News came Friday that an 11-year-old Amish leukemia patient will not be forced to undergo chemotherapy, pending court approval (article no longer online).

Maria Schimer filed Friday to resign her limited guardianship over Sarah Hershberger:

But the guardian, Maria Schimer, decided to drop the effort because she doesn’t know where Sarah is now and it has become impossible to monitor her health or make any medical decisions, said Clair Dickinson, an attorney for Schimer.

“It didn’t make sense to drag this on any longer,” he said.

It sounds like the hospital is on board with the move:

Dickinson said an attorney for the hospital told him that if the court allows Schimer to withdraw from the case, the hospital won’t continue its legal push to get chemotherapy for the girl.

The family fled the country in September, later returning to “an undisclosed location outside Ohio”.  Though the family is of a traditional Amish community, this doesn’t mean that they refuse conventional medicine:

Sarah’s father said the family doesn’t oppose modern medicine and that they didn’t make their decision based on religious reasons.

They ended chemotherapy because it was making her too sick and they feared it could end up killing her, the family’s attorney, Maurice Thompson, said.

Approval is expected to be given next week.  It sounds like the state side of this matter realized it was a lost cause to pursue chemo.  Reports from Sarah’s side are that she is well following “natural treatments, including vitamins and herbs.

No news will be good news

Following the move, Schimer’s attorney wished Sarah well, thought not without a hint of skepticism:

“If she is, that’s great,” Dickinson said.

“On the other hand, the undisputed medical testimony was that she would die in six months to a year without treatment.

“If she’s not cancer-free, it may be too late for chemotherapy to help her.”

The case has predictably gotten a lot of attention and has stirred emotion on both sides of the divide.  Backers of the Hershbergers have applauded the decision:

“The Judge’s approval of this Resignation will pave the way for the family’s return home, which will allow Sarah to receive the family’s preferred treatment under the best possible conditions,” continued Thompson. “We hope that this Resignation also seals one of the darkest moments for parental rights and health care freedom in the State’s history: a court ordering a little girl to be ripped away from her loving and competent parents, and forced to submit to procedures that could kill or sterilize her, simply because her parents sought to first pursue a less invasive treatment option – – one the hospital disagreed with because it did not itself provide it.”

Skeptics from the medical community are less optimistic about her chances:

If the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law is correct and the parents now seem nearly certain to prevail, Sarah Hershberger will almost certainly die, unless she happens to be one of the lucky minority of children with this form of cancer whose tumor not only went into complete remission after two rounds of chemotherapy, but doesn’t recur in a more resistant form, as most such cancers do. As I’ve pointed out time and time again in cases like this, oncologists don’t use a two year course of chemotherapy because they like to torture children. They use a two year course of chemotherapy because that’s what it takes to produce the 85% five year survival that the current standard of care for lymphoblastic lymphoma can produce.

Debates aside, if this is the last we hear of it, that will probably mean good news for Sarah.

Amish-made cheese

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