Cassandra Fortin Can’t Say ‘No,’ Connecticut Supreme Court Allows State To Force Teen To Undergo Chemo

The case of Cassandra Fortin has divided opinions across the country. The question of whether a state or any government has a right to force you to receive medical treatment has been answered in Connecticut. The Connecticut supreme court, ABC News reports, ruled that the state did not violate Cassandra’s rights when it forced her to take chemotherapy treatments for her Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Seventeen-year-old Cassandra Fortin, or Cassandra C., as court documents originally had her listed, was diagnosed with cancer this past September. The Connecticut case before the state supreme court was to determine whether or not Cassandra Fortin was “mature enough” to make the decision to refuse chemo on the basis that she “did not want to put poison” into her body, the Inquistr recently reported. Her mother, Jackie Fortin, supported her daughter’s decision.

Initially when Cassandra refused the treatment, with her mother’s consent, she was forced by the state to undergo treatment. Fox News reported that after two treatments she ran away in November. She was found two weeks later, and the Connecticut Department of Children and Families took temporary custody of the Cassandra. Jackie Fortin was ordered to cooperate with the aforementioned chemo treatments, administered under the agency’s supervision.

The main issue before the courts was whether or not Cassandra is mature enough to make the decision to refuse chemo on her own. Several states support a mature minor doctrine. The doctrine essentially says that a minor, typically between 13 and 17, can refuse a medical treatment if they “understand and appreciate” the consequences. In nine months, on Cassandra’s 18th birthday, she will be permitted to refuse the treatment.

Her mother argued that the state of Connecticut was denying Cassandra’s rights. She said that she was not intending on letting her die, but looking into alternative forms of treatment. She told ABC News that it’s Cassandra’s decision and rights.

“This is her decision and her rights, which is what we are here fighting about. We should have choices about what to do with our bodies.”

Since federal agents retrieved Cassandra in December, she has been confined to a room in Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford. When her forced medical treatment began, they installed a port in her chest to administer the chemotherapy. Assistant attorney general Charles E. Tucker stated in the proceedings that it would be even more devastating to stop Cassandra Fortin’s chemo at this time, then when she wanted to stop it before, NBC News reports.

“To interrupt that treatment would be devastating, even more devastating then delaying the treatment in the initial instance.”

The Fortins and Cassandra’s lawyer are considering their next step at this time.

What are your thoughts? Do you believe a person should be allowed to refuse medical treatment? At what point should they be allowed to refuse a medical treatment?

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[Image Via Wikimedia Commons]