwouldshethink.com/ Rachelle

      We have to remember that in the Amish communities, they benefit from very different activities and priorities than we do, even if they seem completely old school and not with the times. Just like modern kids can play with dolls, role play Mommy and Daddy and little girls can happily say that when they grow up they want to be a Mommy, Amish girls are raised to fulfill traditional roles and have different objectives in some cases than modern girls. It’s not something we can necessarily understand or agree with, and it doesn’t mean that all Amish and Mennonite girls are happy with their situation, but in some cases, it is possible for a 10 year old to look forward to what many, including myself, consider one of the apex of being a human being. We shouldn’t judge lifestyles we don’t understand.

  • dmdoss

    The choice of treatment belongs to her parents. Period. While I may not agree with their decision, I still feel it is theirs to make.

    • Mystik Spiral

      Then why even have CPS at all? Why shouldn’t the choice of how to discipline a child be the parents’ decision? What to feed the child? Whether to send the child to school? What age the child should be to appropriately look after themselves?

      There are an awful lot of unfit parents out there; just because these people are polite & religious doesn’t mean they should be able to kill their child when treatment has an 85% chance of working.

    • TngldBlue

      I agree. Denying your child a life saving treatment is causing them immense pain and suffering that will ultimately lead to their death. No 10 year old is equipped to make a decision with such severe ramifications. Most would agree a 10 year old is not mature or wise enough to decide to drop out of school right? Then why on earth would one believe they are old enough to make life or death medical decisions.

    • AugustW

      It’s the same with Jehovah’s and blood transfusions.

    • Viola Roadkill

      It’s not about the parents’ rights, it’s about the child’s rights. Her right to medical treatment & LIFE is more important.

    • meteor_echo

      The kid’s right to live is more important than the parents’ right to make a decision.

    • Amber

      Ah, you’re one of those lovely people who support child abuse. I should give you my parents’ phone number. You can all have a lovely chat about the monstrous things they did to their children and it’s all cool since they only did it to their own children. I’m sure you have some of your own stories to share too, unless you haven’t had any victims–, er, I mean kids of your own yet.

    • dmdoss

      Yep. Beat them with chains and lock them in a dog crate every night. After I bathe them in scalding water and rub lye into the burns.

      You realize that there are people who use natural remedies successfully… and people that refuse to seek medical treatment (Christian Scientists) or transfusions (Jehovah’s Witnesses). My point is that while I do not agree with their beliefs and choices, I stand by their right to make those choices.

    • Momma425

      Waving your magic fingers and drinking herbal tea doesn’t cure cancer. There are some people who have overcome cancer DESPITE only using “natural remedies” but that doesn’t mean the natural remedies worked.
      My great grandma died when she went into disbetic shock because she was a Christian Scientist and refused to see a doctor or take any medication. She had people pray for her. Guess what? She died.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      So the women who gives birth in a bathroom during prom is right in her decision that her baby wouldn’t have a good life, so she can drown it?

  • Melissa T

    My mom’s friend treated her pancreatic cancer with natural remedies about 20 years ago, she’s still around today. Natural remedies have saved the lives of many, especially when traditional methods couldn’t help. It’s not as if they refused treatment outright; they tried it, and it harmed their child. They wanted to try something different. They ought to have that right. It’s her body, her choice anyways, and it sounds like she wanted something different. This story scares me. It’s not like they let her waste away and just prayed instead, they were trying alternative therapies.

    • Mystik Spiral

      “It’s not as if they refused treatment outright; they tried it, and it harmed their child.”

      Nothing is more harmful than death.

    • blh

      Not really. Life isn’t worth living if you’re constantly suffering.

    • chickadee

      But the chemo illness isn’t a chronic condition. Should Sarah be in the 15% that does not respond to treatment, then doctors usually agree with parents who choose palliative care rather than aggressive measures. Chemo goes in cycles — there are several months of weekly treatments and then the cycle ends, the child is tested to see if the cancer cells have responded as expected, and the child goes into remission, and possibly additional cycles of chemo if necessary.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      She has an 85% chance at LIFE!

    • CMJ

      Unfortunately, chemotherapy and other cancer treatments are not easy on the body…but the other alternative? Death.

      Also, it didn’t “harm” her…the parents were worried about her fertility (she’s 10!) and the 10 year old didn’t like it….I didn’t like a lot of things when I was ten and you know what? My parents still made me do them.

    • Melissa T

      From what I read, it sounded like she had some serious complications. I can understand watching horrific things happening to one’s child and believing you might have a better way to go about it. That doesn’t make them evil parents. If the treatment really is the only way to save her, and the complications are the cost, maybe they didn’t understand that. It must be so hard, because that community can be very wary of advancement and government. But it sounded to me like they were still trying to treat it and save her, not just leaving it up to their religion. At least I hope that’s the case. I can’t imagine it being otherwise.

    • Dr. Apothecary

      Alternative therapies don’t work. Yes, your friend for whatever reason had her situation turn out okay (although I doubt you know the whole story… misdiagnosis springs to mind). If these therapies actually worked in clinical studies, they would no longer be alternative, and doctors would treat people with them. Doctors are already open to several supplements that have been shown to likely be beneficial (fish oil, melatonin, etc.). Doctors and other healthcare professionals have family and would not shun a treatment that was proven to work and proven to not have high rates of harm. Giving your kid alternative therapies means giving them worse than a placebo, because there’s a good chance that there’s something in them that can do harm. What harm, who knows, because it’s not been studied. These “treatments,” like homeopathy and specific supplements, have been studied over and over and over again. If they worked, we’d know it by now.

    • AugustW

      Yeah, if it was any other kind of cancer, I could say maybe spontaneous remission? But pancreatic doesn’t just go away.

    • Dr. Apothecary

      So you’re both trying to tell me that there’s this magical cure for pancreatic cancer, a remedy that no one who treats pancreatic cancer or studies it, knows about? And it’s been around for 20 years??

      My mother tried a whole crap ton of herbal supplements and still died of ovarian cancer. Painfully, too. But the woman who sold them to my mother had had her nose cancer magically cured by massage aligning her chakras in Eastern Asia, at least according to her. If you knew nothing about science or healthcare or cancer, you might believe her, too. My mother did. My husband, a scientist, and I, a scientist and a pharmacist, did not.

      If this treatment for pancreatic cancer had worked in someone, there would be a case study and a lot of interest. We have occasionally found natural treatments that actually work, and those are then tested and then dosed properly. Part of the dangers of natural remedies is who knows what the dosing is. This is why digoxin is useful today for heart disease, while digitalis, from foxglove and used by Vincent Van Gogh, was both helpful and usually very toxic.

    • AugustW

      I think you responded to the wrong person.

    • Melissa T

      Nope, I’m not telling you that. I’m telling you she used whatever nutritional and natural options she had available to her instead of chemo/radiation and her cancer went into remission. I’m fairly certain that any interest in her case was passed off as a ‘fluke’. I live in a pretty granola town, but even 20 years or so ago that would have been crazy. Now, no one bats an eye at natural treatments. We even have a college that trains natureopathic doctors. My midwife’s assistant for my second child’s birth was training to be one, in her maternity rotation. There are as many alternative therapy clinics accepted by our insurance within walking distance as there are traditional medical ones. Gotta love Seattle…one of the most educated cities. :)

    • Melissa T

      Nope, she was an original granola hippie, was given an iffy chance to live even with the medical options, and decided to go the natural remedy route. Considering her second opinion, I doubt it was a misdiagnosis. I’m fairly sure it wasn’t homeopathy, though.

    • AugustW

      The purpose of chemo is to kill the cancer before it kills you. It’s rough, but it’s used because it works.

    • Simone

      That’s cool that your mom’s friend made that choice for herself, but it sounds like she was an adult when she made it.

      If we allow parents to refuse medical treatment for a terminal illness to a child, we must also allow them to carry out other activities that are likely if not certain to result in that child’s death, and we don’t allow that in modern Western societies.

    • disqus_RcnfTzAghr

      I don’t think that actually happened.

    • SDA

      But, the chemotherapy will most likely work and this is an aggressive cancer which doesn’t leave much room for playing around. I am all about some natural healing, but if I have cancer, give me the good stuff. I would try natural remedies in conjunction.

    • Melissa T

      To be honest, what I read about this story made it sound like she had BEEN through several rounds of chemo and experienced severe side effects. I’d read about it elsewhere. The story linked above sounds like they didn’t even make it through one, which means that they didn’t give the chemo a chance to work. If that’s true, then I can understand the courts decision and agree with it.

  • CaneCorsoMom

    In Colorado, if it is a “life and death” decision, NO ONE can refuse treatment for a child. It’s up to the medical providers to determine the best course of action. This applies for emergency medical care, but I can imagine that it applies to any other “life or death” situation as well. And I, for one, am ok with that.

  • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

    Parents have the right to make medical decisions, but that right ends when the decision they’ve made is going to kill their child. No one has the right to choose a death sentence for a child, even if the child is advocating for it.
    A 10-year-old’s brain, no matter how mature they may be, is not equipped to truly grasp the concept of the distant future, where a life without this disease and these side effects would be possible. Children that age live largely in the now, recent past and near future, and can’t be trusted to make life or death choices for themselves.

    • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

      Hell, even adults have a hard time thinking about the future.

    • SusannahJoy

      So parents only have the right to choose as long as they choose what you think is right? I’m sorry, but that’s the same thing as saying that parents DON’T have the right to make medical decisions for their children. These parents are scared, and they’re watching their daughter be tortured and are reacting emotionally. It’s completely understandable. I disagree with their choice, I think that they should fight for their daughter’s life, but it is their choice to make. I believe that it should be anyway. I’m very, very much against the government making medical decisions for me, or for anyone else who has family members that can make those decisions themselves.

    • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

      What a bizarre accusation, that I think parents should only choose what *I* think is the correct course of action.
      Let’s be rational. Euthanasia is not even allowed for terminally ill persons (Though, for the record, I believe it should be), and these parents wish to deny their non-terminal child life-saving medical care.
      As a society we have chosen to intervene when parents are making choices that are harming or killing their children.
      This child will die without treatment. With treatment, her chances are very good. Ultimately, she is in her parents’ care, but they do not actually own her, like a pet, who they can choose to allow her to die rather than experience pain. And she is not of an age where she is competent to make life or death choices for herself.
      Being a child’s parent does not endow you with the right to do with that life as you see fit to the extent that the child dies. That is a breech of your guardianship duties.

    • MAB

      I disagree…she is THEIR child, not the government’s child. They are not abusing her..on the contrary, she’ll probably be happier and more comfortable in her home environment. They are not killing her, she has a disease, and anyone should have the right to refuse treatment. They are the ones to suffer the consequences, not the hospital, not the government, not DFS. We don’t force people to vaccinate their children against their beliefs..we sure shouldn’t force painful and protracted treatment that may or may not have permanent, possibly even disabling effects.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      They have the right to make decisions for the child, yes, but not when their choice will result in the child’s death.

    • SusannahJoy

      But where do you draw the line? When there’s only a 70% the child will live, can the government still force a treatment on the child? How about 50%? 25% What if the treatments have an 85% chance of saving her life, but will result in permanent nerve damage and will give her a life of pain? Can the parents say no then? Or if one treatment will result in a lifetime of pain, with a 90% chance of “success” and another only has a 30% but if the child lives, they’ll have no lasting impact? Honestly, I think this case is right on the line of parents rights vs. medical neglect, but I’m almost always going to side with parents instead of government intervention. I think that fewer children will end up being hurt that way.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      Uh, medical neglect is a form of abuse, and these “parents” are deliberately neglecting their daughter’s medical needs.

    • SusannahJoy

      I know, I get that. But seriously, where do you draw the line? It’s not as simple as “when their choice will result in the child’s death.” I just gave several examples of that. Or do you think that even if a treatment is horrific and will result in major permanent damage and only has a slim chance of working that the parents are abusing their child if they don’t do it?

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      Better to treat the illness, and give the kid a chance, than to do nothing and wait for her long, painful death to be over.

      I don’t understand what kind of person can stand by and watch their child die of a treatable, even curable, disease.

    • SusannahJoy

      Then I guess we disagree, because it sounds like you think that it’s best to force a child to go through incredibly painful medical treatments even if they only have a slim chance of working. While that may sometimes be the case, I very much believe that the parents should have the right to make that choice.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      Look, if the kid’s prognosis is <20%, fine, cease treatment and let the kid go, if you feel that's what's right. At that point, it's time to make the patient as comfortable as possible, including giving euthanasia if the patient requests it.

      But if there's a 1 in five chance (or better) for recovery or remission, take it. If it doesn’t work, refer back to paragraph one, and make the patient comfortable.

      Medical care is a basic human right, and her parents should NOT be taking that away from her.

    • MAB

      It could be considered palliative care..to let the child be at home with her parents. You don’t know that her medical needs are being neglected.. they may just choose to use more natural remedies. The Amish take no government benefits, do not take out insurance, and use natural healers when possible. Sad things happen but it’s their child, and their choice whether to pursue treatment. EVERYONE has a right to refuse treatment, even if it’s lifesaving..even if others don’t agree. The medical establishment has been patriarchal for too long and overridden many patients’ rights in the name of ‘what’s best’ or a possible cure. There’s no guarantees the chemo won’t damage her permanently, or even cause another kind of cancer in the future. Not to mention no guarantees that it will even cure her. They have a right to refuse the treatment, just as she would if she were older..and to use whatever methods they prefer.

  • Rachel Sea

    Even if a 10 year old could give rational input, a person who is sick and hurting is not necessarily the best advocate for their own long term health. Some pain meds make it literally impossible for adults to make good decisions, let alone children. Choosing “remedies” that have proven to be little better than faith healing, over a possible cure is ignorance, or negligence, or worse.

  • Momma425

    I’m sorry, the 10 YEAR OLD is not wanting chemo because she is afraid of losing fertility?
    At 10 years old, I don’t think I even knew what that word meant, much less cared. She’s ten! Does she even get periods yet??? WTF???
    These parents should go to jail.

    • R Zhao

      In other words, maybe she was afraid she wouldn’t be able to have a baby. Some little girls do think about this. They also come from a totally different culture and if we want to do anything to try and help kids like this it’s probably better to try and understand it than have a knee-jerk response like “Throw the parents in jail.” That won’t really solve anything.

    • AugustW

      She also can’t have a baby if she’s dead. Just saying.

    • meteor_echo

      You know, a culture where the whole procreation thing is foisted upon TEN YEAR OLDS is a culture where something is wrong. Children should not be worried about having children. Period.

    • blh

      Most people get married and have children so it’s normal for a kid to think about having kids when they grow up. It’s not normal for a kid to stop chemo bc she’s worried about infertility.

    • meteor_echo

      Ferchrissake – I don’t remember myself or my peers back at the age of 10-14 thinking about having kids. We were all more interested in computer games/clothes/books/pets/boys, whatever, but none of us ever thought about having our own kids in anything else but a jocular manner. I think it’s the parents who are worried about their girl becoming ~damaged goods~ here, and not the girl herself.

    • DMH

      You may not have, but not every child is the same. I knew from the time I was that age that I wanted to be part of the military. Maybe she has a dream of a big family. So what.

      That being said, I don’t think it’s right to deny her chemo treatment. She needs to understand that death is a possible outcome, and the parents need to drop their natural remedy bs and take care of their freaking kid. Quite frankly if she were my daughter I would rather have her alive and infertile than dead.

    • meteor_echo

      I hope you won’t deny that, in this case, it’s her parents who are worried about her fertility, not her, won’t you? Either that, or it really was ingrained into her head that her only value is being a mother – after all, the whole Amish community is notorious for its patriarchal treatment of its women. Or both.

      I do completely agree with you on the second part of your comment, though.

    • DMH

      Oh I have no doubt that the parents are worried about her fertility. If I had a daughter, I’d feel sad that she would be infertile but I sure as hell wouldn’t take her off chemo because of it! Child surviving cancer > fertility.

      What I cannot confirm is their reasoning behind their infertility fear. Is it because of a deep rooted cultural thing where infertile women are shunned? I honestly don’t know enough about Amish culture to say if that is true, but I’m sure that it may have at least some impact. I mean, big families are pretty much the norm from what I’ve seen in my area. I don’t know how open they are about adopting, either. I would guess it all differs between communities. Maybe their community is okay with infertility and the parents are just selfish pricks who want a breeder rather than a healthy daughter. I don’t know.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      Nuh, it’s all about producing a viable brood-mare for the cult.

    • MAB

      don’t forget she is AMISH..no electricity, no TV, no video games, no One Direction..even the dolls can’t have faces. She’s probably from a family of many children and could be more experienced at taking care of young ones than many 25 year old moms. Heck, she’s probably able to run a household herself right now, sew a quilt, can, and do laundry for 10 people. In a few years, she won’t even attend school anymore. Different lifestyle, different set of values, but no less valid than more modern thinking people.

    • Momma425

      Exactly! When I was 10, I assumed I would grow up and have a baby…but I was not even getting periods yet. I wasn’t worried about my fertility- I was worried about spice girls and whether or not my friends would think I was cool if I still played with barbie dolls, and fighting with my mother about whether or not I was old enough for make-up. I work in a clinic- the ten year olds who have cancer make my heart melt. They are worried about a lot of things- about not growing up, about never going to middle school, about losing their hair. I have never ever ever heard one of them say, “I’m worried about losing my fertility.”
      Yes, it is a difference in culture, but honestly anything or anyone that teaches a child, “you’re better off dead than infertile,” is really warped and messed up. Additionally, at 10 years old (at least in the state I live in), children do not get to make decisions about their medications without parental consent. The parents are AT LEAST being neglectful by letting “her” make the decision to stop chemo…although my guess is that the decision was made more by THEM and their feelings, and less than by her.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      Uhhh, no. The concern over her fertility is entirely manufactured by a society that is even more repressive and patriarchal than mainstream American society. No normal 10 year old is going to worry about their fertility because they have normal 10 year old kid things to worry about.

      If the child herself is concerned, it’s because she’s been told, all her life, that her only role is to be a wife and a mommy.

  • Ummm… No.

    Why don’t people get this upset when a baby is aborted? Is it any different? I don’t believe in abortion, and I agre that the parents are not thinking clearly but I wonder why it is okay to kill a child in utero, and not here? Even after the child has agreed to end treatment? Just thinking out loud.

    • R Zhao

      Why don’t more people get upset when people, especially children, die in war? Is it any different? Why is okay to kill people in other countries in the name of defense and not here? Just thinking out load here.

      There are many reasons people make the decisions they make. Different people, of different backgrounds, define murder in different ways.

    • Cee

      Oh good god, just shut up.

    • alice

      lololol

    • AugustW

      Babies aren’t aborted. Fetuses are.

    • Simone

      No, that’s not ‘thinking’. Not out loud, not quietly, not at all.

    • whiteroses

      I’m pro life. But comparing the two is not the same at all.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      Legally, and I believe morally, a fetus is not a child until viability. That makes killing a live child and terminating a pregnancy before 28 weeks two totally different things. Period.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      Because there’s a difference between the parasitic fetus and an actual child, maybe?

  • Simone

    This had to be done. If we allow parents to refuse their children to receive life-saving treatment for a terminal illness, we are tacitly allowing an enormous range of very harmful activities. We would be allowing, for example. Jessica to treat her son’s broken vertebra with sagewort and blue light healing. I happen to feel that alternative therapies are valuable and important, but no state body can afford to allow parents to exercise that degree of interference with the dominant medical bodies. It’s too dangerous.

  • VĂ©ronique Houde

    Hmmmm…. torn up about this. Just witnessed my best friend go through cancer treatments and die despite doctors giving her 30 years to live. Having seen the ravages of the treatments on her, I can totally see where these parents are coming from. In their community and many other religious communities, perhaps death is not the end all.

    To each their own. We’re not talking about child abuse and the government not interfering. We’re talking about a family making a decision that yes, perhaps might lead to this child’s death. But think of it this way – cancer treatments are the only ones that actually cause MORE physical pain in order to heal you. You can’t understand it until you’ve really experienced it… It’s not up to me to judge this family…

    • http://www.whatwouldshethink.com/ Rachelle

      I’m kind of with you on this one. If they’ve gone forth with it and are informed of the consequences of stopping treatment, and still feel it’s what they want for their daughter – and she wants for herself – then who are the doctors to impose. Many canadian doctors even say that they wouldn’t choose chemotherapy for themselves. If they would rather fully enjoy their life with their daughter – no matter how much time they have left – it’s their prerogative, even if it’s something that’s hard to understand.

    • chickadee

      I know what you mean, but I do think that there is a difference between types of cancer and the age of the patient. ALL is vicious, but it has an excellent treatment rate and responds very well to chemo. I do understand that the parents’ approach to death is quite different from many others’, but there is a point at which the larger community of which you are a part is allowed to determine what constitutes health and safety of minor children. Adults are much more capable of weighing the alternatives in a terminal-illness situation than children are.

      Although the Amish do live apart from the greater American society, and while I think (I *think*) they are given some dispensations due to their religious beliefs to avoid conforming to all of the government’s regulations, I do not believe that we are required to stand by and watch as a community with a certain set of beliefs allows a child to die who has an excellent chance of living a healthy and productive life.

    • VĂ©ronique Houde

      nope. still don’t agree and that’s okay! after all, it’s not my kid and it’s not yours, so we’re not concerned. ;)

    • chickadee

      I’m not sure that we *shouldn’t* be concerned, I suppose. I guess that’s why I am in favor of the court’s deciding that the parents are not making a wise decision for their daughter — I do feel that the community should intervene in certain situations, and this is one of the few.

    • SDA

      I agree with you – its not even like this is a 50/50 chance…the child has an 85% chance and deserves to be given a shot. Ask her in 20 years how she felt about the court intervening.

    • Mette

      Where I live, doctors are obligated to treat children, if it’s a matter of life or death. Parents can’t by law decide to terminate treatment for their children under the age of 15 (I think), no matter how great parents they are otherwise.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      I get what you’re saying, but with the treatment this child will most likely live. Without it she won’t. The doctors involved made that crystal clear. i won’t go into my own personal experience with the situation except to say I have up close and personal experience.

    • VĂ©ronique Houde

      did you notice that we’re basically all repeating our points over and over again? I think we can all agree to disagree! I don’t think we’ll hate each other ;)

  • chickadee

    Apparently, chemo makes you feel bad, reduces your energy and makes you behave unlike yourself. This is not a surprise, since chemo meds are toxic — they are killing off cancer cells. When my parents went through chemotherapy (3 years apart) the chemo nurses had to take extreme precautions with the chemo meds because they were hazardous. So they make you feel sick, and unlike your normal self.

    It is the parents’ job to make healthy and responsible decisions for their children, and from the interview below, it just sounds like the parents decided that if the medicine was having a negative short-term effect on their daughter, then the medicine had to go. The father does generously add that if the homeopathic meds don’t work after a while, they will take her back to the hospital. Hope it’s not too late at that point….

    From ABC News:
    ‘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.

    “It put her down for two days. She was not like her normal self,” he said. “We just thought we cannot do this to her.”

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

    “Our belief is, to a certain extent, we can use modern medicine, but at
    some times we have to stop it and do something else,” Hershberger said
    in a telephone interview.

    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.

    “We see her every day. We watch her really close,” her father said. “She
    runs, plays. She crawls up ladders. She’s got a lot of energy, more
    than she had when she was doing chemo.”

    Hershberger said they have not ruled out returning to Akron Children’s
    Hospital if Sarah’s health worsens. “We told them if it gets to the
    point that we cannot do anything for her, we would come back,” he said.’

    • Tara

      Yeah, that sounds pretty par-for-the-course where chemo is concerned. Of course it’s horrible to watch your child go through that. I think any parent would do anything to keep that from happening to their child. But most people realize that it is necessary if they want to actually beat the cancer.

  • blh

    On one hand, I can see people stopping chemo bc it sucks and I think alot of people do just stop and just enjoy the time they have left. But this is a child who can’t really grasp the concept of death and i think it sets a dangerous precedent. Then a whole bunch of idiots will be wanting to treat their kids illnesses with “nautral” things that don’t even work. If it wouldn’t save her and would just prolong her life I would be on the parents side. What bothers me if the mention of fertility. I wouldn’t care even a tiny bit whether my son would be able to have children later if it meant saving his life.

    • SDA

      Agreed. And she has 85% chance recovery, I could definitely understand if the chances weren’t so good to not put their child through it, but I really don’t think the kid can grasp all of this quite yet.

  • Amber

    They’d rather have her dead than unable to bear children…

    Wow. That tells you a whole lot about that family. I hope the kids run like hell away from them as soon as they’re able to.

  • Ginny

    I’m sorry, but with 85% chance recovery, there is seriously something sick and wrong about the fact her parents stopped treatment for her. This story is just sad and wacked up at the same time.