An Interesting (Though Sad) Development in the Rifqa Bary Case

Rifqa Bary, about whom I blogged before, is the 17-year-old girl from a Muslim family in America who ran away from home, claiming her father had threatened to “hurt her, kill her or send her back to Sri Lanka” because she had converted to Christianity. A police investigation apparently concluded that the girl’s charges were unfounded, though obviously there’s still a factual dispute between the girls and the parents on this. She is now in foster care, awaiting her forthcoming 18th birthday. Here’s the latest item, as summarized by Prof. Howard Friedman at the Religion Clause blog (which is a must-subscribe if you’re interested in religion and the law):

Rifqa has had a bout with uterine cancer. She underwent surgery, and her physician recommended that it be followed by 45 weeks of chemotherapy even though she is disease-free according to available imaging techniques. Her parents support that recommendation, but Rifqa, who turns 18 next week, opposes that course of treatment, though she will continue to consult her doctors. Yesterday an Ohio juvenile court magistrate ruled that Rifqa is mature enough to make the treatment decision for herself, and said the court cannot order treatment because Rifqa’s health is not in immediate danger. Rifqa’s parents claim the decision to end chemotherapy came after Rifqa attended a faith-healing event. Rifqa’s attorneys, however, say she went to a “prayer conference” shortly after her diagnosis. She had multiple surgeries and began chemotherapy, but it made her weak and sick.