A Connecticut teenager who tried to reject life-saving chemotherapy for Hodgkin’s lymphoma can be forced to undergo the treatment anyway, the state’s Supreme Court ruled Thursday.
“This court agrees with the trial court that, even assuming that the mature minor doctrine applies in this state, the respondents have failed to meet their burden of proving under any standard that Cassandra was a mature minor and capable of acting independently concerning her life threatening medical condition,” Thursday’s order reads.
The teen’s mother has said that her daughter “knows the long-term effects of having chemo” and doesn’t want to put “poison” in her body.
“She may not be able to have children after this, because it affects everything in your body,” her mother, Jackie Fortin, said in a video posted on the Hartford Courant’s Web site. “It not only kills cancer, it kills everything in your body. She knows this.
“This is her human rights — her human constitutional rights — to not put poison in her body. Her rights have been taken away. She has been forced to put chemo in her body right now, as we speak. These are her rights that have been taken away. She does not want to [put] poison in her body.”
“Under this circumstance — when there is medical consensus that action must be taken or the child will die — the Department has a clear and urgent responsibility to save the life of this child,” Connecticut Department of Children and Families told CNN in a statement earlier this week.
The court Thursday heard arguments from lawyers for Cassandra and her mother, Jackie Fortin, who supports her daughter’s decision to reject chemotherapy treatments. The justices clearly struggled to find ground for overruling the lower court and sending the case back for another hearing, as requested by Cassandra and her mother.
Assistant Public Defender Joshua Michtom, representing Cassandra, said the question was whether, despite an encouraging prognosis, “a smart and knowledgeable 17-year-old (can) make the same choice, for better or worse, than she would be able to make without state interference nine months from now, when she turns 18.”
Michtom did not immediately return a phone message from The Washington Post left on Thursday afternoon.