A Connecticut teen is being forced to undergo chemotherapy against her will

After 17-year-old Cassandra in Connecticut was recently diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma, cancer of the lymph system, she decided to refuse chemotherapy treatment against her doctors recommendations. But now she’s being forced to undergo treatment against her will. Doctors reported Cassandra’s single mother Jackie Fortin for neglect, which led to a court giving the state Department […]

After 17-year-old Cassandra in Connecticut was recently diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma, cancer of the lymph system, she decided to refuse chemotherapy treatment against her doctors recommendations. But now she’s being forced to undergo treatment against her will.

Doctors reported Cassandra’s single mother Jackie Fortin for neglect, which led to a court giving the state Department of Children and Families temporary custody of Cassandra – meaning they now have the authority to make medical decisions for her.

The state Supreme Court is taking on her case today to decide whether or not Cassandra, who will only be a minor for eight more months, is mature enough to make her own medical decisions.

“This is not about death,” Fortin says. “My daughter is not going to die. This is about, ‘This is my body, my choice, and let me decide.’ ”

Unfortunately doctors disagree with Fortin, saying she will die if not treated, and with proper treatment she would have a 85 percent chance of survival, according to NPR.

Kristina Stevens, an administrator with Connecticut’s DCF, says the doctors’ professional opinions led the state to get involved. “We had the benefit of experts who could tell us with great clarity if in fact we don’t do something, if the system doesn’t react and respond, this child will die,” Stevens says.

“The general rule for adults is that you can say no to treatment no matter how life-saving it may be,” one of Cassandra’s attorneys, Joshua Michtom says. “You can say no even to helpful treatment. If she were 18, no matter what anyone said, it would be her choice to make.”

Though Connecticut’s Supreme Court should rule soon, it doesn’t guarantee that they will specifically decide whether or not she can refuse life-saving treatment. What could happen is the case then gets evaluated by a lower court that will take a closer look with the help of mental health experts to determine if she’s mature enough to make medical decisions herself.

Unless something changes with the proceedings, Cassandra will be in DCF custody until she turns 18.

This is a challenging case to have a firm opinion on because being so close to 18, it does seem like she should have some say over what she does with her own body. But she could be saved. Which is more important in a case like this, saving a life or granting her the freedom to choose?