Connecticut’s top court on Thursday rejected a request by a teenager diagnosed with cancer to halt the state-ordered chemotherapy treatments she has been receiving, saying her rights had not been violated.
The court’s seven justices said the 17-year-old, referred to as “Cassandra C.” in court papers, and her mother had not demonstrated a good reason to overrule a lower court’s ruling that supported a decision by the state Department of Children and Families to take her into custody so she would receive treatment for what doctors call an aggressive but treatable cancer.
Cassandra was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in September and after surgery failed to rid her of the cancer, underwent two rounds of chemotherapy before asking that the treatments be stopped. She ran away from home to avoid further treatment, the court noted.
“She has not been deprived of her due process rights and we agree that Cassandra’s conduct proves she is not mature based on any standard,” Chief Justice Chase Rogers said at a hearing in Hartford.
A lower court upheld the state’s right to intervene, while the teen and her mother, Jackie Fortin, argued that she should be treated as a “mature minor,” who has the legal right to reject medical care if she does not want it.
The court declined to rule on whether the teen was a “mature minor” allowed to reject medical treatment. Other states’ laws recognize that concept, but it is not law in Connecticut.
It is not clear why the teen and her mother oppose the continued treatment, although Fortin said in a statement her daughter had to be strapped down during recent chemotherapy treatments.
Doctors say in court documents the teen has an 85 percent chance of survival with the chemo treatments but if left untreated faces a “near certainty of death within two years.”
(Editing by Scott Malone and Bill Trott)