Health Law

Amish girl diagnosed with cancer is responding well to alternative treatment, legal group says

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An Amish girl diagnosed with cancer is responding well to alternative treatment, according to the legal group that represents her parents.

The Akron Children’s Hospital had successfully petitioned for a guardian to represent the girl, now 11, who had an initial round of chemotherapy before her parents decided in June to switch to natural medicines. But the family has fled their home and a court-appointed limited guardian is seeking to resign because she has been unable to meet with the family, report Reuters, the Associated Press, the Akron Beacon Journal and the Medina-Gazette.

The girl’s parents, Andy and Anna Hershberger of Spencer, Ohio, said the chemo caused significant side effects and their daughter had begged to stop the treatments. A doctor for Akron Children’s Hospital had testified the girl suffers from T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma, which has an 85 percent survival rate with treatment. Without treatment, the doctor said, she may only live for six months to a year.

The girl’s grandfather told the Akron Beacon Journal that the family took the girl to a natural cancer treatment center in Central America for treatment. He said the family is now back in the country but they remain in hiding.

The executive director of the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, Maurice Thompson, said the girl “has responded well to the alternative treatment. The cancer is receding, and she is in excellent physical condition.”

The 1851 Center cites an Ohio constitutional amendment passed in 2011 that prevents the compulsion of any person “to participate in a health care system.” The group also cites court rulings on the right to refuse medical treatment and on the rights of parents.

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