[Rushtalk] Completely Ridiculous!

John A. Quayle blueoval57 at verizon.net
Fri Nov 29 18:33:06 MST 2013

Amish family flees to avoid chemotherapy for girl with cancer

By Cheryl Powell
Beacon Journal medical writer
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Published: November 27, 2013 - 07:09 PM

An Amish girl with cancer is spending Thanksgiving in hiding to avoid 
being forced to continue chemotherapy at Akron Children's Hospital 
against her family's wishes.

Sarah's parents, Andy and Anna Hershberger, fled their Amish 
community in rural Medina County in October and took the girl to a 
natural cancer treatment center in Central America, her grandfather, 
Isaac Keim, said in an interview this week at the Akron Beacon Journal.

Blood and imaging tests have shown Sarah, who is continuing 
treatments with natural products, is cancer-free, her grandfather 
said. She recently celebrated her 11th birthday.

"She's a vibrant, healthy girl," Keim said.

Keim said he accompanied his granddaughter and her parents to the 
undisclosed clinic just days before a Medina County judge appointed 
Portage County attorney and registered nurse Maria Schimer guardian 
for the limited purpose of making medical decisions for Sarah as she 
battles lymphoma.

The girl and her parents, along with a baby sister, are back in the 
United States but remain in hiding, Keim said. The couple's five 
other children are being cared for by their community, which shuns 
many modern conveniences and is deeply religious.

Keim, the bishop for his district, said he hopes his family can be 
together for the holiday season.

"What kind of gift would that be, if we could get this resolved and 
they can come back home without a fear of being in contempt of court 
or having their child snatched away," he said. "We're praying every 
day that this thing can be resolved and get their lives back together."

After Sarah was diagnosed with lymphoma in April, she underwent a 
successful initial round of chemotherapy at Children's that caused 
few side effects, her grandfather said. "We were very thankful."

Second round stopped

But the family's legal battle started when her parents decided to 
stop a second round of chemotherapy this summer when the treatments 
made her extremely ill and instead used natural remedies.

"She did not want any part of it anymore," Keim said.

The hospital subsequently took the parents to court seeking to 
continue Sarah's course of treatment, which doctors have said is 
needed to save her life. Children's officials declined comment on Wednesday.

Clair E. Dickinson, an attorney for the guardian, said this week that 
he's unsure where Sarah is staying or how she is faring.

Girl's condition unknown

"The undisputed testimony was without treatment she would die within 
six months to a year," Dickinson said. "She was last treated in June. 
We don't know where she is, what her condition is or whether she is 
receiving treatment."

The guardian arranged for transportation to take Sarah from her home 
to Akron for more treatments a few days after being appointed to make 
medical decisions, Dickinson said. When the driver arrived, the girl 
and her parents weren't there.

"It's pretty difficult to make medical decisions for somebody who you 
don't know where they are or what their condition is," Dickinson said.

Dickinson said there are no contempt-of-court orders or any other 
charges pending against the parents, despite their disappearance with Sarah.

"I would like to see this little girl get whatever treatment would be 
appropriate at this stage," he said.

John Oberholtzer, one of the attorneys for the Hershbergers, couldn't 
be reached.

Attorney Maurice A. Thompson, executive director of the 1851 Center 
for Constitutional Law, said he recently agreed to help the family 
for free and filed a brief in support of the parents with the Ohio 
Supreme Court, where an appeal is being sought. The nonprofit group, 
based in Columbus, supports limited government intrusion in people's lives.

The case centers on the Hershbergers' rights as competent, caring 
parents to determine what is best for their child, Thompson said.

The legal fight has repercussions beyond parental rights, he added. 
"It's also health-care freedom the right to refuse medical treatment 
and to choose a different option."

Natural remedies helping

Sarah's grandfather said he and other members of their community have 
had great success using natural remedies along with conventional 
medicine to treat cancer.

Her parents wanted to work with the hospital, he said. "We wanted 
them to monitor if we put her on completely natural products."

But Thompson said Sarah's parents have lost trust in Children's and 
fear she would be "kidnapped" if they took her for medical care.

"It's chased them away from any benefit that treatment in a hospital 
could provide," he said.

Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or 
<mailto:cpowell at thebeaconjournal.com>cpowell at thebeaconjournal.com. 
Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/abjcherylpowell.

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