Connecticut Removes Teen from Home for Refusing Chemotherapy – Now She is suing the State

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Published on: January 6, 2015

17-year-old Cassandra was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. With her mother’s approval, Cassandra refused chemotherapy. The State of Connecticut stepped in and gave an order to remove her from her home and administer the treatments. Now, she is filing a lawsuit against the state.

According to court documents, which list her as “Cassandra,” she was diagnosed back in September 2014 with Hodgkins Lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system, which is part of the immune system.

Cassandra decided that she did not want to undergo the chemotherapy and her mother supported that decision.

“She has always—even years ago—said that if she was diagnosed with cancer, she would not put poison into her body,” said Jackie Fortin, Cassandra’s mother.

However, in November of 2014, the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) petitioned a court for temporary custody of Cassandra in order to force Cassandra to receive the chemotherapy.

Both Cassandra and her mother complied with the order at first and Cassandra received the first two treatments of chemotherapy in the same month. However, after completing her second treatment, Cassandra ran away to avoid having to receive further treatment.

Upon her return, Cassandra continued to refuse treatment.

DCF then petitioned the court again. After hearing testimony from Cassandra’s doctors, the DCF demanded Cassandra be removed from her home, taken into their custody and forced to receive the chemotherapy against her will.

Cassandra and her mother appealed the decision. They claim that the state should recognize its “mature minor doctrine,” a provision that deems that deems that certain minors are capable of making major decisions on their own.

Michael S. Taylor represents Cassandra’s mother and argues, “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.'”

“That really ought to be up to Cassandra. It ought not to be for the state to jump in and say ‘well, regardless of your decision, we think we know better,'” said Taylor.

Mr. Taylor argues that there is a fine balancing act going on here, one between a serious need for treatment and her right to refuse that treatment.

“There are a lot of ways the state recognizes that people who are under 18 can be mature enough to make very important decisions,” said Taylor.

Not surprisingly, Taylor points out that in Connecticut one can drive a car at 16, murder their unborn baby at 18 without parental consent and that you can be charged as an adult if you commit a crime while under the age of 18.

I do agree that this is no place for the state to jump in. I also agree that it is Cassandra’s body. On top of that, I think I would question whether her mother is acting appropriately in this manner. Is there no parent out there that loves their child enough to want to do whatever they could to provide the care they needed, even if they didn’t want it?

How often, as a child, my parents provided certain care that I didn’t want because it hurt or was uncomfortable. I’m glad they did it, but they didn’t need the state sticking their nose in our family’s business.

“When experts — such as the several physicians involved in this case — tell us with certainty that a child will die as a result of leaving a decision up to a parent, then the Department has a responsibility to take action. Even if the decision might result in criticism, we have an obligation to protect the life of the child when there is consensus among the medical experts that action is required,” countered the DCF.

It’s almost comical the level of hypocrisy the state puts out. I can tell DCF that it is with complete certainty that when a young woman enters an abortion clinic that they are not dealing with their own body only, but the body of another person made in God’s image and the procedures performed inside those clinics will certainly end the life of a child. However, I don’t see them taking a stand in front of abortion clinics and demanding court orders against underage girls or adult women from murdering their babies, do you? The fact is that they promote such criminal actions.

This isn’t about “constitutional rights.” It’s about proper parenting, taking responsibility and valuing life. While I agree that the state is rather whimsical when it comes to its determination of ages for various ethical and unethical things (abortion), this really is none of their business and they have already shown that they don’t care about life, as demonstrated in their abortion policies. My advice to mom is to love her daughter enough to get her the treatment she needs despite what she “wants.”

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