Amish Family Chemo Battle Continues

    January 21, 2014

An Amish family has fled their home, and has gone into hiding, after a court ruling ordered that their daughter continue chemotherapy treatments.

Sarah Hershberger, an 11-year-old Amish girl, was diagnosed with Leukemia in April 2013, and was undergoing rounds of chemotherapy until her parents Andy and Anna Hershberger made the decision to stop treatments. Her parents believed that the medicine was making her too sick, and they feared that their daughter would die if the chemotherapy was not stopped.

Despite the parents requests, the hospital appealed to the court in a request that Sarah be granted a guardian to ensure that she continues to receive the medical attention that she needs. In October, the hospital’s request was granted, and Sarah was appointed a guardian Maria Schimer, who would remain in charge of all of Sara’s medical decisions. Schimer says that although she respects the religious background of the Hershberger family, that doesn’t outweigh the duties of the law to protect the child. “I believe there can be no doubt that it is in her best interest to have chemotherapy and have a chance to live a full life,” Schimer said.

Sarah was being treated at the Akron Children’s Hospital in Ohio, and doctors informed the court that her form of Leukemia could be treated. In a desperate plea, the hospital revealed that if she does not follow through with her treatments, that she could be dead in as little as a year.

Sarah’s parents are urgently trying to appeal the ruling that appointed the guardian, and want to be able to treat Sarah with natural methods, of their choosing, such as vitamins and herbs. “We’ve seen how sick it makes her,” Andy said. “Our belief is the natural stuff will do just as much as that stuff if it’s God’s will.”

According to the Hershberger’s attorney, by appointing Sarah a guardian and forcing her to receive treatment, the family’s constitutional rights are being violated, and this decision could affect the rights of other parents to make their own medical choices in Ohio. “Any parent could have significant decisions second-guessed, any parent could lose the right to choose the doctor, hospital and course of medical treatment of their choice,” the family’s attorney said.

Anna, Andy, and Sarah are hoping that the court will grant their appeal, and that they will be able to return to their home soon.

Image via Wikimedia Commons