Speed Reads

See you in court

Teenager with cancer fighting to stop medical treatment

On Thursday, lawyers will meet in a Connecticut court to argue for and against a 17-year-old girl's right to forgo medical treatment for cancer.

Known as "Cassandra C." in court papers, the teenager has Hodgkin lymphoma. Doctors say her survival rate is 80-85 percent with chemotherapy, and she will die without it. Cassandra says she believes chemo is "poison," and wants to discontinue treatment. Her mother, Jackie Fortin, supports her decision, telling NBC News: "My daughter does not want to poison her body. This is her constitutional right as a human being."

Fortin thinks that when "the timing is right," Cassandra will ask for chemo, but right now "she is backed up against a wall and forced to do something." Cassandra was diagnosed in September, and in December, child protective services became involved after she missed several doctor's appointments and stopped going to tests. She was removed from her home, and is now in a monitored room at Connecticut Children's Medical Center.

Cassandra is nine months shy of turning 18, and her public defender will argue that "maturity doesn't happen overnight," and his client should be able to decide for herself if she wants chemo regardless of her age. "You don't go to sleep a 17-year-old knucklehead and wake up an 18-year-old sage," Joshua Michtom told NBC News. "The law has recognized that in a lot of ways. We're just asking that it recognize it in this other way."