Connecticut Supreme Court: teen can be taken from mother for forced chemotherapy

17-year-old Cassandra C. (Photo courtesy of Jackie Fortin)
17-year-old Cassandra C. (Photo courtesy of Jackie Fortin)
17-year-old Cassandra C. (Photo courtesy of Jackie Fortin)

HARTFORD, CT — A 17-year-old girl has been taken away from her mother and forced to endure unwanted, risky chemotherapy treatments that she absolutely opposes. The teen has been turned into a ward of the state and has been detained against her will in a hospital room for weeks without any choice in her own life-altering medical decisions or future.

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Cassandra C.’s difficulties began in September 2014 when she became ill. Her mother, Jackie Fortin, took her to Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, where she was diagnosed with Stage 3/4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

CCMC doctors surgically removed Cassandra a portion of Cassandra’s lymph node, and then pushed her to take chemotherapy drugs. But the strong-willed teen was opposed to the treatment, which she viewed as unacceptably dangerous.

Source:  Wikipedia
A collection of chemotherapeutic drugs. (Source: Wikipedia)

“She has always — even years ago — said that if she was diagnosed with cancer, she would not put poison into her body,” Ms. Fortin explained to NBC Connecticut.

Despite doctors’ objections, the mother and daughter left the hospital “to seek a second opinion” in another state. CCMC doctors proceeded to get the government involved. They called Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) alleging “parental medical neglect.”

DCF went to Superior Court and got a court order that Cassandra would be forced to endure chemotherapy. Initially, Cassandra and her mother complied, and she was subjected to two compulsory chemo treatments in November 2014.

Cassandra, growing weak and discouraged, “subsequently ran away from home to avoid further treatment,” according to the state Judicial Branch summary.

When Cassandra returned, she continued to refuse treatment, the summary says.

After a hearing in the Child Protection Session of Superior Court, at which Cassandra’s doctors testified, the trial court “ordered that she be removed from her home and that she remain in DCF’s care and custody.”

Ms. Fortin said that in a letter to the Superior Court judge, Cassandra wrote that “no one has let her breathe” since the state took over her health care.

The court made Cassandra into a ward of the state and authorized DCF “to make all necessary medical decisions on Cassandra’s behalf.”

Against her will, Cassandra was subsequently hospitalized and not allowed to leave. Her mother says Cassandra “put up a fight” and was physically strapped to a bed, then forced to endure unwanted surgery and chemotherapy.

Cassandra has been detained in a hospital room for approximately four weeks and counting (since December 2014), according to the Hartford Courant.

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Ms. Fortin appealed the state’s decision, and claimed that the trial court violated their rights, and that Connecticut’s common law and public policy dictate that DCF cannot force Cassandra to receive medical treatments over the informed objections of the patient and her mother.

The appeal also calls for Connecticut to recognize the “mature minor doctrine” — observed by 17 other states — and require that, before a court can force a 17-year-old to receive medical treatment against her will, it must first determine that the minor is not sufficiently mature to be legally allowed to make medical decisions for herself.

“Everyone agrees it’s a serious illness, but you’re talking about a fundamental question: Does she have a say in what happens to her body?” said attorney Michael Taylor, who represents Cassandra’s mother.

On January 8th, 2015, the Connecticut Supreme Court rejected the family’s claims and upheld the lower court’s decision to detain Cassandra for forced chemotherapy. The scope of the ruling affirmed whether “DCF (is) properly authorized to make medical decisions on (the) child’s behalf, and whether (a) 17-year-old must receive medical treatment against her wishes.”

Even though Cassandra will turn eighteen years old in approximately 8 months, the court proclaimed that she was “not mature by any standard” since she took steps to avoid the earlier stages of state control over her body. According to the court, neither she nor her mother had any rights violated.

The bureaucrats signaled appreciation that they would be allowed to continue forcibly administering chemo to Cassandra against her will.

“We thank the Connecticut Supreme Court for its extremely prompt decision, which will allow us to continue to provide the medical treatment that will save Cassandra’s life. This is a curable illness, and we will continue to ensure that Cassandra receives the treatment she needs to become a healthy and happy adult,” the DCF said in a statement.

RELATED: Amish family forced into hiding to avoid court-ordered chemotherapy treatment

Cases of families broken apart for the purpose of forced medication happen with uncomfortable frequency in many hyper-interventionist states in the USA. Since the courts have upheld forced medical interventions of this type, only a loud public outcry accompanied by organized legislative solution will be able to remove the established powers that have enabled such horrific abuses.


17-year-old Cassandra C. (Photo courtesy of Jackie Fortin)
17-year-old Cassandra C. (Photo courtesy of Jackie Fortin)


Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy
Phone: (860) 566-4840
Email: Contact form

Connecticut Department of Children and Families
Phone: 860-550-6300
Facebook: Link

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