The Following Is A True Story:
In 2014 as Halloween approached, 12 police vehicles arrived at Cassandra C.’s house in Connecticut. She was a 17 year old girl that had been diagnosed with cancer (Hodgkin’s Lymphoma) and alone in her house. The police escorted an employee with the DCF (Department of Children and Families) into the home and found Cassandra. She was hiding in a closet. They told her they had orders to remove her from her house and take her to a hospital where she was mandated by a court order to undergo chemotherapy for her disease. She was not permitted to call her mother.
When she was first diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Cassandra and her mother began researching all the methods available to address this diagnosis. Cassandra decided she wanted to try a natural approach that could effectively address the disease without suffering the potential short and long term side effects that chemotherapy could potentially produce. As a result of her decision, her doctors contacted the DCF. The courts were quickly brought into the case and so began the legal battle.
Cassandra and her mother quickly found out how the judicial system worked. The state of Connecticut took on the responsibility deciding what her options were. Cassandra’s lawyer presented her case to the court. There requests were met with adamant refusals. The doctors (speaking on behalf of the state) told the judge that Cassandra would die if chemotherapy was not started. The judge ruled that Cassandra’s ONLY option was chemotherapy. This mandate REQUIRED her to comply with the hospitals’ instructions. She was placed in the hospital for 5 months while undergoing chemotherapy. She was allowed minimal contact with her family. During these limited visits, a DCF employee had to be present to supervise while a guard sat outside the room. The visits could not exceed 2 hours.
After going through the 5 months of chemotherapy and all the pain (both emotional and physical) associated with the treatment and incarceration, Cassandra was released from the hospital reportedly in a state of remission. Within just a few months (July of 2015) Cassandra had a PET scan which revealed a “hot spot” in the abdominal region. Based on the quality of the scan the images showed “something” but was not conclusive. She was told that additional testing would be performed in August.
Cassandra will turn 18 in September. Her August appointment has created a source of real anxiety. If further testing reveals that her disease is no longer in remission, she fears the state will once again step in and decide her fate without her consent. She knows that additional chemotherapy will be ordered.
Points we need to consider:
It’s legal for a 12-year-old to get birth control and have an abortion without the consent or knowledge of her parents in several states, but a 17-year-old isn’t allowed to refuse chemotherapy.
It’s legal to terminate a pregnancy, but illegal (in this case a violation of a court order) to choose a natural holistic healthcare treatment to treat one’s own disease.
The courts have the right to take a minor that has committed a violent crime and charge and sentence this person as an adult. Why can’t these same courts choose to listen to a minor (17 year old girl) and treat her as an adult; one who is willing to take on the responsibility of her own health by researching and choosing a reasonable alternative course of treatment to combat this disease?
Is it really acceptable behavior to strap a 17 year old to a hospital bed and force her to undergo chemotherapy intravenously against her will?
Is it really acceptable behavior to threaten her with sedation prior to every chemotherapy treatment as well as withholding food for 12 hours prior to sedation if she does not voluntarily cooperate? Do we really need to create more fear in a young woman already facing the possibility of death?
Is it really acceptable behavior to isolate her from her family and friends, confine her to her room and keep an armed guard at the door to insure all court orders are followed?