Pharyngula

This is a tragic story of the malign effects of religious ignorance.

An 11-year-old girl died after her parents prayed for healing rather than seek medical help for a treatable form of diabetes, police said Tuesday.

Everest Metro Police Chief Dan Vergin said Madeline Neumann died Sunday.

“She got sicker and sicker until she was dead,” he said.

Vergin said an autopsy determined the girl died from diabetic ketoacidosis, an ailment that left her with too little insulin in her body, and she had probably been ill for about 30 days, suffering symptoms like nausea, vomiting, excessive thirst, loss of appetite and weakness.

The girl’s parents, Dale and Leilani Neumann, attributed the death to “apparently they didn’t have enough faith,” the police chief said.

They believed the key to healing “was it was better to keep praying. Call more people to help pray,” he said.
The mother believes the girl could still be resurrected, the police chief said.

But wait! That isn’t the punchline. Read this and weep.

The girl has three siblings, ranging in age from 13 to 16, the police chief said.

“They are still in the home,” he said. “There is no reason to remove them. There is no abuse or signs of abuse that we can see.”

Their sister is dead of stupidity and neglect; she died painfully with their dumb-as-rocks parents hovering over her, chanting to their sky fairy. And this brain dead cop sees no sign of abuse? What is it, does calling it religion make it invisible?

Comments

  1. #1 Cyde Weys
    March 26, 2008

    I wish I could be as incredulous about it as you are, but in this ridiculous American society, religion always seems to get a free pass. So many things that would otherwise be criminal are okay so long as they are done in the name of religion. It really makes you doubt the existence of that whole separation of church and state thing.

  2. #2 Uber
    March 26, 2008

    No signs of abuse huh?

    Well in America this has about become par for the course. It really should be actionable to not take a minor for medical treatment.

    I suspect these people are probably fervent anti choice people as well. So you can’t abort them but if them get sick post birth they won’t treat them.

    Family first, they support the ‘traditional’ family!

  3. #3 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 26, 2008

    Resurrected? wtf

    Other than the Zombie son I didn’t think that us mere peons could be resurrected? Is there some other denomination’s version of weirdness that says that Christians can be resurrected?

    Is she just referring to the “afterlife”?

    Either way I can’t see how

    There is no reason to remove them. There is no abuse or signs of abuse that we can see.

    could possibly be. Is neglect no longer considered abuse?

  4. #4 Lago
    March 26, 2008

    I am from New Bedford MA. the site of the Robidoux trial:

    http://www.neirr.org/attcompro.htm

  5. #5 T_U_T
    March 26, 2008

    wwww wait a minute. Wasn’t it YOU who defended the “right” of parents to kill their children by preventing doctors to rescue them ?
    Jehowah witnesses, blood, transfusion, do you rememer ?
    .
    And now. Suddenly it is abuse.
    So. Make up your mind. Either parents can make any decisions about their children, included ones that kill them, or they can not.

    ( prediction : blizzard of insults )

  6. #6 Carlie
    March 26, 2008

    Yet Scottish Social Services will take kids away just because they’re overweight.

    Boggles the mind, all of it.

  7. #7 CalGeorge
    March 26, 2008

    The Religion Exemption:

    Stupidity perpetrated in the name of [insert name of sky fairy here] is to be respected and, what the heck, admired. All individuals tempted to mockery should contact Matt Nisbet for important lessons in framing.

  8. #8 Schmeer
    March 26, 2008

    I had a ‘WTF’ moment reading that story this morning. I got to that line and wanted to scream at the cop who thought the remaining siblings were probably ok.
    I mean, what the heck? They don’t have diabetes yet. They must be perfectly safe, right?

  9. #9 Andrew
    March 26, 2008

    This breaks my heart :(…truly makes me so sad :(.

    wow Im an emo atheist…

  10. #10 Ric
    March 26, 2008

    No abuse? This is the definition of abuse! Religion kills.

  11. #11 Kseniya
    March 26, 2008

    I wonder why these people who refuse medical attention for their dying children even bother with houses, electricity, cars, books, prepared foods, clothing, or any other manifestation of mankind’s ingenuity at all. I mean, WTF? Just throw them all out in the snow to fight it out with the bears and wolves as God (apparently) intended!

    Sickening. They should be up for negligent homicide, and they’re not even being cited for neglect?

    Ok, not yet anyways, but it could happen:

    The girl’s death remains under investigation and the findings will be forwarded to the district attorney to review for possible charges, the chief said.

    I’m doing my best to avoid saying something uncharacteristically inhumane.

  12. #12 Brad Hudson
    March 26, 2008

    # 5 — No insults, but I think you overlooked the language of the JW post that distinguishes it from this case:

    “And until the child has enough self-awareness to actually want to live, I think that is a decision parents have to be allowed to make. If they want that particular baby, they should be allowed to elect to have major surgery, but if they don’t, they should be permitted to allow its condition to run its course, unless the outcome is likely to be survival with serious damage.”

    You may quarrel with the distinction, but I don’t see inconsistency.

  13. #13 X. Wolp
    March 26, 2008

    coincidentally I’m having some diabetic ketoacidosis as I read this … that being said it should be noted that this kid probably starved to death above other things which makes it even harder to see how this is not child neglect

  14. #14 Ale
    March 26, 2008

    “So. Make up your mind. Either parents can make any decisions about their children, included ones that kill them, or they can not.”

    I think that this parents indeed have the right to do what they did – what they lacked was sanity, and the capacity of parenting.

    This only underscores how deeply damaging the religious mindset is. And how blind people can be when it comes to the “popular” religions. If these people were members of a less popular cult, the response would have been much stronger.

  15. #15 ennui
    March 26, 2008

    Remember that diabetic ketoacidosis is not covered under King Jesus’ medical miracle plan. Just snake bites and drinking poison. The only people with a worse plan are grad students.

    IIRC, PZ’s statement about parental decisions expired after the child was one year old, after which society should intervene. This case surely qualifies as brutal neglect.

  16. #16 Ale
    March 26, 2008

    After reading a bit on diabetic ketoacidosis, I retract – this people did not have the right to do this. The child could have chosen to be cured before the parents would have to decide on its place.

  17. #17 Rey Fox
    March 26, 2008

    I suppose the cops just want to avoid the time and money-wasting lawsuit that would surely ensue if they had the other kids taken away when they were not directly being abused. Doubtlessly they’re just going to have to wait until one of them gets sick.

  18. #18 Rob
    March 26, 2008

    You know, sometimes a sign from god is a burning bush. Other times it’s a doctor saying, “take this pill, you will get better.”

  19. #19 raven
    March 26, 2008

    Faith healers killing their kids happens a lot. Few get reported and fewer prosecuted. Under California law it is considered child abuse to deny medical care to minors. Looks like Oregon may start prosecuting them as well.

    About time.

    Oregon prosecutors review girl’s death, faith-healing law

    Last Update: 3/22 5:54 pm

    OREGON CITY, Ore. (AP) – Prosecutors are reviewing the death of a 15-month-old girl a medical examiner says could have lived if she had been treated with antibiotics, but was not because of family religious beliefs.

    The Oregonian newspaper quoted Dr. Christopher Young, a deputy state medical examiner, as saying that Ava Worthington died March 2 at home from bacterial bronchial pneumonia and infection.

    the newspaper said that if prosecuted, Ava Worthington’s parents would be the first members of Oregon City’s Followers of Christ, a fundamentalist Christian denomination, to face charges for failing to seek medical treatment for a gravely ill child as required by a 1999 law.

    When The Associated Press called the number listed for the church today the person who answered hung up.

    The church came to Oregon early in the 20th century. When members become ill, fellow worshippers pray and anoint them with oil. Former members say those who seek modern medical remedies are ostracized.
    Oregon prosecutors review girl’s death, faith-healing law

    Last Update: 3/22 5:54 pm

  20. #20 L
    March 26, 2008
  21. #21 Mold
    March 26, 2008

    If you did this activity with an animal, you’d be looking at real jail time. This is a horrible way to die. In years past, when people were told they were diabetic, they suicided to prevent such an outcome. Ask MTM about it or Wiki the subject. Faith, my @ass. These are child abusers and should have no unsupervised contact with any minor.

  22. #22 aiabx
    March 26, 2008

    I think it’s admirable. All those fundamentalists who don’t believe in science and education? Here’s a set who don’t just talk the talk, they walk the walk. No hypocrisy here, these are people who really are taking a stand for a man who died on a cross.
    Too bad evolution isn’t quite as impressed as I am.

    Excuse me while I go punch something.

  23. #23 Hairhead
    March 26, 2008

    I can see religious nuttiness prevailing over the short term, say a JW parent refusing blood transfusion for a child immediately after a car accident, but to (emphasis) *watch your child die over a period of a month* and simply to repeat actions which do not work over and over, prolonging and expanding the agony of your child . . . . words fail me.

    I hope the other kids either 1) run away from home or 2) apply for empancipation. They certainly have grounds for the latter.

  24. #24 Eric Paulsen
    March 26, 2008

    Why is it that when we see an obviously crazy person railing against the CIA whoa are listening to his thoughts and complaining about the infiltration of society by reptiloids from planet Zox we call it like it is – He is a nut. Yet when some horror is visited on us by a nice suburban housewife who talks to her invisible friend “god”, believes that the earth is only 6000 years old, and that 2 of EVERY species of animal plus their food fit on a single water craft we call it “NORMAL”?!?! Question that and YOU are the crazy one.

    In America we have one and only one approved delusion and that is religion.

  25. #25 Tim Murtaugh
    March 26, 2008

    Testing.

  26. #26 Kseniya
    March 26, 2008

    ( prediction : blizzard of insults )

    Why, you… you… you blithering snowman!!

    :-p

    (The entry to which T_U_T refers is here.)

  27. #27 Will E.
    March 26, 2008

    “What is it, does calling it religion make it invisible?”

    PZ, don’t be disingenuous. You know that the answer is, quite literally, yes.

  28. #28 andyo
    March 26, 2008

    wwww wait a minute. Wasn’t it YOU who defended the “right” of parents to kill their children by preventing doctors to rescue them ?
    Jehowah witnesses, blood, transfusion, do you rememer ?
    .
    And now. Suddenly it is abuse.
    So. Make up your mind. Either parents can make any decisions about their children, included ones that kill them, or they can not.

    ( prediction : blizzard of insults )

    Posted by: T_U_T | March 26, 2008 12:12 PM

    Wow what a load of creationist tactics (not that I know if you’re one, but sure as hell seem to behave like one). Dishonesty aplenty. Care to (mis)quote where PZ did that? You know what? I’ll do it for you. From the post you’re referring to (emphasis mine):

    I think the doctor was way out of line. This is a case in which the parents were fully aware of the situation and knew that the fetus would die at birth, and elected (for screwy reasons, admittedly) to not pursue extraordinary measures to save its life. They had not deluded themselves into believing medical intervention was unnecessary and that magic would heal the child, they had resigned themselves to its death.

    He even explicitly stated the difference between these two cases before this last one ever happened, and your dishonest post.

    Also,

    ( prediction : blizzard of insults )

    But of course, predict something obvious will happen, and you’re right. That’s exactly how the religious types I know (catholics) work. Maybe it’s a christian thing. “They will tell you that we’re lying to you, but you have to keep the faith” and that sort of crap that surprisingly, and sadly, works for a lot of people.

  29. #29 raven
    March 26, 2008

    Needless to say, the girl was murdered by religious fanaticism and stupidity.

    She was a diabetic of which there are millions in the USA.

    Easily treatable, if she were put on insulin like all the others, she would have had a long and relatively normal life.

  30. #30 elik
    March 26, 2008

    I grew up in this city, and when I heard the parents owned a coffee shop, I knew exactly which one.

    The first and last time I went to their coffee shop, I was waiting for my drink and decided to peruse the bookshelf. It was full of creationist literature. I almost said something to the person working, but instead, decided never to come back.

    It’s funny how these things go hand-in-hand.

  31. #31 CB
    March 26, 2008

    I wonder what the police reaction would have been if the parents had said, “Well we just really didn’t want to do anything about it.” Surely, children’s services would intervene and remove the other kids from the home. This is precisely what they did. Nothing. Yet they get a pass because of prayer? The apathy excuse would not only net them the loss of their kids, but possible prosecution as well.

    Indeed, this is religion being given the benefit of the doubt where it deserves none.

  32. #32 Tony
    March 26, 2008

    re: Rob #18

    That reminds me of a joke I tend to remember in these situations:

    A couple is in their house as a flood begins to ravage their town. A rescue crew in a firetruck comes to them and offers to take them to safety. “No, no”, the couple says, “the Lord will help us.”

    A while later as the waters rise, another rescue crew comes along in a boat and offers to take them to safety. “No, no,” insists the couple, “God will save us.”

    As the waters rise higher, a rescue crew in a helicopter comes along and begs the couple to let them be taken to safety. “No, no,” protests the couple, “we know that God will save us.”

    Eventually the waters overtake the couple and they drown. Upon reaching Heaven, the couple wails to God, “Oh God, we prayed for rescue, why did you not save us?”

    And God says, “I sent you a truck, a boat, and a helicopter! What the hell else did you want??”

  33. #33 ddr
    March 26, 2008

    Well, the only possible positive outcome of this is that the older children see and understand what happened and when their children get sick, they will go to the doctor. I hope they are able to see that the parents asked god to save her and she died. If they had asked a local doctor it would have been a trivial matter to save her.

  34. #34 hyperdeath
    March 26, 2008

    Sadly, we see yet more naive and pointlessly-inflammatory religion bashing. Your shrill abuse will merely alienate moderates and other potential allies. You need to step aside, and give the floor to people capable of framing the issue in more constructive terms.

    A properly framed criticism would be as follows:

    Religion is good. This story is very sad. Religion is wonderful. Poor parents. Religion is beautiful and sublime. Perhaps the parents could have done something differently? Religion is truly awesome.

  35. #35 locksmyth
    March 26, 2008

    ddr said: Well, the only possible positive outcome of this is that the older children see and understand what happened and when their children get sick, they will go to the doctor. I hope they are able to see that the parents asked god to save her and she died. If they had asked a local doctor it would have been a trivial matter to save her.

    You have a much greater faith in humanity then I do, I hope it plays out that way. However, due to my cynical side, I fear that ‘faith’ has already blinded them and they will grow up believing their parents simply didn’t have enough faith, ‘it was God’s greater plan’, or it was a test of faith.

    The christian meme has a thousand defensive mechanisms against failed pray.

  36. #36 dh
    March 26, 2008

    I see this is a privacy issue. Parents and guardians of minors have the right to make medical decisions or indecisions regardless of the consequences – good or bad.

    The police have no business being involved.

  37. #37 PennyBright
    March 26, 2008

    Hideous and nauseating, and legal.

    Wisconsin is one of 39 some states that has a disallows neglect or abuse charges when medical care is denied for religious reasons. It is also one of 19 that allows a religious defense against charges of felony crimes against children.

    Such state laws have their origin in the federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 1974, which specifically states “…a parent or guardian who does not provide medical treatment to a child because of the parent’s religious beliefs is not considered, for that reason alone, to be a negligent parent or guardian.”

    While the the original CAPTA exmpetion language was rescinded in 1983, it was re-authorized in a modified form in 1996.

    All due to extensive lobbying by the First Church of Christ, Scientist. Whose practices are (as famously noted) neither Christian, nor scientific.

    Please folks — talk to your state government, talk to your federal representatives, and lets get these laws changed.

    Because what happened here may be legal, but it isn’t right.

  38. #38 PZ Myers
    March 26, 2008

    Wasn’t it YOU who defended the “right” of parents to kill their children by preventing doctors to rescue them ?

    No. I defended the right of parents to refuse extraordinary treatment to salvage a fetus. This was an 11 year old girl. One of my major objections to so-called “pro-life” idjits is that they are unable to distinguish the difference between a walking, talking, thinking, caring human being and a blastocyst. I think they’re the ones who devalue human life.

  39. #39 Bruce
    March 26, 2008

    I see this is a privacy issue. Parents and guardians of minors have the right to make medical decisions or indecisions regardless of the consequences – good or bad.

    The police have no business being involved.

    FAIL.

    And please, don’t procreate.

  40. #40 X. Wolp
    March 26, 2008

    #35 : the parents have the right to let their children die of starvation and dehydration ? I must have missed that memo

  41. #41 Larry
    March 26, 2008

    I understand GOP legislators in Florida are pushing a new law that prohibits parents from being discriminated against for allowing their children to die as a result of medical neglect if they prayed to the baby jesus to heal their child and, for reasons known only to god, the baby jesus chose not to do this.

    Apparently, this has something to do with religion (well, fundy christianity, anyway) trumping the laws of the state and with medicine being held to be “just a theory”.

  42. #42 severalspeciesof
    March 26, 2008

    Tony (comment#31):
    I used to think that joke was a fairly funny joke when I was a christian. Now I think it just reveals how stunningly stupid the idea of prayer is. Prayer, in that joke, reveals just how much of a nothing it is. One might get a direct response (a.k.a. miracle) or one might just get an indirect response, or no response at all as is the case in this poor 13 year old’s death.

  43. #43 severalspeciesof
    March 26, 2008

    Oopps, meant 11 year old, not 13.
    sorry.

  44. #44 jb
    March 26, 2008

    Is it more acceptable when doctors allow a child to die because the parents have no insurance? For insurers to refuse to cover treatment (so doctors turn their backs)? How many of the fundamentalist rank and file have insurance? Are they represented among the ~40 million uninsured? The 200 million underinsured? What about insurers who refuse policies altogether because a child may have a “pre-existing condition?”

    Sometimes praying is the only treatment available. Sometimes it’s stubborn stupidity. But eradicating religion is never going to eradicate either stupidity or death. At least, not in this civilization where rationing is a matter of caste. Seems like there are very real issues of people – even very young people – dying every day in this country for want of basic medical care. It might be more inspiring for the so-concerned scientists and their geek fan clubs to tackle some of those rather than parrot right-wing talking points blaming the victims.

    But that might be real work. It’s much easier to sit smug in your jammies and pontificate about isolated incidents while Rome burns all around.

  45. #45 Matt Penfold
    March 26, 2008

    I would not even want an animal to be left to die this girl was, and anyone who did treat an animal like that should never be allowed to keep an animal again.

    These parents have shown themselves to be totally unsuitable to be allowed to raise children. The idea that the only parents have a right to say how their children are treated is so misguided as to be bordering on the insane. We do not allow parents to inflict physical damage on their children as a punishment for example, and any parent who did so would deserve a visit from the authorities. Why should they be allowed to let a child die from an easily treatable disease ? This was not a case of a child who has long be suffering from a disease for which there now little prospect of a cure, we are talking a child for whom regular injections of insulin would have allowed her to live he life almost as normally as a non-diabetic.

  46. #46 Teresa
    March 26, 2008

    #33

    Actually, I thought framing was about how the question was approached, not about conceding the question.

    So, my take on “framing” the argument would be to have some respected religious leader who believes that children should recieve medical treatment first argue that from a Biblical perspective using techniques that most Christians veiw as Sound Doctrine.

    It probably will also not convince them, but it has a better chance than an atheist simply calling them crazy would…because it uses a frame they understand to propose a more realistic approach.

    If your goal is to convince them to abandon religion entierly, then neither “frame” is going to acheive that goal. If your goal is to convince them to stop killing their children with inaction, one has a better chance than the other.

    Personally, I can see why just calling them stupid and crazy is more appealing, though…’cause they are. They are crazy, and they express it in religious language.

    What little rationality there is in religious thought, no matter how skillfully applied, is likely to convince them any more than rationality or just plain outraged insults from the non-religious.

  47. #47 Doug
    March 26, 2008

    And yet we are expected to respect this religion even when it leads to the murder of people through medical neglect. Damn, I wish I had the morals that only religion can provide so I can excuse such behavior.

  48. #48 Matt Penfold
    March 26, 2008

    Teresa,

    How about just having a sensible law that would mean when parents totally abdicate their responsibilities, as happened here, then the state steps in to prevent the abuse continuing ?

  49. #49 s1mplex
    March 26, 2008

    jb, that is some grade A concern.

    Thank you!

  50. #50 raven
    March 26, 2008

    These parents are stupid and evil. I suppose it is OK to pray real hard for their kid to get well.

    When that didn’t work, they should have just said, god is busy or we aren’t praying hard enough. Better luck next time and let’s go see a doctor now.

    Prosecute them. Under any states laws, anyone over 18 is free to refuse medical treatment. Let the kids grow up and make their own decisions.

    I’m not aware of any biblical rational for killing your kids through stupidity and neglect anyway. When the 10 commandments were actually 10 in number, there was one about not killing people. The fundies threw that one out.

  51. #51 Eric Paulsen
    March 26, 2008

    It might be more inspiring for the so-concerned scientists and their geek fan clubs to tackle some of those rather than parrot right-wing talking points blaming the victims. – jb

    Or maybe, just maybe, some of us have the capability to do both? You know – on the one hand I can call you an ignorant empty-headed lack wit and ask you to never add to the conversation again then I write to my elected representative urging them to protect free speech and support net neutrality. See what I did there? I criticized you but supported your rights to be an idiot!

    It’s how I roll.

  52. #52 Matt Penfold
    March 26, 2008

    JB,

    It may have escaped your notice but PZ has been vocal in the past in criticising the US healthcare system, and has spoken out in favour of some form of universal healthcare as found in the civilised world.

  53. #53 James C.
    March 26, 2008

    If these were truely fundie parents, they might recall Leviticus 13, which says that you are suppose to bring sick people to the priest. If they had done that, the priest might have been smart enough to get the girl to a real doctor.

    It’s the incredibly stupid story about parents who believed in God and messed up their own religion.

  54. #54 Bill
    March 26, 2008

    I thought death through inaction was still murder…

    If I find a man bleeding in the street and do nothing to help him (call 911, apply first aid, or at least do anything aside from simply ignoring his injuries) and he dies, am I not guilty of a crime?
    Check the law books there coper. I’m pretty sure that the parents are quilty of murder by neglect.
    At least the article states:
    “The girl’s death remains under investigation and the findings will be forwarded to the district attorney to review for possible charges, the chief said.”
    Let’s hope that Wausau has a good district attorney.

  55. #55 MartinM
    March 26, 2008

    It might be more inspiring for the so-concerned scientists and their geek fan clubs to tackle some of those rather than parrot right-wing talking points blaming the victims.

    Nobody blamed the child. The parents are not victims, but perpetrators. Try to keep up.

  56. #56 Dianne
    March 26, 2008

    I defended the right of parents to refuse extraordinary treatment to salvage a fetus. This was an 11 year old girl.

    An 11 year old girl who, if she had gotten simple treatment that has been routine for the past 50 years or so, might have lived another 60-70 years, in reasonably good health. Diabetes is a nasty disease, we can’t cure it, and a number of the complications are difficult to treat. But DKA is NOT one of them. There is a better than 99% chance that, if this girl had been taken to the ER even a day before she died, she would have lived. I just hope that her siblings realize what is going on and get out before the parents kill them too.

  57. #57 Azkyroth
    March 26, 2008

    Actually, I thought framing was about how the question was approached, not about conceding the question.

    You’d think, but conceding the question (or just chickening out on addressing it) is exactly what its proponents keep demanding we do.

  58. #58 anon
    March 26, 2008

    [blockquote]Is it more acceptable when doctors allow a child to die because the parents have no insurance?[/blockquote]

    Yeah… I’m pretty sure this never happens. Most, if not all, hospitals will treat an individual regardless of whether or not they have insurance. I remember when I was at the ER there were signs all over the place that said just that.

  59. #59 locksmyth
    March 26, 2008

    @ #52
    Unfortunately this type of behavior is often encouraged by the priest.

  60. #60 Dianne
    March 26, 2008

    Is it more acceptable when doctors allow a child to die because the parents have no insurance?

    JB, I’m not sure what country you’re talking about where this happens, but in the US it is illegal for a physician to refuse to treat a patient with an emergency situation–and DKA is always an emergency–because of their ability to pay or perceived ability to pay. I agree that it is a national disgrace that many children (and adults) do not have proper coverage, but this isn’t a situation in which it is relevant. Refusing to treat DKA is malpractice and any doctor or hospital which turned this child away would be clearly liable.

  61. #61 Niobe
    March 26, 2008

    “I see this is a privacy issue. Parents and guardians of minors have the right to make medical decisions or indecisions regardless of the consequences – good or bad.

    The police have no business being involved.”

    I give your libertarian troll a 7/10.

    Oh hey my kid fell from the shed and broke his skull. Oh well, no biggie!
    “Neglect” is a farce made up by the Social Services cabal!

  62. #62 CalGeorge
    March 26, 2008

    “Call more people to help pray.”

    You’re all missing the point. This death is YOUR fault because NONE of you prayed for her.

    For shame! Start praying!

    People are dying while you futz around on this blog!

  63. #63 gort
    March 26, 2008

    If I find a man bleeding in the street and do nothing to help him (call 911, apply first aid, or at least do anything aside from simply ignoring his injuries) and he dies, am I not guilty of a crime?

    IIRC (big assumption)from law scholl many years ago, the Model Code (reflected in many US state statutes), do not place an affirmative duty to help someone unless you have some other underlying obligation. It’s a matter of avoiding putting one person in a non-voluntary position of servitude (i.e., slavery). However, if you caused the injury, left the other person in a worse position, were obligated by guardianship, parenthood, professional relationship, then it’s another matter.

  64. #64 Bill the Cat
    March 26, 2008

    In Barstow, California, in 1973, Larry and Lucky Parker had a diabetic son, Wesley. They left their church and went shopping around for one more to their liking, finally finding an Assemblies of God preacher who would advocate prayer — and stopping all medical treatment.

    The Parkers waited until the kid went into a coma, then they called their preacher. After he saw the result, he advised them to call the paramedics. The kid soon died.

    There was a trial, but the parents never went to prison. They had to pay some fines, and that was it. (There was a TV movie made, based on this, but reworked as a Hollywood story.)

    Nobody in their right mind would believe the Parkers were on the level. They used religious nuttery as an excuse to kill their kid. If Wesley’s ailment wouldn’t have killed him if left untreated, we all know what the parents would do: find an exorcist to torture the kid to death.

    Most Americans are religious, which is to say most of the people around us are batshit crazy.

  65. #65 Hap
    March 26, 2008

    If the faith of the parents requires either passive withholding of necessities from their children or more actively killing them, then there is an appropriate place for them to practice their religion – in jail. Perhaps they will have some time to ponder the meaning of what love for their children actually means.

    My right to practice my religion using my fist stops where your face begins.

  66. #66 craig
    March 26, 2008

    “I understand GOP legislators in Florida are pushing a new law that prohibits parents from being discriminated against for allowing their children to die as a result of medical neglect if they prayed to the baby jesus to heal their child and, for reasons known only to god, the baby jesus chose not to do this.”

    They SHOULDNT be discriminated against. They should be prosecuted no more harshly (and no less harshly) than anyone else who kills their kid.

  67. #67 ndt
    March 26, 2008

    Actually I can see why the other kids weren’t removed. If they don’t have diseases that will kill them without medical intervention, then their parents aren’t neglecting them. The kid they neglected is already dead. Once the parents are arrested for killing that child, as I fervently hope they will be, then a new home will have to be found for the other children.

  68. #68 Liam
    March 26, 2008

    NO SIGN OF FUCKING ABUSE???????

  69. #69 Mike O'Risal
    March 26, 2008

    See, a simple test of faith could have taken care of this before the kid died.

    If you’re a parent thinking of relying on prayer instead of medicine to treat a sick child, you must test yourself to make sure your faith is strong enough beforehand.

    Take a loaded handgun, put the muzzle in your mouth, and question whether your faith is strong enough to persuade God to stop the bullet from splattering your brains on the wall behind you. If you can’t pull that trigger, your faith isn’t strong enough to save your kid, either.

    If you pull the trigger and note the presence of skull and brain fragments nearby, you were simply arrogant. Your faith wasn’t strong enough after all, and you’ve just saved your kid from your own bad decision-making.

    If God stops the bullet, then by all means withhold treatment.

    If you think this all sounds pretty damned stupid, as I do, TAKE YOUR KID TO THE DOCTOR, YOU MORON.

  70. #70 Pete
    March 26, 2008

    Poor kid, what a horrible way to die. These people are obviously incapable of looking after their remaining kids, I hope they lock the parents away for a long, long time.

    As as for the chief of police:
    “There is no abuse or signs of abuse that we can see.”
    Other than lack of breathing?!?

    What a lump head, he should be removed from his position, ASAP.

  71. #71 Richard Eis
    March 26, 2008

    Actually I think that the police chief was saying that this stupidity (even though it should be a side note in the Darwin Awards) was isolated and that since the other kids don’t have diabetes, they are safe from this happening again (technically).
    It probably isn’t worth it in the long run to separate the family actually. For anyone concerned. I agree with the police chief…Sorry but this is one of those things where there is no quick solution or punishment and then everyone’s happy. In fact if you think about it…this is just alternative medicine taken to the extreme.

  72. #72 Bill
    March 26, 2008

    Gort,
    Thanks for the clarification.
    So if the “man” were, oh say under 18, and I were, oh let’s say his father, then I would be guilty of a crime?

  73. #73 ennui
    March 26, 2008

    This story is not about access to healthcare. The little girl would not have been turned away by an emergency room for critical care. And Wisconsin has BadgerCare Plus, a state-sponsored health insurance program for children whose parents do not have access to private insurance.

    This is a story about religious lunatics, and the legal system that lets them off the hook for letting their child die.

  74. #74 Dianne
    March 26, 2008

    since the other kids don’t have diabetes, they are safe from this happening again (technically).

    Unless they develop diabetes. Or get appendicitis. Or Hodgkin’s disease. Or any number of other common or uncommon illnesses that can strike previously healthy children without warning. Then they will die too unless the parents actually managed to learn something from this episode. Which, given that they were talking about how they failed to pray hard enough, I doubt.

  75. #75 Randy
    March 26, 2008

    Some of the comments here have been unbelievable. “… just alternative medicine taken to the extreme…”? “I see this is a privacy issue. Parents and guardians of minors have the right to make medical decisions or indecisions regardless of the consequences – good or bad.

    The police have no business being involved.” WTF??? The parents also have the responsibility for to not allow their child to die from a perfectly treatable illness!!!!! Since when is prayer a recognized life-saving medical procedure? What about killing the child as a result of disciplinary action? Does that rate as a privacy issue? I can tell you that up here in the Great White North the parents would be charged under the Criminal Code for failing to provide the necessities of life. May you not be blessed with children since you are indeed an irresponsible ass, dh! You make me SICK!

  76. #76 Leigh
    March 26, 2008

    @Tony (#33)

    I thought of exactly that same joke! We hate to joke about a child’s death, but it NAILS these parents.

  77. #77 Lilly de Lure
    March 26, 2008

    Richard Eis said:

    Actually I think that the police chief was saying that this stupidity (even though it should be a side note in the Darwin Awards) was isolated and that since the other kids don’t have diabetes, they are safe from this happening again (technically).

    Well, that will be a comfort if one of them gets appendicitis in the near future!

    Mike O’Risal said:

    If you’re a parent thinking of relying on prayer instead of medicine to treat a sick child, you must test yourself to make sure your faith is strong enough beforehand.

    Surely such a parent can be held legally incapable of giving informed medical consent on behalf of their child, given that their convictions about what will happen as a result of their actions are so flagrantly at odds with the predicted medical consequences?

    Given this inability to perform one of the major duties of parenthood, couldn’t the law intervene on the grounds that they are incompetent to look after their children, in the same way they would if they had gone insane (which arguably they have)?

  78. #78 ShavenYak
    March 26, 2008

    I wonder if these ‘tards were among those up in arms whining about the sanctity of life when Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube was removed?

  79. #79 DanioPhD
    March 26, 2008

    Funny, there have been a couple of news stories just this year about wacky woo families who starved their babies to death attempting to raise them on exclusively raw food/vegan diets. In one case the baby died at 6 weeks, in the other at 6 months. In both cases, the parents faced charges and convictions. Not surprisingly, conservative talk shows and news channels had field days with these stories. One wonders if they’ll publicly excoriate this family’s prayerful inaction just as vigorously.

  80. #80 Flaky
    March 26, 2008

    I do have to object to PZ’s characterization of the police chief. I’m certain that the police are supposed to evaluate if the (still living) children are in imminent danger when deciding whether to take them. The chief likely meant physical abuse that would put the remaining children’s lives at risk if left in their home until the social workers get on the case. I should hope that action is taken to protect the remaining children by the authorities.

    Incidentally, there was a similar case in the news just yesterday Medical examiner: Toddler died after failed ‘faith healing’

    I wonder what it would take to get parents to understand that their right to their religious or other beliefs does not trump their children’s right to be alive and healthy.

  81. #81 Maria
    March 26, 2008

    Their sister is dead of stupidity and neglect; she died painfully with their dumb-as-rocks parents hovering over her, chanting to their sky fairy.

    But the children are alive!!! That is a miracle! God exists!

  82. #82 vlad
    March 26, 2008

    “So if the “man” were, oh say under 18, and I were, oh let’s say his father, then I would be guilty of a crime?” Yup, so long as the man (under 18) is not emancipated.

    The main issue here is “duty to act” as a stranger on the street you do not have a duty to act. You have made no indication that you are responsible for the person. Making you legally responsible for the person without consent can be considered slavery. In the case of custodial parents (one or two) you have an implied duty to act. Thus having said duty to act and refusing to do so makes you negligent.

  83. #83 SteveM
    March 26, 2008

    If I find a man bleeding in the street and do nothing to help him (call 911, apply first aid, or at least do anything aside from simply ignoring his injuries) and he dies, am I not guilty of a crime?

    I hope I remember this correctly… No you are not obligated to help, and in fact it used to be that you could make yourself liable for damages if you did try to help and things didn’t turn out perfect. This resulted in many states enacting “good samaritan” laws protecting one from liability when making good faith attempts to help an injured person. Both the liability and the good samaritan laws might only apply to doctors, though. I seem to remember reading these “outrage” stories of doctors refusing to assist accident victims because of the liability issue and “outrage” stories of doctors being sued for trying to help accident victims.

  84. #84 vlad
    March 26, 2008

    “I can tell you that up here in the Great White North the parents would be charged under the Criminal Code for failing to provide the necessities of life.” No, unfortunately you are mistaken, much as it bugs the shit out of me to say it.

  85. #85 mgarelick
    March 26, 2008

    #53:

    If I find a man bleeding in the street and do nothing to help him (call 911, apply first aid, or at least do anything aside from simply ignoring his injuries) and he dies, am I not guilty of a crime?

    No, you’re not (under the predominant view), unless you have some pre-existing relationship or interaction with the victim that obligates you to help, or you are somehow responsible for putting him in the situation. Parenthood is the classic “pre-existing relationship,” so of course the parents here would be liable, unless what they did (pray) was considered adequate.

  86. #86 jb
    March 26, 2008

    anon said:

    I’m pretty sure this never happens. Most, if not all, hospitals will treat an individual regardless of whether or not they have insurance. I remember when I was at the ER there were signs all over the place that said just that.

    Dianne said:

    JB, I’m not sure what country you’re talking about where this happens, but in the US it is illegal for a physician to refuse to treat a patient with an emergency situation–and DKA is always an emergency–because of their ability to pay or perceived ability to pay.

    I’m all for necessary medical care. What I’m saying is it’s too often not available, and that has been the situation in some parts of this country for decades. For instance, my son died in a Life Flight helicopter refused permission to land at any hospital in a city of more than a million – in Florida. Which, last I checked, is still the U.S. of A.

    For people who obviously pride themselves so expansively on their superior intellect and knowledge, not knowing what’s real for millions of citizens is pretty darned lame. Doctors (and hospitals) refuse treatment all the time. Every day, all over the country. It’s not always about insurance but it’s almost always about money. They can and do rest assured that poor people have no recourse. Again, the American caste system at work.

    It is already illegal in most places for seriously ill children of JWs or CSs or any other “no medicine” religious group to fail to get medical care for those children. But only if authorities know it’s happening, and care to intervene. I presume this is one that slipped through our non-system’s mile-wide cracks – nobody cared until after the child was dead. Otherwise she would have been removed for cause and given care.

    It’s still an isolated incident which I see lots of passionate pajamahudeen up in arms about while Rome burns all around. How does your anger change anything? How many other people’s children have you saved from religion today?

    Anyone…? How many have you saved from our health [non]care system refusing to act? I thought not.

  87. #87 Joe Shelby
    March 26, 2008

    I would rather have the preacher who told them prayer “worked” that way in jail for fraud than the parents. They were brain-dead stupid, yes, but they were also intentionally deceived by someone they trusted and likely paid.

  88. #88 Matt Penfold
    March 26, 2008

    Joe Shelby,

    If they have been that damaged by exposure to their particular brand of religion then that could well support a diminished responsibility defence. However it would also seriously weaken any defence they made to retain custody of the surviving children.

  89. #89 ilex
    March 26, 2008

    Proving once again that nothing fails like prayer.

  90. #90 Blake
    March 26, 2008

    Even if the idiot cop WANTED to do the right thing in this situation and seek prosecution HE COULD NOT. See section 948.03(6) of the Wi criminal code clearly exempting precisely this kind of murderous idiocy from punishment. I quote:

    “A person is not guilty of an offense under this section solely because he or she provides a child with treatment by spiritual means through prayer alone for healing in accordance with the religious method of healing permitted under s. 48.981 (3) (c) 4. or 448.03 (6) in lieu of medical or surgical treatment.”

    http://nxt.legis.state.wi.us/nxt/gateway.dll/Prior%20Sessions/2001/stats01/15641/15646?f=templates$fn=document-frame.htm$3.0$q=%5Bfield%20folio-destination-name%3A'948.03(6)‘%5D$uq=$x=Advanced$up=1#LPHit1

  91. #91 vlad
    March 26, 2008

    “my son died in a Life Flight helicopter refused permission to land at any hospital in a city of more than a million – in Florida.” I have very serious problems with the description. First once they are on Life Flight (med flight in Boston) the only reason a hospital can and will refuse landing is that A) They are full and on divert. 2) The specific care required required is not available (ER’s full oncology can’t do shit for you). The cost of the Med Flight is usually a hell of a lot more then the care at the hospital is going to cost, unless it’s chronic condition. ER visits are typically 500 to 1000 for immediate care, helos start at 1500 per ride.

    Not saying you made it up or are full of shit, just that your missing something.

  92. #92 vlad
    March 26, 2008

    “Anyone…? How many have you saved from our health [non]care system refusing to act? I thought not.” Constantly took injured homeless and uninsured people to the ER at St. E. None were ever turned away, except when they were on divert. I mean shit I had to take a lady there with stripped dry hair, no I’m not joking she said she needed to go to the ER. No insurance and no job.

  93. #93 Matt Penfold
    March 26, 2008

    Blake,

    Looking at that legislation it seems to cover child abuse, and not unlawful killing. It does not seem to preclude arresting and charging the parents with either murder or manslaughter.

  94. #94 locksmyth
    March 26, 2008

    @#86
    That’s an entirely different issue. Yes the US health care system is horrible, people being denied medical treatment by a hospital is a really bad thing. However this is about parents that simply refused to treat their child in any way. If this child was denied medical access at the hospital we would be just as outraged, however that’s not what happened.

    Watch this video at 4:28 for how I feel about your statement. (warning very strong language) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5BR0wpkVwFA

    Actually that much of video can be quite nicely be applied to much of what you have said.

  95. #95 vlad
    March 26, 2008

    “I presume this is one that slipped through our non-system’s mile-wide cracks – nobody cared until after the child was dead.” BTW I get the feeling that you’d be equally opposed to the feds or local law regularly checking in on all children who were home schooled?

  96. #96 BlueIndependent
    March 26, 2008

    Ah, medievalness is alive and well. Is it any surprise these fools don’t see any hypocrisy or fault in themselves when they do the very things they find so questionable in others. I guarantee all these shoddy parents will see is comfort and understanding for their blind negligence. They won’t go to jail, they won’t be punished for killing their child, they’ll risk their other childrens’ lives with more stupidity.

    The Mad biologist QOTW applies thoroughly here.

  97. #97 raven
    March 26, 2008

    jb:

    “my son died in a Life Flight helicopter refused permission to land at any hospital in a city of more than a million – in Florida.”

    JB is just a troll making crap up.

    What did they expect, the helicopter was going to fly around until it ran out of fuel and crashed.

    Did you hear about the hospital that installed anti-aircraft guns on their roof? Anytime a helicopter tries to land, they just blow it out of the air. It’s worked so well they now have machine guns and antitank rockets at the door to the ER. Of course, the docs have a lot of free time to play bridge and video games now. LOL

  98. #98 Teresa
    March 26, 2008

    Matt,

    WRT having a law requiring parents to get their children treated:

    Sure! I’m all for it! Let’s get the public behined that! Oh wait…you’d have to convince them…and in order to do that you’d have to frame a convincing argument.

    back to convincing the religious (most of the people in this country, unfortunatly) to support the law.

  99. #99 Mooser
    March 26, 2008

    Shouldn’t the siblings get tested for their tendency to diabetes? Isn’t their a genetic component to diabetes that makes it important to look at the other family members/siblings?
    Perhaps I’m wrong.

  100. #100 Matt Penfold
    March 26, 2008

    “Sure! I’m all for it! Let’s get the public behined that! Oh wait…you’d have to convince them…and in order to do that you’d have to frame a convincing argument.”

    Teresa,

    I understand your point but to be honest if anyone cannot understand that letting kids die of preventable diseases it not a good thing then it is unlikely that any frame will get through to them. In order to frame, as I understand it, you need to look for commonality between the messengers and the recipients. I am not sure I want to have to have any commonality with someone who thinks that the way these parents acted is acceptable. Their behaviour is so far beyond what I find acceptable that I simply cannot connect with it in anyway.

  101. #101 vlad
    March 26, 2008

    “Of course, the docs have a lot of free time to play bridge and video games now.” No no no. The hospital saves money on targeting electronics by having the doctors play first person shooter games linked to the AA batteries.

  102. #102 Matt Penfold
    March 26, 2008

    “Shouldn’t the siblings get tested for their tendency to d
    iabetes? Isn’t their a genetic component to diabetes that makes it important to look at the other family members/siblings?
    Perhaps I’m wrong.”

    No, you are correct, there is a genetic element. It would be normal practice to test siblings (or children) of someone diagnosed as diabetic.

  103. #103 anon
    March 26, 2008

    JB: You’re full of it. A hospital would never let a child die because its parents did not have insurance or could otherwise not pay. In an emergency situation, doctors will do whatever they can do save anyone; they don’t worry about payment until later.

    If a child is slowly dying of something and the parents can’t pay, usually what happens is that they appeal to the community; fundraising ensues. Usually the treatment is paid for.

    So yeah, I agree with Raven: you’re a troll. And not a very good one, at that.

  104. #104 Kadath
    March 26, 2008

    If I find a man bleeding in the street and do nothing to help him (call 911, apply first aid, or at least do anything aside from simply ignoring his injuries) and he dies, am I not guilty of a crime?
    Posted by: Bill | March 26, 2008 1:21 PM

    As others have said, duty to act statutes are complicated, and more so for people with medical training. Duty to act for laymen is nearly always confined to cases where the injury is the result of your actions or negligence, or there is a preexisting relationship between you and the patient. The duty strengthens if you are in a supervisory or otherwise responsible position, like lab manager, or, say, parent.

    Medical personnel have stricter requirements. On the clock, they have a universal duty to act to the limits of their competence, if they can do so without endangering their own safety or that of others.

    Many states also require off-duty medical personnel to provide care, as well, sometimes in all cases, sometimes dependent on conditions. For example, in Vermont, if a paramedic displays professional insignia on their car, they are required to stop and offer assistance at accident scenes, even if they are not on duty. (This is barely enforceable, but there ya go.)

    Duty to act also requires that once medical personnel begin providing treatment, they cannot stop until they are either exhausted (happens surprisingly quickly with CPR) or someone capable of providing an identical or higher standard of care arrives on scene and takes over. Thus a lifeguard cannot step aside for someone with only community CPR certification, but must do so for paramedics.

    Good Samaritan statutes protect both laymen and professionals, though laymen have better protection. The standard in their case is good faith. Professionals are protected only if they provide care equivalent to the prevailing standard at their level of certification.

    (I’m not a lawyer, but I am a former lifeguard and EMT.)

  105. #105 Leigh
    March 26, 2008

    My heart breaks for this poor child. Clearly a case of child abuse, and I believe the parents should be prosecuted to send the message that religious freedom ends where a child’s life is at stake. I am quite happy, however, to let the parents commit no-medicine suicide at any time.

    But I have to admit that this is maladaptive behavior taken to an extreme. This subgroup can only continue to exist if it breeds at a rate high enough to outweigh the number of deaths by neglect it experiences in its sub-reproductive population. Unfortunately, the birth rate among bug-fuck nuts religious fundamentalists is indeed high enough. I am not heartless enough to be glad that their population will at least be thinned by this behavior.

    Any truly civilized society would punish such parents severely. And we should do it, even though we know that the unintended consequence will, unfortunately, be even more bug-fuck nuts citizens.

  106. #106 Fedaykin
    March 26, 2008

    #44

    “Is it more acceptable when doctors allow a child to die because the parents have no insurance?”

    At least in my state this can’t happen in this type of case. Emergency rooms are required, by law, to treat people of immediate life threatening conditions regardless of their ability to pay. I don’t know if this applies to things like a long term illness (such as Cancer) but for someone in immediate danger of death from starvation (which is what this case really boils down to) care would be provided.

  107. #107 tyaddow
    March 26, 2008

    Hey, what happened to T_U_T? I was anxious to hear those accusations defended, what with all the benevolence shown in the original comment and the veritable flurry of hateful scorn it invoked.

  108. #108 Kadath
    March 26, 2008

    Me@#104:

    I should clarify this applies to acute situations, not non-emergency chronic conditions (unless symptoms have advanced to immediately life-threatening) and the like.

  109. #109 jb
    March 26, 2008

    Not saying you made it up or are full of shit, just that your missing something.

    Oh, I’m not missing a thing, vlad. There is more to the story that you don’t need to hear, of course, but that just means YOU are missing things. You’ll have this.

    The biggest ‘duh’ in all this noise are anti-religious nutters getting all up in fingers about children of their hated enemies dying when any reasonable person can look around and see for themselves that life is cheap here in general, cheap with the wannabe scientocracy even moreso. Which scientist was it suggesting we needed an nice engineered Ebola to “take care of” overpopulation not long ago?

    Meanwhile, life is still 100% fatal. Children die every minute of every day, sometimes of abuse, sometimes of diseases or malnutrition or some cause no one can prevent. Much of the disease could be treated or cured, but it’s not because the victims are poor. Most of those children need not go hungry, but they do because they’re poor. Truth is, America has become just another Third World country – as Katrina illustrated so vividly – and people sitting at their comfy desks spewing hatred aren’t doing anything whatsoever to change that.

    The hypocrisy is overwhelming, though it serves PZ’s ego-masturbatory purposes I’m sure. I’m just almost amazed at how blind this kennel club really is – interesting like a train wreck, not particularly inspiring unless you’re given to prayer. I don’t think anyone here fits that description.

    locksmyth:

    Watch this video at 4:28 for how I feel about your statement. (warning very strong language)

    No thanks. Y’all have fun hating on ‘other’, just don’t expect all those lesser humans to be very scared by your chest-beating bravado. They’ve real issues to be concerned about. Ta.

  110. #110 raven
    March 26, 2008

    Which scientist was it suggesting we needed an nice engineered Ebola to “take care of” overpopulation not long ago?

    None. JB is still Making Crap Up. In his defense, he also seems to be bughouse crazy.

  111. #111 Saddlebred
    March 26, 2008

    I have a friend who works at the state crime lab in Wausau. If I hear anything of interest from her, I will post an update this thread.

  112. #112 jb
    March 26, 2008

    anon:

    You’re full of it. A hospital would never let a child die because its parents did not have insurance or could otherwise not pay. In an emergency situation, doctors will do whatever they can do save anyone; they don’t worry about payment until later.

    Wow. I’ll be sure to tell my son when I see him that you don’t think he’s dead. I’m sure he’ll get a big kick out of that. But I haven’t seen him in a long time. Just never came home again after that night. They told me he was dead, we had a funeral and everything, spent seven years ebroiled in lawsuits, and two wonderful, altruistic doctors haven’t been practicing medicine in all those years due to losing their licenses from our complaints and charges! What the hell were we thinking!?

    Ass.

  113. #113 vlad
    March 26, 2008

    “There is more to the story that you don’t need to hear, of course, but that just means YOU are missing things.” So your going to tell me that they took the kid up in the helo. Hovered around till he died then landed. Come one tell me that the local hospital was full case of illegal aliens and it would be more credible than the carp you are spewing.

    “Most of those children need not go hungry, but they do because they’re poor.” No that’s absolute horse shit. You want to blame the system for not shipping the food out to rural areas fine, but most of the fault lies with the parents of said poor children. There are multiple programs (wife works for one making chicken shit pay and lots of extra hours) that are specifically dedicated to helping these families get back on their feet and the kids in school.

    P.S. So where was your god who could have forced the medics to land? Where was he to prevent those poor uninsured people form getting sick?

  114. #114 Olorin
    March 26, 2008

    The level of science knowledge by the writer of the article is distressingly sub-par. Diabetic ketoacidosis is “an ailment that left her with too little insulin in her body….” Sheesh.

  115. #115 vlad
    March 26, 2008

    “altruistic doctors haven’t been practicing medicine in all those years due to losing their licenses from our complaints and charges!” Fine post the civil lawsuit information and we’ll decide for our selves. BTW why would two doctors get nailed for refusing to allow a Med Flight landing when they aren’t the ones who would be making the decision?

    To put it simply we think you are full of shit. Your cobbling together multiple stories and trying to pass them off as your own.

  116. #116 Olorin
    March 26, 2008

    Re praying to heal: There is a story about a man trapped on a rooftop in a flood. A boat came by and offered to take him to safe ground. He declined; “God will save me,” he said. Several other rescue attempts, including a helicopter, were met with the same response. Of course the man died. At the Pearly gates, he demanded of God, “Why didn’t you answer my prayers?” God replied, “Well I did send a couple of boats and a helicopter.”

  117. #117 vlad
    March 26, 2008

    “Meanwhile, life is still 100% fatal. ” That would have been setup by your god as per your beliefs. So either he is not omnipotent or he’s a sadist.

    BTW no one is arguing that people make mistakes in medicine. Assuming that the whole story isn’t just fabricated then those TWO doctors may have actually screwed up and been justifiably punished. The crap about rich and poor is only true in that the hospitals in poor areas have lower budgets and worse staff. When you go thorough med school and get out after an ass whooping with shit loads of debt I’d love to see you go work in the inner city, especially if your good at it and have offers for much better positions.

  118. #118 Dianne
    March 26, 2008

    Assuming that the whole story isn’t just fabricated then those TWO doctors may have actually screwed up and been justifiably punished.

    Doctors aren’t the ones who make the decision about whether to put the hospital on bypass (which is the only reason I can think of that they wouldn’t allow a lifeflight helicopter to land) or not, so either the story is much abridged/confused or there’s something wrong here. I can easily imagine either scenario: a mourning parent not sure of what happened only that his child died for lack of proper treatment and lashing out in all directions or a troll trying to pretend to be same.

    JB’s story aside, I don’t think that anyone here is arguing that the US medical system is utopian. Certainly, S-CHIP should be expanded, not defunded, universal health insurance in some form or another is clearly necessary, etc. But what does that have to do with whether or not it is ok for parents to allow their child to die of DKA? Is it only ok to be concerned about child abuse if no child anywhere ever suffers a social injustice?

  119. #119 JohnR
    March 26, 2008

    Very sad story, and all too familiar, if the details change with every example. One thing, though – it’s not the religion, it’s the people. There are thoughtful, intelligent, even wise religious folks, just like there are atheists who are (pardon the expression) bat-shit crazy. Simple-minded loonies and credulous fools aren’t confined to religious circles. Think for a moment about what it took for these parents to watch their daughter dying in pain over that period of time. They were horribly foolish, yes, but their ability to somehow rationalize the unforgivable behavior on their part is something that is in us as humans, not something that is the product of religion. The (in)action was cruel, but the intentions were not. You see things like that in the news almost every day; usually with quotes like “I didn’t think that would happen” or “Nobody could have expected that”. Generally, that’s the mark of a thoughtless fool, not a vicious person. Have compassion for those sad, foolish parents, as well as the child they murdered, but let’s pray that the other kids are removed from their care before they suffer the same sort of fate.

  120. #120 Randy
    March 26, 2008

    Hey, JB, you moron. “Meanwhile, life is still 100% fatal. Children die every minute of every day, sometimes of abuse, sometimes of diseases or malnutrition or some cause no one can prevent.” They sure do, but are you trying to say that we should stand by and allow it to happen when it is perfectly within our ability to prevent such tragedy? My, what a good samaritan you are. Would this child have led a full and happy life if even the most basic medical care were given? We’ll never know for sure, but it is quite likely. It may not be possible to save every child, but when something can (and in this case easily) be done, those charged with the responsibility are required to do so. There are a lot of religious people that still make sure their kids receive appropriate care. There is simply no excuse here. You, sir (I use the term loosely), are an ass.

  121. #121 anon
    March 26, 2008

    Wow. I’ll be sure to tell my son when I see him that you don’t think he’s dead. I’m sure he’ll get a big kick out of that. But I haven’t seen him in a long time. Just never came home again after that night. They told me he was dead, we had a funeral and everything, spent seven years ebroiled in lawsuits, and two wonderful, altruistic doctors haven’t been practicing medicine in all those years due to losing their licenses from our complaints and charges! What the hell were we thinking!?

    Liar liar pants on fire!

  122. #122 C. M. Baxter
    March 26, 2008

    “Their sister is dead of stupidity and neglect; she died painfully with their dumb-as-rocks parents hovering over her, chanting to their sky fairy.”

    Rocks everywhere should rise up in profound indignation at PZ’s completely unprovoked insult.

  123. #123 One Eyed Jack
    March 26, 2008

    Change the god in this story from Yahweh to Zeus and everything is different. Christians would by crying abuse as loudly as anyone else. But since it’s Sky Papa we’re talking about, it’s OK.

    -OEJ

  124. #124 JJR
    March 26, 2008

    This reminds me, thought ya’ll might appreciate an update on a recent Texas story…

    25 years for microwave father

    By Scott E. Williams
    The Daily News

    Published March 26, 2008
    GALVESTON — A jury has sentenced a man who burned his infant daughter in a microwave oven to 25 years in prison.

    Joshua Royce Mauldin must serve at least 10 years of that before he can be considered for parole. He also was assessed a $10,000 fine.

    That was the decision Wednesday from a jury in the 212th State District Court in a case that has garnered national news coverage. The same jury found Mauldin guilty Wednesday of injury to a child.

    full story at: http://www.galvnews.com/story.lasso?ewcd=ae51ba8cee4b3664

  125. #125 cat power
    March 26, 2008

    “Rocks everywhere should rise up in profound indignation at PZ’s completely unprovoked insult.”

    Unprovoked? An eleven year old child is dead. How much more riling up do you need?

  126. #126 anon
    March 26, 2008

    Unprovoked? An eleven year old child is dead. How much more riling up do you need?

    Ummmm…. Read what he said again. Cuz you didn’t get the joke.

  127. #127 Sastra
    March 26, 2008

    Years ago I read a heartbreaking story somewhere on the web (if I could find the link again, I’d give it.) It was written by a woman who had spent some time in jail (as did her husband) for allowing their pre-adolescent son to die slowly of (ironically) diabetes. They were convinced that their son had been cured by a faith healer, had subsequently thrown away all his insulin — and then believed that Satan was testing their faith when he began to get sicker and sicker. What made it particularly heartbreaking was that the woman now realized that she, and her husband, had killed their beloved child.

    The story was explained in detail: they belonged to a very close-knit charismatic fundamentalist Christian sect which constantly told anecdotes of miraculous healings. They held themselves aloof from the “world,” and knew that there were snares set by “worldly knowledge.” A fervent faith healer held a revival meeting and in dramatic fashion threw away their son’s insulin on stage and announced him cured. They were jubilant at first, but as his symptoms began to appear they quickly consulted their minister, their congregation, and the faith healer himself. Everyone told them the same thing:

    The boy was cured. His aches and pains were caused by Satan trying to get them to renounce their faith and trust in God by giving him a shot of insulin. They were risking their eternal souls by giving in. He would be fine. This sort of thing happened before, somewhere else, and when the parents stood firm the devil left the child’s body and he was well again.

    And — finally — as the signs grew worse and worse and the mother and father grew frantic — they were told that if they “gave in” and administered insulin to their son — his soul was in mortal peril. They could be damning him to Hell forever, a Hell they had absolutely no doubt whatsoever existed. They loved him too much to risk that. So he died in agony, with them praying the entire time, surrounded by the congregation, expecting that last minute miracle.

    This case sounds similar. “Call more people to help pray.” One of the most powerful forces is the community. Religion, faith — but if it hadn’t been for all the loving support (the kind of support Christians love to cite proudly), they probably would have “weakened.” And their son would be alive.

    The woman (and, I think, her husband) left their church, and were now heading some organization which was trying to lobby for laws to put criminal charges on parents who do what they once did. It is not for retribution — but for prevention. She wrote that they loved their son passionately, and would have gone to Hell themselves to save his life. But laws to criminalize religious parents who neglect worldly medical care for prayer might make the communities themselves more cautious. It might have been just the “out” they needed or one of their mentors — when the symptoms (recounted in gruesome detail) became very, very bad.

    I consider the parents in this story to be victims as well. I bet they miss their son. But yeah — send them to jail. To wake them up, to prevent it happening again. In this kind of case the real perpetrator is religion, and faith, and the belief that being really, really sure of God is never arrogant or dangerous, because God can be trusted when you can’t be.

  128. #128 extatyzoma
    March 26, 2008

    so its actually true to say that praying can make a difference, if you pray you arent seen as allowing someone to die unecessarily, if you dont you could be held accountable, god must be on the side of those praying but not those prayed for!!

    Imagine you had a bedridden aunt who you hated, you could let her starve to death and say you were praying for her to get better and get away with effectively murdering her, america is a strange place. what is it with the religious mind and the abyss???

  129. #129 jb
    March 26, 2008

    A Small Victory in an unwinnable war.

  130. #130 vlad
    March 26, 2008

    “Doctors aren’t the ones who make the decision about whether to put the hospital on bypass (which is the only reason I can think of that they wouldn’t allow a lifeflight helicopter to land) or not, so either the story is much abridged/confused or there’s something wrong here.” I’m assuming that he’s not just a troll so something may have made him bat shit crazy, losing a son would do that to many people. I’m not completely discounting the possibility that his kids did actually die due to malpractice. However his story doesn’t even close to add up.

  131. #131 Brownian, OM
    March 26, 2008

    “Rocks everywhere should rise up in profound indignation at PZ’s completely unprovoked insult.”

    Unprovoked? An eleven year old child is dead. How much more riling up do you need?

    cat power, I believe C. M. Baxter is wondering what the rocks did to warrant being compared in intelligence to these fundies.

  132. #132 vlad
    March 26, 2008

    jb: This is completely different then the crap your spouting. The insurance company refuses to pay for treatment for a chronic condition is very different than med flight getting turned away.

  133. #133 Sastra
    March 26, 2008

    John R #119 wrote:

    One thing, though – it’s not the religion, it’s the people. There are thoughtful, intelligent, even wise religious folks, just like there are atheists who are (pardon the expression) bat-shit crazy. Simple-minded loonies and credulous fools aren’t confined to religious circles.

    I very much disagree — I think there are many thoughtful, intelligent, wise religious folks who belong to bat-shit crazy religions.

    Within the world-view of many charismatic faith-healing groups, what these parents did — along with the parents I talked about in my earlier post — was perfectly reasonable. Do you honestly think it is likely that every single person in an established Christian congregation is some kind of a lunatic? Clinical? I can see that argument made for people who drop out and follow someone like Charles Manson, a real fringe group. But people in the more ‘extremist’ forms of religion are usually no more crazy or even gullible than you and me. They are embedded in a different culture, and have been conditioned to view events in a different way, and they act like ordinary people would act — in those circumstances.

    In our broader society in America, you don’t have to be simple-minded or overly credulous to be persuaded that 1.) God exists 2.) God manifests his presence even today with miracles 3.) God wants you to come to Him by faith and — the hard one — 4.) Your faith is often tempted to trust in the appearances of the world, when you need to trust in the only thing that cannot lie or let you down: God.

    And then the easy one: 5.) You can tell when it’s God, because there will be signs all around you if you just pay attention and are humble. It will all come down to your humility, and how much you can love God.

    As a Christian, you just happen to belong to a version which draws all the borderlines closer to the views of an atheist, who just goes by reason and appearances in the world. As God wants, of course.

  134. #134 Kevin L.
    March 26, 2008

    Absolutely sickening. If the parents cited any other excuse – political affiliation, they saw it in a movie, the voices made me do it, I heard it in a song – they would be ripped to shreds in the courtroom and their kids would be safe in a new home. But simply because the abuse is attached to their religious beliefs, they get a free pass.

    Religion is the last socially acceptable justification for child abuse. This needs to change now.

  135. #135 Citizen Z
    March 26, 2008

    Change the god in this story from Yahweh to Zeus and everything is different. Christians would by crying abuse as loudly as anyone else. But since it’s Sky Papa we’re talking about, it’s OK.
    -OEJ

    Forget Zeus. Imagine “Allah”.

  136. #136 jb
    March 26, 2008

    vlad:

    I’m assuming that he’s not just a troll so something may have made him bat shit crazy, losing a son would do that to many people. I’m not completely discounting the possibility that his kids did actually die due to malpractice. However his story doesn’t even close to add up.

    I suppose since I must be “bat shit crazy,” what occurred isn’t actually an issue. The doctors aren’t practicing because they broke the law. That others also broke the law after that occurred wasn’t enough to warrant prosecution (including fraudulent autopsy), though we certainly tried. Three other doctors did not lose their licenses in the deal, but did have to pay the lawyers. SOP in Florida 15 years ago (when this happened), 7 years ago when my mother was sent home to die for buying the wrong private version of Medicare, and not quite a year ago when my sister died because she had enough insurance (worked for an insurer) to cover a procedure she didn’t need and never should have been cleared for.

    It’s all about money, one way or the other – haves and have-nots, Murder by Spreadsheet, the way we allow junior accountants and work-at-home claim deniers to practice medicine these days. Otherwise these pajama-clad finger-flingers would be actively engaged in the myriad small and large ways that the suffering of children could be alleviated in this world. Manning the barricades my link described rather than spewing hatred after the fact as if this were the Nancy Grace Show, that is. Pretty disgusting.

    Hatred never cured anybody of anything, is even less effective than prayer, I hear. Wouldn’t know, since I’ve never tried either one as a way of life. I’m sure we’ll all know when you’ve won the ‘war’ you’re fighting. It’s supposed to make our lives much better, isn’t it?

  137. #137 amphiox
    March 26, 2008

    jb: you are entitled to your bitterness and I am sorry for your losses, but it doesn’t change the fact that even if everything you say is true, your position is irrational and your arguments make no sense.

    Now back to the primary post:
    What disturbs me most of all is the statement about “calling more people to pray.” Of all those they supposedly called to pray with them, was there not one, not even one, who could have said to them “for the love of sweet baby jesus, man, get your girl to doctor!”?

  138. #138 possummomma
    March 26, 2008

    No signs of abuse? Um…how about the dead child? It’s not as if she died from an unpreventable or incurable illness. A paramedic could have diagnosed her and helped set her on the road to recovery! Ketoacidosis isn’t a problem that just pops up and kills instantly. This likely suffered a month long marathon of nausea, pain, hallucinations, and discomfort. This has nothing to do with religion – if an adult wants to kill themselves by refusing medical treatment on religious grounds, then more power to them! They’re dumb as all hell, but… whatever. But, to submit a child to this sort of careless behavior is criminal. To decide, for your child, that you won’t seek medical care because of some fucked up belief that “God’s will” is that you should let your child die rather than procure a readily available, inexpensive, ethically sound treatment is beyond abusive. It’s manslaughter.

  139. #139 possummomma
    March 26, 2008

    I meant to add the following:
    If you deny your child food and/or water on religious grounds, then you can be held accountable for neglect. If that child dies from dehydration and starvation, then you will be rightfully labeled a murderer. SO…why, then, can’t these parents be prosecuted from holding medical care (based on religious grounds)?

  140. #140 PDFerguson
    March 26, 2008

    As if we needed another grisly reminder: religion is child abuse.

  141. #141 cyan
    March 26, 2008

    jb,

    I am so sorry for your son, you, and all who knew him that your son died when he could have lived with immediate treatment.

    That he did not get that treatment was due to incompetence due to either:

    - inability to make the decision to allow the helicopter to land

    or

    - ability to allow it to land but deciding against it because of reasons other than it would allow him a chance to live

    All persons involved in a Lifeflight are presumed to have the ability to make that 1st decision, so its the second that is in question.

    Who does the pilot take orders from: is it the physicians who could have treated him but thought it might put their jobs at risk, the administrators who oversee those physcians and thus thought it could put their jobs at risk, is it the pilot who could have landed but thought that it put his/her job at risk to go against those others’ orders?

    If putting a person’s job at risk should not be a legal factor in what a person actually does when another person’s life is in the balance, versus their job, then all of these people are legally accountable.

    (All of them are accountable for their actions in a non-legal sense. But then, all of them have undoubtedly saved an incredible amount of people from premature death because of their choice and expression of a medical profession than any of us in a non-medical profession).

    If the pilot could have landed safely, but did not because he thought he would have lost his job (because it ultimately added to hospital expense) if he had done so without hospital permission …

    If the doctors would have treated the patient, but did not do so because their agreement that the helicopter should land (because it ultimately added to hospital expense)would have jeopardized their jobs …

    If the administrators would feel their jobs were in jeopardy if they do not judge their physicians partially on their recommendations in these cases (because it ultimately added to hospital expense)…

    Then, the helicopter would have landed and your son would have gotten the best medical treatment.

    A solution to these cases is that pilots, physicians, and administrators & anyone else concerned in giving treatment to all, should not have to weigh their jobs (their families’ means of survival) versus each non-family-person’s medical case: ie health care should be provided equally to all.

    What does that entail?

    This does not seem to be a solution solvable by profit-minded institutions but by national all-citizens-minded institutions (is there one besides the federal US government?

    What individuals enter health care professions knowing daily they will have to make their decisions partially based on what their decision will affect their employers monetarily results

    versus:

    What individuals enter the health care professions knowing daily that their decisions will have to be based entirely on what is best for the patient?

    - cyan

  142. #142 John C. Randolph
    March 26, 2008

    Seems to me that christianity was supposed to require an end to human sacrifice. This pair of whackos should spend the rest of their lives in captivity, and I’ll leave it up to the legal system to decide if they should do so in a jail or a mental ward.

    -jcr

  143. #143 Phys
    March 26, 2008

    Another case of “oh it’s religion, so it’s not abuse.” This one in Germany; a judge cites the Koran to say that wife-beating and death threats are A-OK.

  144. #144 RG
    March 26, 2008

    I’m from the Wausau area (Weston is essentially a suburb), and have the newspaper still sitting out. If you want to follow the story, here’s the page I get from the Wausau Daily Herald.

    To restate the obvious, this is sad and distressing.
    -Rob

  145. #145 Matt
    March 26, 2008

    Vergin said an autopsy determined the girl died from diabetic ketoacidosis, an ailment that left her with too little insulin in her body…

    I find it very annoying that journalists don’t bother to get their facts straight. Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is not a condition that leaves too little insulin in the body, it is a condition that develops after diabetes mellitus is left untreated for long periods of time. DM is the reason she had too little insulin (assuming insulin dependent DM) in her body. I have treated dogs and cats with this disease and have been distraught by how sick and miserable these animals are when they present 10-12% dehydrated, unable to lift their heads or move, their bodies emaciated due to protein and fat catabolism… It makes me so angry that this poor child had to suffer so horribly at the hands of her idiot parents who should have stopped at nothing to get her treatment and make her well. AAAARRRGH. WTF is going on in these peoples’ heads?????

  146. #146 Crudely Wrott
    March 26, 2008

    Holy Mutthead, mackerel!

    Well, there you are. A perfect example of a clear and present danger being observed by “officials” wearing blinders as well as welder’s hoods.

    Of course, the official dare not offend anyone. Oh, dear, no!

  147. #147 Militant Agnostic
    March 27, 2008

    If a someone kills one their children because the voices in their head are telling them the child is the devil, they are taken away taken away and will probably wind up in mental insititution. The rest of their children would be immediatley removed from them as well. What is the difference here, just the number of people sharing the delusion. Anybody who believes they can cure any medical condition with prayer is just as deluded and is obviously a danger to their children. But, in a theocracy their is one law for Christians and another law for everyon else.

  148. #148 benji
    March 27, 2008

    And after THAT they are enraged against abortion because it takes a sooo precious human life for absolutely nothing.

    What I cannot understand is what was actually bad to get your children treated adequately. The Christian religion doesn’t forbid that… Doctors will help them regardless of their religious beliefs anyway.

    In my mind, they just like fucking gambling, and huge amounts.

  149. #149 Palin Drome
    March 27, 2008

    ‘And God says, “I sent you a truck, a boat, and a helicopter! What the hell else did you want??” ‘

    One of those stories that gets passed around moderate Christians, who stroke their beards and say ‘ah, you see, God works in mysterious ways’.

    Two points:

    1) This is – ironically, given that a flood’s involved – the definition of ‘rain made’. You pay a man to make it rain. If it rains he takes the credit, if it doesn’t he says you didn’t give him enough and you need to keep paying.

    2) By the logic of the story God sent the f-ing flood in the first place.

  150. #150 ferfuracious
    March 27, 2008

    Surely there had to be a tipping point where anyone would realise that prayer was just not going to work. If one of your children suffers for days and gets worse over time, in spite of any prayer, wouldn’t you give up and seek medical help?

    I can’t understand how they could have persisted for so long while their daughter was dying.

  151. #151 Snark7
    March 27, 2008

    These parents are dumb, evil, criminal scum of the worst kind. They should be shot in the gut and left to die on the spot. If their god doesn’t want them to die, surely he’ll heal them. Or deflect the bullet.Or whatever.

  152. #152 Snark7
    March 27, 2008

    These parents are dumb, evil, criminal scum of the worst kind. They should be shot in the gut and left to die on the spot. If their god doesn’t want them to die, surely he’ll heal them. Or deflect the bullet.Or whatever.

  153. #153 Josh
    March 27, 2008

    Thanks, Rob. Glad to learn from one of the commenters on one of the newspaper articles that, according to tv, the kids are in the hands of Child Protective Services.

  154. #154 Blaidd Drwg
    March 27, 2008

    @ dh (# 36) “I see this is a privacy issue. Parents and guardians of minors have the right to make medical decisions or indecisions regardless of the consequences – good or bad.

    The police have no business being involved.”

    So, you would have no problem if the dad in this case were simply *sthupping* his daughter, rather than letting her die, right? After all “The police have no business being involved.”

  155. #155 Leigh
    March 27, 2008

    @Palin Drome (#149)
    “‘And God says, “I sent you a truck, a boat, and a helicopter! What the hell else did you want??” ‘

    One of those stories that gets passed around moderate Christians, who stroke their beards and say ‘ah, you see, God works in mysterious ways’.”

    Way to totally miss the point, oh clueless one. The “funny” in that joke is the people who pray for angels when perfectly ordinary means of rescue are at hand. It’s God’s exasperation with idiots who ignore the real world, the real evidence, preferring magic instead.

    Sheesh.

  156. #156 spencer
    March 27, 2008

    Religion is good . . . Religion is wonderful . . . Religion is beautiful and sublime . . . Religion is truly awesome.

    Horseshit.

  157. #157 Monado, FCD
    March 27, 2008

    If the family had sacrificed a chicken in the back yard instead of taking their daugher to a doctor, do you think the police would have said there was no abuse? Clearly the parents failed to provide the necessities of life.

    I hope that the Children’s Aid Society (Child Welfare Office?) sees things differently. OTOH, unless one of the other children gets a chronic disease, they are probably not in much danger. They’ll just have to take their chances as do children of parents who let kids ride without doing up seat belts. I wonder if they vaccinate or just pray?

  158. #158 Nick Gotts
    March 27, 2008

    Leigh “The “funny” in that joke is the people who pray for angels when perfectly ordinary means of rescue are at hand. It’s God’s exasperation with idiots who ignore the real world, the real evidence, preferring magic instead.”

    Well, why not? I mean the guy’s omnipotent, so nothing should be too much (or indeed any) trouble to him. He’s omnibenevolent, so obviously doesn’t want anyone to suffer. Surely all ye have to do is ask, and it shall be given ye? Why all the rigmarole with boats and helicopters? In fact, why allow the flooding to happen in the first place? We know from Exodus that parting the waters is just the kind of thing Big G. enjoys. Sheesh.

  159. #159 Mold
    March 27, 2008

    If you treated a pet the way this child was, you’d be in jail. In this jurisdiction, it’s 5 years. No pets until you can prove you can take care of them. Constant oversight. Criminal record.

    If you are over 21 and want to kill yourself, fine. Don’t make a mess.

  160. #160 Nick Gotts
    March 27, 2008

    “They’ll just have to take their chances as do children of parents who let kids ride without doing up seat belts.”

    Seatbelts? Seatbelts are an abomination! Seatbelts are a sign of lack of Faith in THE LORD!

  161. #161 Grimalkin
    March 27, 2008

    I believe that in the UK, it’s illegal to allow your pet to die painfully of a disease. It must be treated or the animal must be euthanised. To just stand by and let it suffer is considered neglect and counts as abuse.

    Certainly puts some perspective on this whole thing, I think.

  162. #162 Matt Penfold
    March 27, 2008

    “I believe that in the UK, it’s illegal to allow your pet to die painfully of a disease. It must be treated or the animal must be euthanised. To just stand by and let it suffer is considered neglect and counts as abuse.

    Certainly puts some perspective on this whole thing, I think.”

    Grimalkin,

    Correct, but it is not only illegal to let your pet die in pain, it is a offence to allow an animal in your care to be in pain and fail to take any action. The normal penalty is a heavy fine and and ban from keeping animals for a period, but it is not unknown for people to go to prison.

    As an aside, it is also an offence to now have your kids buckled up in the car. It is an offence for adults not to either, but they have to pay the fine themselves, whereas with kids it is the driver who is liable.

  163. #163 Kyle
    March 27, 2008

    Did anyone else notice how the media has handled this story? One of the first things every outlet points out is that these people aren’t members of any organized religion — yet they hold Bible study every week? Sounds organized to me. They’re trying to keep the blame squarely away from the religious establishment. Framing the debate, anyone?

  164. #164 mona
    March 27, 2008

    As easy as it is to simply say that the parents should be charged for the death, and end at that, legal responsibility for the child’s death should extend, perhaps more so than to the parents, to the religious authorities who cause the parents to oppose medical treatment in the first place. They, I think, are more responsible for the denial of treatment than the individual parents. They are responsible for the existence and perpetuation of the idea, after all. From this perspective, it almost seems that the parents function more as accessories in the death of the child. Real justice, and the prevention of cases like this in the future, might only be achieved if the central organizations of, say, JW, could be held responsible for the denial of blood transfusions by their members, or the church of scientology for the denial of psychiatric care. It’ll probably never happen here, but it should.

  165. #165 Eric Paulsen
    March 28, 2008

    Which scientist was it suggesting we needed an nice engineered Ebola to “take care of” overpopulation not long ago? – JB

    Sounds like something I would say, but I am no scientist. And quite honestly I wouldn’t push for Ebola either – WAY too messy. Hell, we are already on the path to infertility in this country so I say we just sit back and do nothing.

    More drugs in the tap water please.

  166. #166 janet
    March 28, 2008

    You know what’s ironic? You can’t read about the discovery of insulin without encountering the word “miracle” over and over. When insulin was first synthesized in 1922, it brought people back from the brink of death. It seemed like a miracle.

    At the time, the only treatment for type 1 diabetes was near-starvation, which could extend a peron’s life for a few months or, in rare cases, 2-3 years. People hoped to live long enough to see a cure, or at least a treatment.

    One of the first people to receive insulin injections was Elizabeth Hughes. Nearly 15 years old, she weighed 45 pounds and could barely walk — she’d been living on less than 600 calories a day for three years. Within a few months after starting insulin therapy, she was well enough to go home. Within six months she was up to 105 pounds. She went on to live an interesting and apparently happy life: college, marriage, children, travel. She lived into her 70′s, an extraordinary age for a diabetic of her generation.

    But I guess that’s not enough of a miracle for some people.

  167. #167 Steve_C
    March 28, 2008

    It was on the cover of the Metro paper, they give it out every morning at the subways entrances.

    The mother is trying to play it off like she didn’t even seem that sick. Disgusting.

  168. #168 omar ali
    March 28, 2008

    This is a very sad and shocking story, but I think the issue of parents rights over children is very complicated and we have to be aware of the possibilities of abuse that will be opened up once state bureaucracies are allowed to intervene in these decisions. I am not suggesting that these parents should not be told that their choice of prayer over conventional medicine was a very very bad idea. I am also all in favor of publicizing this as one of the most horrendous examples of what can go wrong if religious fairy tales are taken too seriously and so on. But I am very hesitant about turning to the cops for redress. This was very very sad, but its not a capital crime, its a mistake and these parents may suffer enough without having to face the hostile impersonal bureaucracy of the state. State intervention in our lives is already too intrusive and the potential for abuse is so great that such intervention should be reserved for crimes of commission…..a generally libertarian view is preferable to the slippery slope at very start of which we are already seeing people being victimized because their child weighs too much…

  169. #169 Carlie
    March 28, 2008

    It’s tragic, and the parents need to be educated, but whose fault is it, really? The parents were brainwashed, probably since they were very young. But the people who taught this to them were also brainwashed by someone else, so the main culpability goes to the founder of whatever sect they’re immersed in. They honestly, truly thought they were doing the right thing. They can’t be allowed to get away with it, but I’d stop short of calling it murder. It’s somewhat analogous to the case of Lia Lee, although they were more dogmatic than the Lees because they were taught that any reliance on outside help would doom them. It’s the religion that should be attacked, not the parents.

  170. #170 Mr.Twiddle
    March 28, 2008

    In light of recent research conducted by NASA and reported by in the March 20th 2008 issue of The Onion, it is not surprising that the parents’ prayers failed. According to The Onion, 32% of all prayers exiting Earth are deflected off satellites orbiting the planet – ultimately preventing the discharged prayers from ever making it to the Gates of Heaven. After impact with the satellites, these diverted prayers typically plummet back into the atmosphere, where they either burn up of eventually land, unanswered, in a body of water. As if that wasn’t bad enough, 94% of those that make it past the satellites are swallowed by the black hole at the center of the Milkyway Galaxy. The report concluded that of the 170 billion prayers issued last month, one made it to God whose reply was intercepted by a hurricane and incorrectly delivered to a Nigerian man who reportedly did not know what to do with a brand new BowFlex.

  171. #171 Sean
    March 29, 2008

    I really do feel bad for this girl and her parents should most definately be held accountable for their actions (or more appropiately lacking of actions). I’ve lost 30lbs. in under a week to ketoacidosis from just before I was diagnosed with type one diabetes. I could not imagine the amount of pain that she must have went through after being in such a state for 30 days, I was close to death after just a week. These parents really should have to answer for what they did no matter what their reasoning for it is.

  172. #172 Nomad
    March 29, 2008

    Update on the story for those who haven’t seen it:

    The other children have been removed from the religious crackpot house and are now living with unnamed relatives who, presumably, are not religiously lobotomized. The story I read tried to put a positive spin on it by making it sound like the parents agreed that this was best for the remaining children. It went on to try to defend the parents, saying that they did the best that they knew how.

    So, in other words.. Ignorance IS an excuse if it’s religiously promoted ignorance.

    “Gee officer, I didn’t think that alcohol could intoxicate me, I was brought up to believe that God does that, so I don’t think I deserve this DUI ticket”

  173. #174 gex
    April 29, 2008

    And really, what are we to make of the concern trolls who worry over access to health care and poverty? Because I kinda feel like the party most closely associated with their #1 favorite sky fairy is also the most opposed to universal health care and policies that lead to greater wealth distribution and less disparity.

    Shorter trolls: It’s not our fault because we believe in God. It’s our fault because we don’t think secular institutions should address these issues. All we have left are empty words spoken to an imaginary figure to pin our hopes on.

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