Saturday, March 29, 2008

Nuts, Churches, Zealots, Child Sacrifices!

Here is a news story of from this week that I keep thinking about:

Diabetic Girl Dies as Parents Pray Instead of Calling For Medical Aid.

The headline makes it sound like Mom and Dad exercised poor judgement in a rapidly changing situation. But that's not quite what happened. Primary diabetic ketoacidosis generally involves a long, slow spiral around the drain before a patient actually succumbs. A patient (or their guardian) generally has lots of time (in this case, about a month) to consider their response -- indeed, the fact that this child's parents called on the "Elders" for advice a number of times shows they were considering their situation.

This morning the Church issued a press release. Oddly, it was nowhere to be found an hour later (maybe they got some good legal advice?) At any rate, I was able to dredge it up with my browser's "back" button and upload the release to Cal Webfiles:

Press Release from Unleavened Bread Ministries Regarding the Death of 11-Year-Old Madeline Kara Neumann and Our Experience with Her Parents, Dale and Leilani.

"[The AMA 'admits' to medical mistakes, but nobody goes after that organization] We know that the doctors do the best they can with what they have and we do not condemn them. We would like the same consideration."

The lunacy of that quote speaks more loudly than anything I could say here.

There is something important about the freedom of ideas (including religious ideas). There is intellectual value in allowing departure from the cultural norm (think: Galileo) and there is 'justice value' in not telling other people what to do with their lives, how to raise their children, etc.

But there is also social value in basic level of education, in training young people how to get by in the modern world, and in allowing our children to (*gasp*) reach an age where they can make their own choices.

The state of Wisconsin is exploring criminal charges. Good -- I'm thinking of the Chuch and complicity/conspiracy in reckless homicide, and Tort damages to the extended family. I hope someone makes it stick. It may or may not be fair to throw the parents under wheel here, but surely it is less fair that an eleven year old girl died for no reason. Something tells me the that the 'word of God' as quoted so freely in the press release might reveal dramatic new interpretations if the old interpretations required the Church to start paying zillions in damages and in criminal defense fees every time their "faith" adversely affects the health of a child.


Also, Boalt 1L Danielle M (who is definitely *not* a religious nut-job) gave an interview at the Shark, which slipped through the cracks earlier this week. She's a cool lady and she has some insightful things to say. Check out the interview if you get a chance. As a little bonus, if you read the comments below the video, you will discover that not one, but two of your fellow Boalt 1L's are from North Idaho. 

Lucky you!

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Blogger Patrick said...

Hey, Armen and EW.

I just changed my mind. Thought you might like to know.

(as for the video -- whoever you are, it's probably worth a half hour of our life)


3/29/2008 4:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even under the standards of their own wacky religion, these parents ought to be punished. If it's true that the parents claimed the faith healing failed because of their lack of faith, then their lack of faith is surely negligent!

That's the problem with living by faith--your faith will be tested.

3/31/2008 4:52 PM  
Blogger Shawn Francis Peters said...

I've written pretty extensively on the legal and ethical issues raised by these kinds of cases. 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, you might check out my "Religious Convictions" blog at:

4/18/2008 10:47 AM  

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