Ohio Parents Stop Coercive Medicine Aimed at Daughter

By:  Alex Newman
02/19/2014
       
Ohio Parents Stop Coercive Medicine Aimed at Daughter

After battling Ohio state officials and even going into hiding to stop authorities from forcing their young daughter to receive controversial chemotherapy, a cancer treatment that the parents said was killing her, an Amish family is one “big step” closer to victory.

Last week, in a ruling that is being celebrated as a small win for parental rights and healthcare freedom, a judge ruled that the court-mandated “guardian” assigned to make decisions for the girl could drop the bid to coerce 11-year-old Sarah Hershberger into receiving chemo against the family’s will.

The family’s saga, which has made headlines around the world, first attracted public scrutiny after the devout Hershberger parents decided in July to stop chemotherapy for their daughter, who suffers from leukemia. The Hershbergers believed the therapy was having a devastating and potentially fatal impact on their child and chose to try other options such as natural medicines instead. The Akron Children's Hospital disagreed with the parents’ decision and contacted authorities in an effort to have the social services remove the girl from her home and force the treatment on her at gunpoint.

When county officials found the Hershbergers to be fit parents and refused to rip the girl away from her family, the hospital went to court in an effort to enforce its will. Eventually, an Ohio appeals court ruled against the parents, claiming that their rights, beliefs, and convictions could not interfere with the government’s notion of what is supposedly in the “best interest” of the girl. The court then appointed a “guardian,” Maria Schimer, to make decisions for the family while seeking to remove the girl from her loving parents’ care.

Out of options, the Hershbergers fled their farm in Medina County to protect the young girl from “medicine at gunpoint.” Chemotherapy has potential side effects that include infections, infertility, heart disease, damage to internal organs, heightened risk of contracting other cancers, and even death. The family eventually left the country for Latin America to pursue alternative treatments and prevent authorities from seizing the girl. The hospital had claimed she would die within six months to a year without the treatment it sought to impose by force.

As opposed to dying from a lack of chemo, which was reportedly making the cancer-stricken girl extremely ill, she responded very well to less-risky medical treatments, her family members told reporters, adding that the cancer was receding. In fact, her grandfather, citing the results of blood and imaging tests, told the Akron Beacon Journal in November that she was cancer-free after having recently celebrated her 11th birthday. “She’s a vibrant, healthy girl,” said Isaac Keim, the grandfather, noting that his granddaughter did not want chemo either.

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