Amish Girl, 10, Won't Be Forced to Have Chemo, Judge Rules

Judge says Amish girl with cancer shouldn't be forced to undergo chemo.

ByABC News
September 5, 2013, 2:23 PM

Sept. 5, 2013— -- A 10-year-old Amish girl will not be forced to undergo chemotherapy, an Ohio judge has ruled, siding with the girl's parents, who say previous chemotherapy made her sick.

Though an appeals court sent the case back to a judge for further consideration last week, Judge John Lohn denied temporary limited guardianship to a nurse and dismissed the case in Medina County, Ohio, explaining that the Hershbergers are "good parents."

"They live a simple life, but this does not mean they are simple-minded," Lohn wrote in the ruling.

In April, Sarah Hershberger was diagnosed with lymphoblastic lymphoma, which resulted in tumors on her neck, chest and kidneys, according to court records. Sarah started chemotherapy at Akron Children's Hospital in Medina County, Ohio, but her parents, Andy and Anna Hershberger, decided to stop the treatments in June.

Listen to Adam Hershberger on Good Morning America.

Sarah has an 85 percent chance of survival with chemotherapy, according to a statement from Akron Children's Hospital. Without it, the cancer is "almost always fatal," the hospital wrote on its webpage about Sarah's case.

"We've seen how sick it makes her," Andy Hershberger told Good Morning America in a phone interview last week."Our belief is the natural stuff will do just as much as that stuff if it's God's will. She would have more suffering doing chemo than not."

The Hershbergers believe chemotherapy will kill Sarah, but they don't object to resuming it "at some point in the future," Lohn wrote in his ruling.

"Akron Children's Hospital is disappointed in Judge Lohn's ruling," the hospital said in a statement. "We believe this case is about children's rights and giving a 10-year-old girl an 85 percent chance of survival with treatment."

Lohn wrote that the chemotherapy wasn't a surefire cure, and that the Hershbergers weren't informed about its side effects.

"Sarah says her doctor should be put in jail," Lohn wrote. "Even if the treatments are successful, there is a very good chance Sarah will become infertile and have other serious health risks for the rest of her life."