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Judge denies lawyer guardianship of Amish girl with cancer

Sept. 5, 2013 at 8:01 AM

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Sept. 5 (UPI) -- An Ohio judge ruled a lawyer may not have legal guardianship over a 10-year-old Amish girl whose parents stopped her chemotherapy treatment for leukemia.

Former Probate Judge John J. Lohn Tuesday denied Akron Children's Hospital's attempt to give an attorney, who is also a registered nurse, limited guardianship over Sarah Herschberger, whose parents, Andy and Anna Herschberger, stopped her cancer treatment, the Medina County (Ohio) Gazette reported Wednesday.

The girl had head, neck and kidney tumors when her parents agreed to chemotherapy earlier this year, but the side effects from the drugs prompted her family to turn to natural remedies including herbs and vitamins, instead of chemicals.

Chemotherapy shrank the tumors, but in June Sarah began treatment with natural medicines. Doctors say she could die within a year without chemotherapy.

Lohn had previously ruled Sarah's parents had the right to make medical decisions for her in July when the hospital first sued for temporary guardianship over the girl.

He stood by that decision in Tuesday's ruling. He said if he gave the lawyer guardianship over Sarah, it would be a slippery slope against parents' rights in general.

"It would allow grandparents to force a grandchild to attend private school or a hospital to circumcise a newborn baby or a school to put a child in vocational classes -- all over the objection of the child's parents," Lohn wrote in his Tuesday ruling. "If a probate judge can be convinced such things would promote a child's interests, the parents would be powerless to prevent them."

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