A teen is told she has to receive chemotherapy by the state

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Zach McAuliffe
Zach McAuliffe is a University of Dayton alumni with degrees in journalism and English. He wants to present people with all the facts they need to make informed decisions on the world around them. He also enjoys Shakespeare and long walks on the beach with his puppy Lily.

A Connecticut teen who was recently diagnosed with cancer is being forced by the state to undergo chemotherapy treatment.

The 17-year-old girl, who has been identified in court papers as “Cassandra C.”, was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma, a rare form of cancer, in September 2014. Doctors recommended she undergo a series of chemotherapy treatments, but Cassandra refused with the support of her mother, Jackie Fortin.

She has always—even years ago—said that if she was diagnosed with cancer, she would not put poison into her body,” said Jackie, according to NBC Connecticut

Once she refused treatment, Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families became involved by petitioning for, and receiving, temporary custody of the teen and by saying, according to FOX CT, the teen needed the treatment and she would receive it.

“Following a hearing at which Cassandra’s doctors testified, the trial court ordered that she be removed from her home and that she remain in DCF’s care and custody,” read court papers according to CBS Connecticut. “The court also authorized DCF to make all necessary medical decisions on Cassandra’s behalf.”

Cassandra ran away from the hospital she was placed in shortly after she had received the first two chemo-treatments.

Since receiving the treatments, Cassandra and Jackie argued forcing chemotherapy on Cassandra was a violation of their rights to choose treatment or not.  “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,’” said Jackie.

Michael Taylor, Jackie and Cassandra’s attorney, said the decision should not be a decision the state’s government gets involved in. “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. 

The Connecticut Supreme Court will hear this case Thursday, but until then, Cassandra must stay in the hospital and continue the state mandated treatment program.

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