A 10-year-old Amish girl suffering from a life-threatening disease will have her treatment restored by an Ohio hospital, despite her parents’ demands that she rely solely on "natural medicines". The girl, Sarah Hershberger, suffers from Leukaemia for which the Akron Children’s Hospital prescribed five rounds of chemotherapy.
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However, her parents asked the hospital to stop the treatment after only one round as the girl became very ill, despite being told that without treatment their daughter would be dead within a year. With treatment, Hershberger was given an 85% chance of survival.
After the parents stopped the treatment in June, the hospital requested a guardian be appointed to make decisions for the child. A lower court decision in September ruled that the "parents’ right to make medical decisions" was protected by the US constitution. However, this week’s decision by an appeal court ruled that a guardian could be appointed and the treatment could resume.
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The hospital's lawyer, who is also a registered nurse, is to be be granted limited guardianship over the patient, with the power to make medical decisions on her behalf. Wednesday's ruling said: "Parental rights, even if based upon firm belief and honest convictions can be limited in order to protect the 'best interests' of the child."
The court concluded: "While we respect the wishes of the parents and believe them to be honest and sincere, we are unwilling to adhere to the wishes of the parents." Speaking in August, John Oberholtzer, the family's lawyer, said: "They do not wish to subject their daughter to this and believe the will of God will triumph."