Will State of Ohio Allow Parents to Terminate Daughter’s Chemo?

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In a difficult case from Akron, Ohio the Amish parents of a 10-year-old girl with leukemia, have found themselves in a court battle over who has the right to make life and death medical decisions.

The little girl was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma in April 2013 and was being treated with chemotherapy, when she begged her parents, Andy and Anna Hershberger, to terminate the treatment. Her parents were advised by doctors that with extensive chemo, over a two-year period, their daughter had an 85% chance of recovering from her illness.

This cancer is highly aggressive and when diagnosed the child is usually at stage 4.

Torn by their daughter’s pleas and the debilitating side effects they observed, they terminated the treatment in June and ended up defending the State’s court application to appoint as a temporary guardian, Maria Schimer, a former nurse, who is also an attorney, to make medical decisions in the child’s best interests.

The couple told the judge they were using holistic and herbal remedies together with the power of prayer. Medical experts testified that without treatment the girl had less than a year to live.

After hearing the evidence, Medina County Judge John Lohn ruled there was not a “scintilla” of evidence that the girl’s parents were unfit or incapable of making appropriate decisions for their daughter and dismissed the guardianship application.

However, an appeals court saw it differently, holding that it did not matter if the parents were fit and capable of making a reasonable decision, the only issue was whether the appointment of a guardian was in the child’s best interests.

The case will now go back to Judge Lohn for a new hearing. In the meantime, the chemo treatments have been resumed, pending a fresh ruling.

From an ethical perspective, the debate centers on the tension between respect for the parent’s wishes and religious beliefs, on the one hand, and the life of a young child, who may not survive without the treatment recommended by her doctors. The child’s desire to stop the chemo is understandable, but a child of ten is not capable of understanding the ramifications of her request.

In the child’s best interests, her parents must choose Life.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Divorce Rates Double For Over 50’s

GEO CASUALThere are lots of divorce statistics floating around, some are accurate, but others are not. For example, it’s a myth that fifty per cent of Canadian marriages will end in divorce. Those are Americans numbers, that have recently dropped to 45%, while here in Canada it is closer to 40%.

However, a new study out of Ohio’s Bowling Green University from the Center for Family and Demographic Research tells a new tale.

Researchers Susan Brown and I-Fen Lin relied on 2009 data from the American Community Survey compiled by the United States Census Bureau. The question asked was: “Whether you were divorced or widowed during the calendar year 2009?”

Here’s what they found:

1. The divorce rate for persons over 50 has doubled since 1980;

2. One in four divorces involves spouses over 50-years-old;

3. Blacks and Hispanics are more likely to divorce than Caucasians;

4. Disabled persons are more likely to divorce or be widowed than non-disabled persons;

5. The less education you have, the more likely you are to be divorced or widowed.

Sobering facts that support the upward trend called “grey divorce”. Theories for the increase in divorce among older people range from our longer life spans to the financial means of women who work outside of the home in increasing numbers.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Baby Boomers Embrace Divorce

An unprecedented phenomenon is taking place among baby boomers. In 1970 only 13% of adults over 50 were divorced, separated or never married. Today 33% of adults between 46 and 64 are divorced, separated or never married, according to census data compiled by Bowling Green State University in Ohio. As well, experts believe those numbers will increase as younger people approach their 40’s and 50’s, keeping in mind the lower rates of marriage among this age group.

The ramifications of this new reality are enormous for society in general. While older spouses typically rely on their spouses for support and care, the elderly single will look to government programs to assist them.

Statistics show that unmarried boomers are five times more likely to live in poverty than their married counterparts. They are also three times more likely to need food stamps, disability payments and social assistance.

Experts offer the following reasons for the surge in grey divorce:

1. People are living longer and married couples in their 50’s or 60’s are more reluctant to spend the rest of their lives together in a bad marriage;

2. As women become more financially independent they are more willing to leave a situation that their mothers and grandmothers could not, for purely economic reasons;

3. Baby boomers who experienced the sexual revolution of the 1960’s and 1970’s feel less social pressure to marry or stay married;

4. Being divorced or single as an older adult no longer holds the stigma it once did.

In our throw-away, secular society it is not surprising that the marriage covenant between husband and wife no longer has any value. However, spouses who have been abused verbally, emotionally, or physically can never be faulted for getting out to protect themselves and often, their children.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang