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Case Of Connecticut Teen Refusing Chemotherapy Headed To Court

Editor's Note: This article was updated on Jan. 7, 2015.

HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) - 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 Jackie Fortin's daughter, Cassandra.

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

"She doesn't want toxins in her body," Fortin told CBS2's Don Dahler. "She does not want people telling her what to do with her body and how to treat it."

The toxins are "killing her body. They're killing her organs. They're killing her insides," Fortin added. "And it's not even a matter of dying. She's not going to die."

Cassandra's family searched for alternative treatments and second opinions, but a judge ordered Cassandra to undergo chemotherapy.

After just two treatments, the teen ran away from home. The Connecticut Department of Children and Family Services then placed Cassandra into protective custody.

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.

"Without me standing by her side while she's losing her hair, getting sick, throwing up," Fortin said. "This is not right."

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

"We really do have the expert testimony, the expert advice of physicians who are saying unequivocally if she does not get the treatment that she needs, she will die," said Kristina Stevens with the Department of Children and Families.

The family filed an emergency appeal with the state Supreme Court in December.

"The state should have to hold a hearing and decide whether she's mature enough before it can force her against her will to have treatment," said Michael Taylor, Fortin's attorney.

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(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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