Some comments about the issues involved in the Ohio Amish family that left the country to seek alternative therapies for their daughter with a form of leukemia.  Family Physicians see patients like this and care deeply for the individuals and families who are involved.
On November 19, the 1851 Center announced its representation of the Hershbergers, maintaining:
  • Section 21, Article I of the Ohio Constitution, the Ohio Healthcare Freedom Amendment passed by 67 percent of Ohio voters in 2011 prohibits the compulsion of any person “to participate in a health care system.”
  • Even before Section 21, the Ohio Supreme Court held that the Ohio Constitution ensures “personal security, bodily integrity, and autonomy,” and therefore “[t]he right to refuse medical treatment” is amongst the “rights inherent in every individual.”
  • The U.S Supreme Court has repeatedly confirmed the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution clearly provides protection to parents in the “care, custody, and control” of their children, including the right “to direct the upbringing . . . of children under their control.”
  • The U.S. Supreme Court has also ruled that the “primary role of the parents in the upbringing of their children is now established beyond debate as an enduring American tradition,” and “[t]he statist notion that governmental power should supersede parental authority in all cases because some parents abuse and neglect children is repugnant to American tradition.”
The litigation began when the Hershbergers removed their daughter from Akron Children’s Hospital in July, in favor of a less invasive alternative treatment, after it appeared as though chemotherapy itself was a greater threat to her than her mild form of cancer. The Hospital then moved in court to take Sarah from the Hershbergers and force treatment in July.
The hospital’s move came only after county social services officials found the Hershbergers to be quality parents, and, and despite hospital demands, refused to take Sarah from the family. The Medina County probate court found that the Hershbergers were model parents, explaining “there is no evidence the parents are unfit or unstable,” and “there is not a scintilla of evidence showing the parents are unfit.”
However, the Appellate Court used an obscure Ohio statute intended to address child abuse and neglect to order Sara to be taken from the home and forced to undergo chemotherapy.
The Court made this ruling even though Sarah’s mild form of cancer is a type that can and is being treated without chemotherapy, and despite conceding that chemotherapy may well cause loss of hair, infections, infertility, cardiovascular disease, damage to internal organs, an increased risk of contracting other cancers, and even death.
The case remains pending on a jurisdictional motion before the Ohio Supreme Court and on appeal to the Ninth District; however those appeals are likely to be mooted by the Judge’s approval of the Resignation.


Editors note: There is a comprehensive story about Sarah Hershberger’s ordeal on the Journal of Natural Food and Health website.  Donations for Sarah’s treatment which involve use of natural foods, nutritional supplements, natural medicines and treatments can be made at Sarah’s Amish Health Freedom Fund.
Click to Donate to Sarah's Treatment Fund
Click to Donate to Sarah’s Treatment Fund