Court Appoints Temporary Guardian for 10-Year-Old Amish Girl Whose Parents Stopped Chemotherapy

Ruling States Hospital Can Force Chemotherapy on Child

An appeals court sided with Akron Children's Hospital in Ohio and appointed a registered nurse as temporary guardian of a 10-year-old Amish girl whose parents decided to stop chemotherapy treatment. The hospital decided to take the parents to court in order to possibly save the girl's life.

"While we respect the wishes of the parents and believe them to be honest and sincere, we are unwilling to adhere to the wishes of the parents," the judges' ruling said.

Sarah Hershberger, 10, reportedly begged her parents to stop treatment for her leukemia after she got sick from the chemotherapy. After a great deal of prayer, the family agreed to stop and treat Sarah's leukemia with natural remedies, Andy Hershberger, her father, told the Associated Press. The Hershberger family lives on a farm and practices the Amish tradition, which often shuns modern medicine and instead focuses on religious and spiritual healing.

"It put her down for two days," Andy added. "She was not like her normal self" after the second round of chemotherapy. "We just thought we cannot do this to her. Our belief is, to a certain extent, we can use modern medicine, but at some times we have to stop it and do something else."

Part of that treatment includes regular visits with a doctor who treats Sarah with natural medicines, herbs and vitamins, which have reportedly made a tremendous difference in the girl's life.

"We see her every day. We watch her really close. She runs, plays… she crawls up ladders. She's got a lot of energy, more than she had when she was doing chemo," Andy said. "We told them [Akron Children's Hospital] if it gets to the point that we cannot do anything for her, we would come back."

However, the hospital filed a motion in court to grant temporary guardianship to a registered nurse, who will make all medical decisions for Sarah. She could decide to continue chemotherapy, which would go directly against the Hershberger's wishes.