Amish Girl's Forced Chemo Battle Is Over

Judge ends oversight in the case
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 9, 2015 10:52 AM CDT
Amish Girl's Forced Chemo Battle Is Over

A judge formally ended the court-ordered guardianship of an Amish girl who resisted a hospital's attempts to force her to resume chemotherapy, bringing a close to the fight that raised questions about the rights of parents in making medical decisions for their children. The judge's decision, announced Friday, came more than a year after Sarah Hershberger's guardian gave up her efforts to force the girl into chemotherapy for leukemia. Sarah and her parents went into hiding in the fall of 2013. Sarah, who is now 12, no longer shows signs of being sick, said Kevin Dunn, a probate judge in Medina County. A visit to her home in August found that Sarah was "active and working daily on the family farm, she appeared healthy and appropriately developed," he wrote.

But Dunn cautioned her parents that she is not fully recovered and warned that they still have a duty to provide her care under Ohio law. "Her parents are not free to act entirely as they may choose," the judge said. The court fight began in the summer of 2013, when Sarah's parents decided to halt treatments because they said chemotherapy was making her too sick and they feared it was killing her. Akron Children's Hospital went to court after the family decided to treat Sarah with natural medicines, such as herbs and vitamins. Maria Schimer, an attorney who's also a registered nurse, was given the power to make medical decisions for Sarah, but Schimer decided to drop the effort because it became impossible to monitor Sarah's health or make any medical decisions for her after she left home and went into hiding. The family fled their farm in northeast Ohio's Medina County and sought treatment in Mexico before returning home after a few months. (Read more Amish stories.)

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