July 30, 2014

Medina
Intermittent clouds
72°F

Attorney to Supreme Court: Hear appeal from Amish family

COLUMBUS — A nonprofit attorney on Monday urged the Ohio Supreme Court to reconsider its decision to not hear the case of a hospital that sued an Amish family to force them to get treatment for their 11-year-old daughter’s cancer.

The justices voted last month to decline accepting the case. Justices Maureen O’Connor, William O’Neill and Terrence O’Donnell voted to take the case, but were outvoted by justices Sharon Kennedy, Paul Pfeiffer, Judith French and Judith Ann Lanzinger.

The vote came just days after Akron Children Hospital attorney and nurse Maria Schimer relinquished her court-granted “limited guardianship,” which had allowed her to make medical decisions for the girl, Sarah Hershberger.

The family’s attorney, Maurice Thompson of the libertarian 1851 Center for Constitutional Law in Columbus, said the case shouldn’t end with Schimer’s resignation.

Thompson wrote in his motion filed Monday that failure to resolve the case would set a bad precedent that could allow a lower court to appoint “any person” at “any time” to override parental rights and apply for medical guardianship.

Thompson argued the girl’s parents, Andy and Anna Hershberger, of Homer Township, stopped chemotherapy for their daughter not because they oppose it, but because they believed the treatments were killing her.

He said the short- and long-term effects of treatment included her hair falling out, fatigue, nausea, bleeding, infections, infertility, organ damage and an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease and other cancers.

That’s why the girl’s parents opted to stop chemotherapy in April, Thompson said.

According to Medina County court documents, the family began trying natural medicine like herbs and vitamins, and Thompson said they went to other countries and states to get treatment there. The girl is doing well and recovering, Thompson said last month.

However, the former guardian said last month that there’s no proof they saw other physicians. Schimer said the girl may appear healthy, but still may be sick.

Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or nglunt@medina-gazette.com.