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Amish family’s fight over chemo ends

TOLEDO, Ohio — A court-appointed guardian can drop her attempt to force an 11-year-old Amish girl with leukemia to resume chemotherapy, a judge has ruled.

The decision Thursday is a big step in bringing an end to a monthslong fight between the family of the girl, Sarah Hershberger, and a hospital. The struggle began when her parents decided to halt the treatments because they feared chemotherapy was killing her.

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The family fled their farm in northeast Ohio’s Medina County and went into hiding four months ago to avoid having the treatment forced on the girl. Maria Schimer, a lawyer who is also a registered nurse, was given the power to make medical decisions for Sarah after an appeals court ruling in October said the beliefs and convictions of the girl’s parents can’t outweigh the rights of the state to protect the child.

But Schimer said she dropped the effort because it became impossible to monitor Sarah’s health or make any medical decisions for her after she left home. Medina County Probate Judge Kevin Dunn accepted her resignation as guardian Thursday.

Doctors at Akron Children’s Hospital believe Sarah’s leukemia is treatable, but they said this past summer that she would die within a year if she halts chemotherapy. The hospital went to court after the family decided to stop chemotherapy and treat Sarah with natural medicines, such as herbs and vitamins.

Maurice Thompson, the Hershbergers’ lawyer, said the family returned to their home in an Amish community about 40 miles southwest of Cleveland a few weeks ago, according to The Medina County Gazette.

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