Cancer-stricken children and teens who decline chemotherapy are at the center of a debate over who controls treatment when the patient is a minor.
Here are four children who asserted the right to withhold consent and who declined chemotherapy for religious or other personal reasons.
1. Cassandra Callender
The 17-year-old Connecticut girl sought to discontinue chemotherapy in 2015 and fought a pitched — and ultimately losing — legal battle with her state's Department of Children and Families.
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Along the way she penned a defiant op-ed in her local newspaper, the Hartford Courant, writing that decisions
about the length and quality of her life were not the state's to make: "I am a human — I should be able to decide if I do or don't want chemotherapy. Whether I live 17 years or 100 years should not be anyone's choice but mine."
2. Starchild Abraham Cherrix
Cherrix became a cause celebré at age 15 in his home state of Virginia, where "Abraham's Law," named for him, was passed in 2007 to lower to 14 the age at which minors could petition for the right to refuse medical treatment, The Washington Post reported
3. Jacob Stieler
The parents of a 10-year-old Michigan boy, Jacob Stieler, were charged with medical abuse in 2011 for taking their son off chemotherapy to treat a rare bone cancer, MLive reported
. The Stielers said they had stopped the IV treatment because it was sickening their son and making him suicidal. A judge threw out the charge, and the family has continued to document their experience at a website, Hope for Jacob
4. Makayla Sault
In January 2015, a Native American girl from Ontario, Canada, who had refused chemotherapy after falling ill with leukemia, died at age 11, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported
. Makayla Sault of the Ojibwe tribe, with the support of her family, had opted instead for alternative medicine including traditional indigenous remedies.
URGENT: Should States Be Allowed to Make Health Decisions for Your Children?
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