Thursday, March 27, 2008

Suffer the little children...

and this one certainly did.

You've probably seen these stories, which I'll be stashing away in the "I can't take it anymore" file.

Anyway, 11 year old Madeline Kara Neumann is dead because her parents prefer prayer to insulin, which could have saved their daughter's life.

Said Leilani, the girl's mother: ""We just believe in the Bible, that's all. This is our faith."

Her husband added that, "We believe the word of God and live according to its precepts."

I've been looking for the one where He gives us permission to murder by omission, but I can't find it. Maybe they were focused on the one about faith being sufficient to move mountains. They even admit they didn't have enough of it. Bad luck.

I wish I knew where the law stands on this, because there oughta be one.

The mother has a couple of posts at a website called America's Last Days, run by Unleavened Bread Ministries. You can read it here.

Oh, if it's any comfort, the police chief also said that "The mother believes the girl could still be resurrected."

Audio of the 911 call here.

"Maggots in the rice" - of sugar and spice and everything nice.

One of my female adult students of Chinese derivation wrote her research paper against China's one-child policy. I followed one of her sourced links and found this: doctors discover 23 sewing needles in woman's head.

This was done to her after she was born. I can't even comment. I have daughters.

This one's about giving life, not taking it, but you're still not going to like it. A human is born a woman, transitions to a man, but retains his/her female sexual organs (after undergoing a double masectomy), and is now pregnant.

"How does it feel to be a pregnant man? Incredible," he adds. "Despite the fact that my belly is growing with a new life inside me, I am stable and confident being the man that I am."

I'm confused.

And I really almost can't take it anymore.


Lydia McGrew said...

It sounds like the parents of the girl with diabetes are definitely _more_ than a little weird, but it doesn't actually say that they are religiously opposed to treatment or insulin. Sounds to me like a case of neglect but not like an case where they set themselves against getting their child treated because that would be unnatural or against God's will or anything, as I feared at first it was going to turn out to be. Instead a more general, irrational refusal to admit that she was a very sick child and needed to see a doctor immediately. Even the mother admits that she was really sick the day before she died, so they should have taken her in then, even if they didn't realize how bad it was before.

The one about the Chinese woman is just wild. How did she survive this long? Just amazing.

Lydia McGrew said...

Okay, I listened to the audio of the 9/11 call. Hadn't done that before. That's worse. She told the relatives on the phone that she thought the child was *in a coma*??? But she didn't take her to the hospital??? That's _very_ serious, crazy, neglect. And now the father is saying he's not opposed to doctors, but the facts here say otherwise. And if the relatives had been trying to get her to take her to the hospital fo ra week, then the mother is rewriting history to say the girl didn't seem very sick until the day before. Very,v ery bad stuff.

William Luse said...


TS said...

Sola Scriptura can be deadly.

Ellyn said...

I am about ready to join the ranks of those who say they pay no attention to the news because it's always depressing. (Though I'm not sure how my ignorance should add to the common good.) Lord, have mercy!

William Luse said...

TS, even if we were all Papists, there would still be people like this. Besides, they didn't get their warrant from the Bible, but from themselves.

Ellyn, I wish someone would start a Good News Network, but nobody seems interested.

alicia said...

I really have a problem with this kind of neglect, but I also have a problem with looking for a big brother government intervention. Too much room for error and judicial activism (like court ordered cesareans, court ordered feeding tube removals, court ordered vaccinations etc). I just wish that we had not lost the culture of parenting where young women and men learned how to parent by having loving and responsible parents and the extended family. Instead, we have turned it over to "the experts" (from Dr.Spock to Dr. Dobson). Relying on the wrong 'experts' is one of the major ills of our culture.

William Luse said...

Yeah, but I don't think you can blame the experts for this one. The parents' understanding of God's will is going to take precedence over any 'culture of parenting.' That's why I propose - if they don't exist already - very specific laws that tell people that certain religious practices (not beliefs) will not be tolerated.

Lydia McGrew said...

It's very difficult to make laws that anticipate every kind of craziness. And of course there are non-religious people who engage in severe neglect just because they can't be bothered--inner city moms whose babies get rickets or even sometimes die.

There probably is no way to get around the need for child protection laws with some fairly broad category such as "neglect" that allows room for application to situations that cannot be anticipated in their details. Such laws should make it clear that it is severe, immediate, life-threatening, physical neglect that is in view, not something more vague and subjective. There's not even any need to single out religious practices, and it probably would be wisest not to do so. That is, _anybody_ who doesn't get medical help for their child in a coma for _whatever_ reason, religious or otherwise, and whose child dies, should be liable to investigation and probably prosecution for child neglect and endangerment. And I'd imagine Wisconsin does have such laws on the books.

William Luse said...

Well, that's pretty much what I had in mind, not something like "The following Jehovah's Witness practices are hereby banned." For example, I've heard that the JW's sometimes refuse consent for a life-saving blood transfusion (I don't know what the state of the law is on this, if it's universal or varies from state to state), and a secular law that would prohibit endangering another's life based on religious or any other kind of belief, or the lack of one, would satisfy me. Secular beliefs that endanger (and actually kill) people are those concerning unborn babies, PVS and comatose patients, and embryos as a source of stem cells. Of course first we've got to get the law to look at those latter 3 categories as actual people. The secular errors do far more damage (in terms of numbers) than the occasional religious fanatic.

Lydia McGrew said...

Usually the way stuff like that works is that the family-law judge operates on a common-law more than a statutory law basis. He has a lot of leeway to decide what is in the best interests of a child and to order it. So it has come about that there have indeed been court orders for treatments that parents have wanted their children not to have. I disagree with this when it is a matter of chemotherapy or other drug treatments that really are harmful or have severe side effects. Judging the cost-benefit thing there really does need to be left to parents, IMO. (Yet sometimes there have been court orders for children to be given chemotherapy against parental wishes.) Blood transfusions I would side with ordering them against parental wishes, though often the problem when we're really talking about a severe problem is that we're dealing with an emergency situation and very little time for fact-gathering and deliberation. This makes the whole thing a puzzle.

In the particular case in the story, it looks to me like here's a possible legal scenario, almost certainly within the framework of laws now in place and child protective set-ups now in place, that would have saved the girl's life: The California relatives call 911 or else Child Protective SErvices in the Wisconsin County where the family is located sooner than on the day when they did call. They could always give all the names and information they had even if they did not have the address. It sounds like they were trying to get the address before calling anyone for help, which is understandable but in this case caused too much delay. For example, the girls' parents run a coffee shop. With that information, probably the name of the coffee shop, the name of the town, and the parents' and children's names, Child Protective Services could for sure have investigated and gotten the address. So CPS goes to the house and asks to see the girl, says they have a report that she is severely ill and not being treated. If the parents refuse, they go to a judge and get a court order based on credible evidence of imminent danger to the child. This all takes place like 4 days or so earlier! Then they go and see the child, verify that she's very ill, and tell the parents they have to take her in. If she's already comatose, CPS workers are usually legally permitted to get the police in a true _emergency_ situation and take the child away immediately without a court order. Probably the parents wouldn't have pushed it that far, and hopefully she could have been saved. Certainly she could have gotten treatment before she died, so something would have been done.

William Luse said...

I assume by "cost-benefit thing" you mean the harm-to-be-done versus the health-benefit-to-be-gained, and not money.

My position's pretty simple. If the treatment will save the child's life (not merely prolong it or constitute a threat to life in itself), it should be given over parental or any other objections.

Here's my problem with the mother: ""And then just the day before and that day ([on which]she died), it suddenly just went to a more serious situation."

Right there is the point at which a responsible parent becomes worried enough to take the kid to an emergency clinic. But what does she do? "We stayed fast in prayer then. We believed that she would recover. We saw signs that to us, it looked like she was recovering."

In her expert medical opinion. The chose prayer over treatment. They cared more about the efficacy of their prayer as a reflection of their faith than they did about the girl's well-being. What an incredibly vain presumption upon God's will. It's also weird that "Madeline last saw a doctor when she was 3." When the mother tells reporters that "The family believes in the Bible, and it says healing comes from God, but they are not crazy, religious people and they have nothing against doctors," I think she's lying.

So then if the parents are charged and thrown in jail, as I believe they could and probably should be, what happens to the other children? These cases make me sick.

Lydia McGrew said...

Right, yes. Sorry for being unclear. I meant cost-benefit *to the child*, where there are side effects and harms from the treatment itself.

Certainly. You are quite right that that's where the mother shows she's crazy. If the CA relatives had reported it sooner, I think the girl could have been saved. Not that it's primarily their fault, because they were only able to guess from a thousand miles away (or whatever) what was going on. I'm just saying that I think the present legal structures could have saved her and that the co-factor along with her parents' craziness was that the problem wasn't reported soon enough by the only people who knew there was a problem.

The children would probably be given to relatives to raise if the parents were convicted and sentenced to jail, though the judge would have a lot of discretion in assigning custody. HOpefully they wouldn't go to foster care. If the latter, that would be pretty bad for them.

Shawn Francis Peters said...

I've written pretty extensively on the legal and ethical issues raised by these kinds of cases (including in a book recently published by Oxford University Press). And, since I'm based at UW-Madison, I've commented on the Neumann case specifically in a number of different forums (including CNN).

I won't drone on here, but if you're interested in learning more about the Neumann case (and the analogous Worthington case in Oregon), you might check out my "Religious Convictions" blog at: