washingtonpost.com
Assembly Gives 14-Year-Olds A Say on Key Medical Care

By Richmond Notebook
Saturday, February 24, 2007

Virginia lawmakers passed a bill called "Abraham's Law" yesterday after agreeing that 14 is the appropriate age for a teenager with a life-threatening condition to have a hand in making medical decisions.

The bill is named after Starchild Abraham Cherrix, 16, who won a court battle last summer to forgo chemotherapy and instead treat his lymphatic cancer with alternative medicine.

A judge had threatened to force Abraham to take conventional treatments and to take him away from his parents, who faced jail for allowing him to end chemotherapy and use alternative treatments. A compromise allowed Abraham to give up chemotherapy as long as he was treated by an oncologist who is board-certified in radiation therapy and interested in alternative treatment.

In certain circumstances, parents would be allowed to refuse medical treatment for a child without facing charges of neglect, according to the bill.

-- Associated Press

Bill to Tighten Use of Eminent Domain Advances

Bills that make it tougher for governments to take private property to be used for private development projects have cleared the House of Delegates and Senate.

The measures arose to blunt a June 2005 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a case from New London, Conn., that the city could take several private homes through eminent domain to make way for a hotel and convention center.

A measure from Del. Robert B. Bell (R-Charlottesville) that the House approved was passed by the Senate 33 to 3. But amendments send it back to the House and an uncertain fate. It was amended to preserve the right of governments to condemn blighted property.

Sen. Patricia S. Ticer (D-Alexandria) said she had heard homeowners in her district express alarm about the inability of a city to clean up such areas. "I walked and talked to people. Their foremost concern was the run-down property in their neighborhood that was reducing their property values," Ticer said.

-- Associated Press

Protection of Suicidal Students From Ouster Passes

The legislature has passed a bill that would prevent public universities and colleges from dismissing or punishing students solely for attempting to commit suicide or seeking mental health treatment for suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

Under the bill, which both chambers passed unanimously, universities could set policies for dealing with students who are a danger to themselves or to others and whose behavior is disruptive.

Del. Albert C. Eisenberg (D-Arlington), the bill's sponsor, said it responds to several cases in which students sued their universities for suspending them after trying to kill themselves or seeking treatment for depression. The measure awaits the signature of Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D), who has not indicated whether he will sign it.

-- Associated Press

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company