By: Robert C. Bess Sr.
On Friday, an Ohio 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.
In October 2013, Homer Township parents Andy and Anna Hershberger refused to allow chemotherapy treatments to be administered to their daughter Sarah Hershberger, then age 9 years. Sarah was diagnosed with Lymphoblastic Lymphoma which is curable disease. An Appeals Court ordered Sarah to receive chemotherapy treatments and granted Akron, Ohio Children’s Hospital rights to appoint a legal guardian to make medical decisions on Sarah’s behalf. The Hershberger’s fled the country to avoid treatments citing that the chemotherapy treatments were too harsh and natural treatments were better and had fewer side effects.
The judge’s decision, announced Friday, came more than a year after Sarah Hershberger’s guardian gave up their efforts to force the girl into chemotherapy for Leukemia. As for Sarah who is now 12 years old, she no longer has signs of the disease, said Kevin Dunn, a Probate Judge in Medina County. Kevin Dunn visited the home in August and found that Sarah was, in his words “active and working daily on the family farm, she appeared healthy and appropriately developed.”
Amish people, such as the Hershbergers shun many facets of modern living; however, the Hershbergers said that they stopped chemotherapy not for religious reasons but because they felt the therapy was hurting their daughter. Maurice Thompson, the family’s attorney, told the Medina-Gazette, “She had MRIs and blood work, and the judge over the last year helped facilitate at least one trip to the Cleveland Clinic. The MRIs did not show any cancer.” For now this current episode is over, with the most important factor Sarah, safe.