17-year-old with cancer refuses chemo, state forces treatment

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HARTFORD, Conn. -- The Connecticut Supreme Court will decide whether state officials were right to force a 17-year-old girl to undergo chemotherapy against her and her mother's wishes.

Justices will hear arguments Thursday in the case of the girl known in court documents only as Cassandra C.

Court documents say she was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in September and didn't want treatment — a decision her mother supported.

“My daughter doesn’t want to die and I don’t want her to die," Cassandra's mother Jackie Fortin told WTIC. "So people out there think that I’m letting her do a death sentence and I’m not and neither is she. We are saying, these are her rights, these are her constitutional rights that have been taken away and not only that, the family has been separated at a time that it should not be."

A trial court judge in November granted temporary custody of Cassandra to the state Department of Children and Families, which has forced the girl to undergo what officials call life-saving chemotherapy.

Cassandra's public defender says she should be allowed to make decisions about her body under the "mature minor doctrine" recognized by other states.

State officials say they have a responsibility to protect Cassandra's life.

Fortin tells WTIC she’s losing sleep while worrying about the outcome.

“The biggest thing people don’t understand is: this is not a death sentence. It’s not a suicide. It’s about rights,” Fortin said.


  • Diane

    The mother and Cassandra C have every right to refuse chemo therapy and its a sad statement that the nanny government is forcing their way into this family’s decision. Cassandra is not a victim of child of abuse. This is the family’s right to choose the path of treatment. My prayers are with this family .

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