Originally published January 29 2015
Mother speaks out over daughter forced by state to undergo chemo treatments
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) She is known only as "Cassandra C." in court papers because, at 17, she is still considered a minor. But she is nevertheless locked in an epic battle with the state of Connecticut, where officials from the Department of Children and Families (DCF) have removed her from her home and forced her to undergo chemotherapy treatment.
As reported by CBS News, Cassandra was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in September, but she had steadfastly refused the chemotherapy treatment, because she felt it was nothing more than poison to her body -- a decision that garnered full support from her mother.
In November, after doctors had recommended the treatment, the state DCF stepped in, winning a court order from a judge for temporary custody, which resulted in the department ordering her mother to take her daughter in for chemo, under DCF supervision. After just two treatments, however, Cassandra ran away from home and then refused further treatments after returning.
"Following a hearing at which Cassandra's doctors testified, the trial court ordered that she be removed from her home and that she remain in DCF's care and custody," court documents stated. "The court also authorized DCF to make all necessary medical decisions on Cassandra's behalf."
Being victimized by the courts
Cassandra and her mother appealed the ruling, claiming that forcing her to undergo such treatment was a violation of her constitutional rights.
"It's a question of fundamental constitutional rights -- the right to have a say over what happens to your body-and the right to say to the government 'you can't control what happens to my body,'" Cassandra's mother's attorney, Michael S. Taylor, told WTIC-TV. He represents Cassandra's mother, while a state public defender represents Cassandra.
In less than a year, when she turns 18, Cassandra will be considered an adult in the state and can make her own decision. But for now, she is being victimized by the courts and a state agency because she is still considered a minor.
Mother Jackie Fortin says she also believes that her daughter has the right to make her mind up in this case.
"She does not want the toxins. She does not want people telling her what to do with her body and how to treat it," Fortin said, according to CBS News.
But, doctors and medical experts say, the medicines in chemotherapy could kill the disease -- so what's the harm?
"They are also killing her body," Fortin responded. "They are killing her organs. They're killing her insides. It's not even a matter of dying. She's not going to die."
At some point she will have to take some steps to battle the deadly disease, and Fortin agrees.
"She will, but she should have the choice herself," she said.
"This breaks my heart"
She and her daughter have researched alternative medical treatments to chemo and have also sought second opinions, but nevertheless a court ordered the chemical treatments anyway, claiming that, as her mother, Fortin failed to obtain proper life-saving treatment for her daughter.
"Without me, standing by her side, while she's losing her hair. Getting sick, throwing up," Fortin said. "This is not right."
"We really do have the expert testimony, the expert advice of physicians who are saying unequivocally if she does not get the treatment that she needs she will die," Kristina Stevens, of the Connecticut DCF, told CBS News.
"What really triggers this confrontation with her refusal is you have something that works. The numbers are between 85 and 90 percent success rates," added Arthur Caplan, who heads up the medical ethics division at NYU Langone Medical Center. "The idea that you're going to say no to something that can save your life really makes the state pay attention when that person is a minor."
Cassandra's family filed an emergency appeal with the state supreme court in December.
"She's almost 18 years old. And this to me really, really breaks my heart and kills me," Fortin said. "I'm proud of her. I am proud of her for standing up and fighting for what she wants and what she doesn't want."
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