29 March 2008

Faith Healing

What do you do when the religious beliefs of parents endanger their children?  I am a strong supporter of parental rights and the freedom to practice religion, but kids have rights too.

Madeline Neumann, 11, died Sunday the Weston home of an undiagnosed but treatable form of diabetes as her parents, Dale and Leilani Neumann, prayed for her to get better. Her mother said she never expected her daughter, whom she called Kara, to die.

The family believes in the Bible, which says healing comes from God, Leilani Neumann said.

If they believe in God and the Bible, where do they think medical knowledge comes from?  If a child breaks a bone, is it a sin to put a cast on?  The parents have three other children who are now staying with another relative while this is being investigated.  I hope the investigation is thorough, but that won't bring Kara back. 


Posted by: Stashiu3 at 18:04:11 | Comments (38) | Add Comment
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1 As painful as these cases are, if we take such decisions,( What is the appropriate role of faith in a family's life? What is the appropriate limit on medical procedures and ethics?),out of the hands of family then who do we give it to? I don't trust Dr.s on the whole to rule against their interests and I sure don't want political expediency or PC fashion to make such value judgments. I think we have seen that neither judges, politicians, or medical professions are fit to hold such Godlike power. I think for now we should continue to give family a great deal of say in these matters and accept that as with freedom the cost will sometimes be tragic.

Posted by: Machinist at 29 March 2008@22:08:27 (yFIK0)

2 Suppose the parents had chosen chelation treatment or some other form of  "alternative medicine"?

Prayer is another form of therapy, and if you believe the way these people believe, it's a superior form of therapy.

Fortunately for me,  my religion says we should pray to God to let the physicians figure out the proper treatment

Posted by: kishnevi at 29 March 2008@22:32:34 (0gB9X)

3 We are on the verge of developing or exploiting a number of medical advances that raise serious ethical questions. Someone will have to make value judgments that reflect ethical and moral considerations that government is not fit to dictate. There is no perfect answer but just as biological diversity is man's best defense against  extinction from new pathogens, perhaps we would best accept a measure of ethical and moral "diversity". The outstanding success of private schools and homeschooling has been of great value to all parents by showing that the propaganda by the public school apologists is not the whole story. I am reluctant to have any government agency set "THE" word on such complex issues (Ever been assigned a Dr that was a TRUE BELIEVER in the powers of garlic over such new fangled ideas as antibiotics?).

Posted by: Machinist at 29 March 2008@23:55:04 (yFIK0)

4 OK, I must admit I had to Google chelation though I understood it once I saw what it was. I R unedumacated.

The Hippocratic oath like the constitution has fallen on hard times. Politicized medicine and politically empowered  doctors and scientists are so much more frightening to me than long shots like rogue comets or climate change.  In their search for objectivity the scientists have tried to find a chelating  agent (HA!)  to remove ethical and moral considerations from their work. While this may be valid from a research perspective it means we must be very careful in letting them set social standards and policy. (Now where did I put my tinfoil hat?)

Posted by: Machinist at 30 March 2008@00:08:30 (yFIK0)

5 Unfortunately, this was something easily diagnosed and treated... if the parents had taken her to be seen.  That's the problem here in my mind... while I can easily understand belief in the healing power of prayer, what responsible parent makes that their first treatment option?  I don't have a problem with parents making informed choices about their children, even if it's not the same choice I would make.  This was not an informed choice... it was willful ignorance.

Posted by: Stashiu3 at 30 March 2008@02:11:01 (tarqT)

6 They are considering criminal charges. How does government draw the line? Had it been diagnosed would they have been required to accept treatment? How do you stop bureaucrats from deciding that having a gun in the home is child abuse, as an example. We have not seen a comforting tendency towards restraint I am afraid. 

Posted by: Machinist at 30 March 2008@02:23:30 (yFIK0)

7 Had it been diagnosed I would lean much more towards the parents, while vehemently disagreeing with them because the treatment is so well-established.  If a kid breaks their arm, you get a cast... not a priest.  Government intrusion into parental rights is problematic, I agree.  This isn't one of those times, in my opinion.  Kara died because her parents neglected basic parental care.

Posted by: Stashiu3 at 30 March 2008@02:36:28 (tarqT)

8 But who decides what is basic and what is optional? Will parents have to be able to show they had all possible tests done in order to protect themselves, as doctors now do? Must we become a nation of hypochondriacs? 

Posted by: Machinist at 30 March 2008@02:49:27 (yFIK0)

9 Wherever the line is drawn sir, I would contend that basic certainly entails "something" rather than "nothing".  Just sayin'

Posted by: Stashiu3 at 30 March 2008@03:08:54 (tarqT)

10 I guess I just have a problem with the government deciding if they can trust the parents with the childrens' welfare. Short of abuse I am reluctant to give the government that authority. What has set our constitution apart from all others that have been patterned after it is the concept of birthrights. Almost all others show rights given by the government, unless the government decides it must take them away. A fundamental difference. History has shown the great wisdom of our founding fathers in seeing this.

Posted by: Machinist at 30 March 2008@03:22:00 (yFIK0)

11 Mac, I also think government should largely mind their own business most of the time.  When the child dies because the parents didn't do anything beyond praying, I have to say that's well beyond abuse... it's negligent homicide.

Wouldn't you agree that a parent who failed to get their child's broken arm casted (or did the equivalent themselves even) and just prayed for the fracture to heal would be guilty of abuse?  I worry about where the line should be drawn and favor the parents' rights over the governments, but who ensures the rights of the child when the parents won't?

Posted by: Stashiu3 at 30 March 2008@03:35:57 (tarqT)

12 "Wouldn't you agree that a parent who failed to get their child's broken arm casted (or did the equivalent themselves even) and just prayed for the fracture to heal would be guilty of abuse? "

As much as I would like to agree, I can not. I would love to see a reasonable line drawn but our government has shown that they will not accept any reasonable level of restraint on their own power to dictate these matters so I feel they must be cut off completely. Only when there is actual abuse by the parents or the parents allow actual abuse should it be a criminal matter. To say that they did not purchase enough medical services and therefore are criminals is to open a horrifying Pandora's Box.

Posted by: Machinist at 30 March 2008@03:47:40 (yFIK0)

13 Neglect is a specific form of abuse. If they don't feed the child, clothe the child, shelter the child, or protect the child from harm... that's neglect/abuse. If the child falls on something sharp and is in danger of bleeding to death because the parents believe the healing power of prayer will stop the bleeding, should everyone just stand by until the child dies before charging the parents with abuse? Cutting government out completely is not the answer, although emotionally tempting.

If the parents molest or prostitute the children, the government should have the power to protect the child. If the parents are drunks and insist the children become intoxicated with them, the government should have the power to protect the child. If the child is in danger of starving because the parents believe in fasting as punishment or that it will "purify" the child, the government should have the power to protect the child. Where to draw the line is problematical, I agree... but not all parents do well by their children.

Posted by: Stashiu3 at 30 March 2008@04:06:42 (tarqT)

14 All of your examples in the second part I agree are abuse and warrant government action. But your examples in the first paragraph are mostly involve subjective  opinions of what is enough, appropriate, or proper. Some in our government have suggested that teaching children Christian values and beliefs is abuse. A judge ordered a mother to buy her daughter a boombox when she sold her daughters as punishment. When these were considered a parents business there were certainly cases of children being hurt but I might suggest we did rather well as a society. Perhaps better than we do now with our more enlightened outlook.

Posted by: Machinist at 30 March 2008@04:20:14 (yFIK0)

15 Failing to provide any medical care at all, whether by the parents themselves or through seeing a doctor, is neglect.  If the child is sick to the point of dying and the parents do nothing beyond prayer to even find out what the problem is, someone has to protect the child from that level of stupidity.  They're not fit to be parents and the other three children are forever at risk if returned to the home.

Posted by: Stashiu3 at 30 March 2008@04:32:22 (tarqT)

16 If they had gotten a doctors diagnosis and decided to treat it themselves would this be different?
-- Should any parent who does not take their child in for a full battery of tests at the first sign of symptoms be charged with abuse and jailed? I understood that her signs came on in a matter of a few days.

--Are we to judge these matters from hindsight? Had the girl had flu and recovered should we still prosecute the parents for not having taken her to the ER at the first signs of illness, just in case?

--I fear we will give medical professionals the kind of abusive power, backed by government force, we have given lawyers. Tort abuse has had a very bad effect on our freedom, our society, and our economy. This could be far worse. Without some way to limit this power grab I am afraid to let the government camel's nose under the family's tent. (clearly I'm too late here, much more than the nose is inside already).

Posted by: Machinist at 30 March 2008@04:54:01 (yFIK0)

17 If they had gotten a doctors diagnosis and decided to treat it themselves would this be different?
Yes.
Should any parent who does not take their child in for a full battery of tests at the first sign of symptoms be charged with abuse and jailed? I understood that her signs came on in a matter of a few days.
Unlikely at best.  The girl was 11 years old and hadn't seen a doctor since she was 3.  Her signs most likely developed over a period of weeks, if not months.

My dear friend, this is not the case to make the stand that government is too intrusive... we both agree on that.  This underscores the need for a balance between government intrusion and parental autonomy.  A healthy skepticism of government motives and reach is always warranted, but they do have a role in protecting members of our society unable to protect themselves.

Posted by: Stashiu3 at 30 March 2008@05:11:34 (tarqT)

18 But who protects us from them?

Even the family members who called in the police said a few days, less than a week.

My last physical was 43 years ago and I have not seen a doctor in over a decade.

This is a tragic case but I think parents have a far better record with children than government. It's a flawed system but better than the alternative.

Posted by: Machinist at 30 March 2008@05:24:37 (yFIK0)

19 I'll bet on you over Hillary, anyday!

Posted by: Machinist at 30 March 2008@05:26:05 (yFIK0)

20 Sorry, why would you require they consult a state approved doctor but not require they follow his advise?

Posted by: Machinist at 30 March 2008@05:31:13 (yFIK0)

21 Tarnation! I saw a doctor when I broke my shoulder last year. I am going to bed now.

Posted by: Machinist at 30 March 2008@05:34:34 (yFIK0)

22 The family members had been trying to convince the parents to get help for several days.  The symptoms started well before that or the extended family wouldn't have been so concerned.  The parents never did call, the family members called on their own.

In the end, only a sister-in-law's call to police led to intervention.

Even the mother admits the child felt poorly for at least two weeks before sharply declining (I'd bet it was longer than that knowing something about the subject).  Old farts like us deciding not to see the doctor is our own responsibility.  Children cannot take that responsibility for themselves.  For a child to not see a doctor, not once even for a checkup, from age 3 to age 11 is neglectful almost to the point of criminality itself.

Posted by: Stashiu3 at 30 March 2008@05:39:41 (tarqT)

23 Sorry, why would you require they consult a state approved doctor but not require they follow his advise?
The difference between informed choice and willful ignorance.

Tarnation! I saw a doctor when I broke my shoulder last year. I am going to bed now.
Goodnight sir, rest well (still can't sleep yet... but Mom's up so maybe soon)

Posted by: Stashiu3 at 30 March 2008@05:43:59 (tarqT)

24 You are better informed than I am about this case. I found this a sad case but until someone can show me a mechanism to prevent the government, left or right, from protecting the children by taking them away and making them Little Octoberists or Hitler Youth, or reaching into our homes and controlling us "For the children" I am very concerned about this open ended intrusion of the state into the home and family. Napoleon taking personal responsibility for the education of the puppies to insure their proper upbringing.

We have already seen government confiscating Rush's book from a student and disciplining him and his parent, controlling the religious and moral teachings  which can be taught in the home, forcing  genital examinations on girls whose parents had indicated in writing they did not want school personnel doing these exams, questioning of students about their parents activities and gun ownership, rulings that parents have no say over political indoctrination of their children in government schools and so much more.

I do not think we have better parenting today than we did fifty years ago, or a hundred.

Posted by: Machinist at 30 March 2008@11:11:17 (yFIK0)

25 I do not think we have better parenting today than we did fifty years ago, or a hundred.
My point exactly sir.

Anytime sometime justifies anything with it's "for the children" I have to question whether this is cover for a grab for more control over our lives.  In some cases (such as this one), it's actually true... that's why it's so effective for the power-grabbers.

Fifty or a hundred years ago neighbors had much more influence over how children were raised.  Either a neighbor husband would have a "chat" with the substandard parents, or the community would largely shun parents who neglected their kids.  Now, neighborhood "chats" would be prosecuted and shunning is largely ineffective as neighborhood influence waned with easy transportation and internet (less inter-dependency).

Posted by: Stashiu3 at 30 March 2008@15:34:26 (tarqT)

26 I think government has had a very bad effect on parenting by encouraging single parenthood and irresponsible hedonism and enabling addicted and criminal parenthood. It has also made it very hard for young people to get out of a bad home situation without being put in very bad, often penal, institutions or going underground on the street. A 15 year old supporting himself on a minimum wage job is bad but the same minor living by drugs or prostitution on the street or confined in a "gladiator academy" is worse.

I have some once removed experience with both Christian Scientist caregivers and misguided government intrusion into the family. Both had bad effects but without a hard stop on the bureaucrats I would have to consider government to be a cure that is worse than the disease it treats in this area. I certainly recognize that there is room for reasonable disagreement, but I am much more concerned about bad or misguided government than I am about bad parents. A safety net should not be a straight jacket, but always will if bureaucrats are not  reined in. Currently I feel the last stop has been passed and like a collapsing star we are on a non stop ride to a black hole.

Should I point out here that I think 85% to 90% of our federal government should be eliminated? The states should also be cut back but it is the feds that have really made a doormat of our constitution, and I don't mean the executive branch. It is the most accountable and therefore the least corrupted of the three.

Posted by: Machinist at 30 March 2008@17:06:00 (yFIK0)

27 The Commerce, Equal Protection, Privacy, Appropriations, and other components of the Constitution have all been warped out of shape (or made up whole-cloth) to forward a social agenda.  Notwithstanding the hand-wringing of the Left, I agree the Executive Branch is the least distorted of the three branches. 

That said, there should be some recourse before a child is neglected to the point of death.  Punishing the parents after the child dies is fine, but letting them kill the child through ignorance would be a very high price to pay for restraining government.  Too high for me.  

Posted by: Stashiu3 at 30 March 2008@18:03:11 (tarqT)

28 Too many people died winning those freedoms and too many men, women, and children have been killed by government abuse.

Without a hard stop of some kind it is just too big a blank check of power to trust them with. Each and every freedom we have will be eliminated or "regulated" to "protect the children". It is racing ahead already with the government reaching ever deeper into our lives and homes to protect our children from us. They are claiming the right and need to control religion, speech, eating habits, discipline, morality, politics, and so much more, in our homes, because parents can't be trusted. Experience has shown this power is much more likely to be used against religious or conservative parents than abusive ones.

The people who want this power are almost never the people who should have it or will use it with restraint. We already see this.

Posted by: Machinist at 30 March 2008@19:45:03 (yFIK0)

29 Some parents are unfit.  I would rather tolerate some level of intrusiveness than read another story like Kara's.  As I said, if the parents had made an informed decision it would be different.  Blindly trusting in the power of prayer to heal all things is delusional... there is no basis in medicine or religion supporting this belief.  I don't feel sorry for the parents at all, just the siblings, other family members, and Kara.  The parents should step in front of a train for the safety of their remaining children.

I'm sorry we couldn't find common ground here my friend.  I don't like overly intrusive government either, but recognize that there is a limited role appropriate to the situation.  A good example is the toilet-seat lady whose boyfriend was charged.  Completely inappropriate as she is an adult who is allowed to make stupid choices.  He didn't have to enable her choice and could have left, but that shouldn't be the requirement.  This would be an example of overly-intrusive government. 

Posted by: Stashiu3 at 30 March 2008@21:05:15 (tarqT)

30 Regardless Sir, I could not have more respect for you. If there were people like you in government I would be less concerned.

Posted by: Machinist at 30 March 2008@21:18:08 (yFIK0)

31 I'd rather see your idea of cutting 85-90% of government and letting the best people do the jobs that were left.  Having to settle for the lowest common denominator has gotten old.  Government service should be a burden, not a career.  I think that would solve a lot of the problem regarding intrusiveness.  The few left in office would be too busy to get involved to that degree.  It's large government trying to justify it's size, power, and budget (and grow ever larger) that has time to play nanny-state.  Term-limits at all levels should be the standard and most government positions should be what we in the military call "extra duties" instead of full-time jobs.

Posted by: Stashiu3 at 30 March 2008@21:49:15 (tarqT)

32 Meanwhile, there is this.

Posted by: Stashiu3 at 30 March 2008@21:51:43 (tarqT)

33 And this.

Has this been happening all along and I'm just now noticing it? 

Posted by: Stashiu3 at 30 March 2008@21:55:45 (tarqT)

34 It's been going on longer than my lifetime, Sir. I remember news stories and TV programs about this as a child.

Look into how many children die from neglect and abuse in welfare homes where the single mother is on drugs and selling herself and possibly her children to support her habit. How many crack babies are born. How seldom are these children taken from the parent?

These tragedies are much, much more common but do not get the coverage that a religious based death does. Not PC enough.

Now look at the figures for children in the protective services custody. As I said, these powers will not be used against the worst offenders but the OK to attack groups.

Please don't think from what I said earlier that I am less bothered by these deaths than you are, Sir. I just believe government will be worse for kids overall unless some check is put on their power.

Children will suffer and die either way. I think parents are the better way if it must be unfettered government or unfettered parents.

Posted by: Machinist at 30 March 2008@23:37:06 (yFIK0)

35 I have no numbers to support this but I believe it is less common today than it used to be.

Posted by: Machinist at 30 March 2008@23:39:18 (yFIK0)

36 I understood that Mac... if I gave the impression I thought you were being heartless I sincerely apologize. Far from it, I know how big your heart is and understand your reservations about intrusive government agencies, as I hope you have seen mine. I think we just have different ideas on where to draw the line. Having seen how abuse and neglect impact (not determine) mental health, my perspective is different than yours... not better or more correct, just different. That's okay because between the two of us, we can help keep both sides in check.

Cutting back on government until they're too busy to get involved at the family level would allow neighbors to have those "chats" I spoke of earlier. As a beneficiary of "wall-to-wall" counseling when I was a Private, I understand how it can help someone "get their mind right" (I know, that's a lotta scare-quotes... but oh well )

Posted by: Stashiu3 at 30 March 2008@23:55:17 (tarqT)

37 None called for, Sir. In truth I am very cold blooded about some things. Children are not one of them. I must often fight to stay rational where children are concerned. It seems they always are and always have been preyed upon so I look for what seems best for the most. Most of the time I catch myself being hypocritical it involves children.

I guess my problem is that I don't see a line except at the extreme ends. If action is taken I much prefer local action, either by local government or something less formal. I suspect we would have little problem cooperating at that level. I might even surprise you.

I assumed you had professional experience that gave you considerably more insight than I and a good perspective on the problem, so this does not surprise me.

Posted by: Machinist at 31 March 2008@01:48:50 (yFIK0)

38 We certainly agree that keeping it at the local level is preferred.  That's true for any problem... always try to solve it at the lowest level possible.

Kids are a button-pusher for most people, that's why "It's for the children!" is used so often.  Too often it's effective where it shouldn't be, hence the appeal to emotion in hopes of over-riding reason.  Some of these parents should be waterboarded until they are able to verbalize some insight into their own poor parenting, and that's before they do any lasting harm to (or kill) their own children.

Posted by: Stashiu3 at 31 March 2008@09:40:10 (tarqT)

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