No one likes going through chemotherapy. Most people suffer through the treatment because it is better than the alternative. An Amish family from Ohio has recently decided, however, that chemotherapy is not the right choice. They have fled the United States in order to stop their 10-year-old girl from being treated after an appeals court appointed a guardian to decide medical decisions for the family.
The family had been previously taken to court by the Akron Children’s Hospital in July when the family had first decided to stop the treatment.
The little girl, whose name is Sarah Hershberger, has tumors on her kidneys, chest and neck. Hospital doctors say that Sarah has no chance of surviving if she does not receive chemotherapy.
Unfortunately, simply getting Sarah started on chemo again may not be entirely effective either. Doctors report that stopping and then starting chemotherapy can be very dangerous and not always effective.
Sarah was originally receiving chemotherapy as part of a planned attack against the leukemia cells. Her parents made the decision to take Sarah off of the treatment when it began to make her sick and she begged them to please stop the treatment.
Last August Andy Hershberger said in an interview that he has seen how sick the chemo can make her and that “our belief is the natural stuff will do just as much as that stuff if it’s God’s will.” He also added that chemo only brings more suffering to the sick child.
Doctors say that it is possible for Sarah to appear as though she is feeling better over the next month, because the work the chemo did is still taking place. However, they are gravely concerned for her safety in the near future.
The family’s lawyer, Maurice Thompson, announced that the Amish family has fled the country to seek different forms of treatment than the court mandated chemotherapy for their daughter. He also added that while there is a constitutional right for hospitals to seek the general welfare of the citizens of this country, there is also a “moral right to refuse conventional medical treatment.”
Officials suspect that the family has been gone for more than a month, based on their investigation. The Sherriff of the Herschberger’s county, Tom Miller, added that it would take a court ordered mandate in order for him to get involved and that he is not expecting one.
One of the big questions being asked in this case is over parent’s choice. Will this case paint the hospital as a large corporation that can force you to undergo expensive treatments or will people see the hospital as a loving and concerned entity that wants the best for its patients and is willing to save them no matter what.
It will also be interesting to see how this case effects the conversation about faith based healing in America and if the parents are pursued, should Sarah die. Just this past summer in Philadelphia, two parents were found guilty of murder after their second child died of pneumonia because the parents believed in faith based healing and did not seek medical help. The couple will be sentenced in February.
There has been no word as to where the Herschbergers are or if they have begun any unconventional treatment. The Herschberger’s home has been answered by neighbors in the past weeks as people sought news of the Amish family who has fled this country rather than face court mandated chemotherapy.
By Nick Manai