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MEDINA -- A judge in Ohio says a court-appointed guardian can drop her attempt to force an 11-year-old Amish girl with leukemia to resume chemotherapy.

The ruling is a big step toward bringing an end to a months-long fight between Sarah Hershberger's family and a hospital. The fight began when her parents decided to halt the treatments because they feared chemotherapy was killing her.

The ruling issued Thursday by Medina County Probate Judge Kevin Dunn also helps clear the way for Sarah and her parents to return to their farm in Homer Township in northeast Ohio.

The family fled and went into hiding four months ago to avoid having the treatment forced on the girl.

Maria Schimer, an attorney who's also a registered nurse, was given the power to make medical decisions for Sarah after an appeals court ruling in October said the beliefs and convictions of the girl's parents can't outweigh the rights of the state to protect the child.

But Schimer said she decided to drop the effort and resign as guardian because it became impossible to monitor Sarah's health or make any medical decisions for her after she left home.

Doctors at Akron Children's Hospital believe Sarah's leukemia is treatable, but they said this past summer that she would die within a year if she halts chemotherapy. The hospital went to court after the family decided to stop chemotherapy and treat Sarah with natural medicines, such as herbs and vitamins.

The girl and her parents, who normally live in an Amish community about 40 miles southwest of Cleveland, sought treatment outside the United States and have been staying out of state and would not return until the guardian is removed, their attorney has said.

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