09:27 GMT15 July 2020
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    Is it considered negligence to allow a teenager to decide how she wishes to have her healthcare handled? The Connecticut Supreme Court will take up the issue for the first time.

    A 17-year-old girl and her mother are entangled in a legal battle with the state of Connecticut, after the teen refused to go through chemotherapy treatment. 

    “Cassandra C.,” as she is known in court documents, was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma, a cancer that affects the Lymphatic System in the body. This highly treatable form of cancer, with a high recovery rate, is often eliminated with chemotherapy. Despite the recommendations in favor of the treatment by the Children’s Connecticut Medical Center, “Cassandra C.” chose to not go through with it out of fears that it would do as much harm to her body as the cancer. 

    Jackie Fortin, mother of “Cassandra,” said in a video posted on the Hartford Courant’s website, “She knows the long-term effects of having chemo, what it does to your organs, what it does to your body. She may not be able to have children after this because it affects everything in your body. It not only kills cancer, it kills everything in your body.”

    The Department of Children and Families took custody of “Cassandra” and began to forcibly give her treatment, which according to the Hartford Courant, has increased her likelihood of survival from 80% to 85%. Her doctor testified in a trial hearing that resulted in the DCF taking her away. 

    The family will appeal the decision in the Connecticut Supreme Court on Thursday, on the grounds that the DCF is taking “Cassandra” away without first determining the parents to be negligent, and that this denies them their constitutional rights. The family also wants the court to recognize the Mature Minor Doctrine, which allows minors deemed mature enough to make their own healthcare decisions to do so. States that include this statute are Arkansas, Nevada, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Maine. 

    “Cassandra’s” attorney Michael S. Taylor told Fox CT,  “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.”

     

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