Air Date: January 8, 2015
Host: Vic Eliason
Vic began this edition of Crosstalk by presenting listeners with details regarding chemotherapy and his own experiences with it. He described it as a poison that destroys fast growing cells such as cancer. The problem is that this also destroys cells that are good for the human body such as blood cells. Side effects include but are not limited to the numbing of toes and finger tips along with the loss of hair.
With that background in place, Vic went on to present details from Fox News regarding a 17 year old named Casandra who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in September of last year. The recommended treatment for her disease includes chemotherapy but she decided she didn’t want to undergo that process and her mother supported her in the decision.
Last November a trial court granted a petition of the Department of Children and Families for an order to have temporary custody of Casandra and direct her mother to provide and cooperate with medical care under DCF’s supervision as recommended by attending doctors.
Casandra and her mother began complying with the order as Casandra received her first two treatments in November. Then she ran away from home to avoid further treatments.
Upon returning she refused treatment. At a hearing where Casandra’s doctors testified, the trial court ordered that she be removed from her parents home and remain under DCF custody and also authorized the DCF to make all necessary medical decisions for her.
In an appeal, Casandra and her mother claimed that unless it can be found that they are incompetent, the trial court violated their constitutional rights in allowing the DCF to substitute its judgment for theirs and permitting DCF to force Casandra to receive medical treatment against her will.
They also noted that the state should recognize the mature minor doctrine. This requires that before the court can force a 17 year old to receive medical treatment against their will, it must first determine that the minor isn’t sufficiently mature to be legally allowed to make their own medical decisions.
The Connecticut Supreme Court upheld a prior ruling that Casandra cannot refuse chemo treatments. The state argued that Casandra lacked competency which extended to maturity and that they did not believe she understood the severity of her situation.
Should the court be allowed to override the decision of a 17 year old girl who is about to turn 18, especially over the authority of her parents? Many listeners stepped up to participate in this critical Crosstalk discussion.