Tag Archives: Department of Children and Families

UPDATE: Connecticut Supreme Court rules teen must continue chemotherapy

The Connecticut Supreme Court has ruled a teen must continue to undergo chemotherapy to fight her cancer, despite her wish to not undergo treatment.

The story posted earlier this week described a 17-year-old named “Cassandra C.” in court papers, who was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. She, with the support of her mother, Jackie Fortin, refused to undergo treatment, but the state of Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families was granted temporary custody of Cassandra so they could force chemo on the teen.

A legal battle ensued over the right for the teen to refuse the treatment, but the Supreme Court of Connecticut has ruled in favor of the DCF.

The chemotherapy treatment Cassandra is undergoing is believed to offer her an 85 percent chance of survival, according to medical experts who testified at the trial. However, these same experts said if she continued to refuse treatment, the teen would likely be dead within two years.

“This is her decision and her rights, which is what we are here fighting about,” said Fortin. “We should have choices about what to do with our bodies.”

Fortin and Cassandra have been asking the courts to recognize the “mature minor doctrine” which would allow a minor who shows the maturity of an adult to be able to make choices in the same capacity as an adult. The Courts ruled, however, Cassandra is not mature in this regards and the doctrine does not therefore apply to her.

Peter Johnson Jr., a legal analyst for FOX News, has said the family in this instance is wrong to think Cassandra can simply refuse treatment, given she is a minor. “The state of Connecticut has an obligation to prevent suicide. If she does not get this treatment, this is a form of suicide, and frankly the American Civil Liberties Union is complicit in her death if she dies,” said Johnson.

Since being under the custody of the DCF, Cassandra has undergone the chemotherapy and doctors have said she is responding well to it.

John E Tucker, the assistant Connecticut attorney general, told NBC News, “To interrupt that treatment would be devastating, even more devastating than delaying the treatment in the initial instance.”

“She knows I love her and I’m going to keep fighting for her because this is her decision,” said Fortin, according to NPR. “I know more than anyone, more than DCF, that my daughter is old enough, mature enough to make a decision. If she wasn’t, I’d be making that decision.”

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

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.