An 11 year-old Wisconsin girl has died an excruciating death from untreated type I diabetes because her religious parents opted for prayer over medical treatment. Madeline Neumann's parents, Dale and Leilani, are some species of non-denominational Christian whackjobs who, not unlike Mary Baker Eddy's Christian Scientists, believe that medical intervention is not necessary and that prayer is the best medicine. They allowed their daughter to slip into a diabetic coma and die before "other relatives" called 911. This is glossed over in the AP report, but there's a video report on CNN's site from (the often insufferable) Nancy Grace that indicates that these relatives were from California and had been alerted to the trouble when the parents called them asking for additional prayers.
The mother is quoted in an Associated Press story as saying
"Our lives are in God's hands and whatever we go through we are just going to trust him."
In other words, to paraphrase Ivan Drago from Rocky IV, "if she dies, she dies."
There's some controversy as to how long the medical crisis had been going on. The AP story indicates that everything happened within the span of a few days, though Nancy Grace indicated that the situation had been going on for close to a month but that the girl had only recently become acutely symptomatic. Madeline, who had been withdrawn from public school in favor of homeschooling, had apparently not seen a doctor in 8 years.
As usual, officials are confusing the willful neglect of a child's well-being with a religious freedom issue, and thus have declined to remove the family's three other children from the home. Now keep in mind that I have no problem with the issue of adults declining medical care because of their religious beliefs - it's asinine, but it's also their choice. Children, however, are a whole different matter. As Richard Dawkins said, there's no such thing as a Catholic child, a Protestant child, or a Muslim children, just the children of Catholics, Protestants, and Muslims. Once that child reaches 18 they can do whatever they want, but until then their parents are responsible for them, and the entire purpose of the CPS system is to make sure that parents are executing that responsibility properly, rather than letting their child languish in a coma and die when they could be treated with simple insulin shots.
Another thing that grinds my gears is that the press (note especially the Nancy Grace segment) is attempting to paint these folks as regular whackjobs rather than whackjob Christians. The Nancy Grace segment even went so far as to display a quote from the mother about how the family doesn't consider itself religious, even as the AP story AND the Nancy Grace segment both contained quotes about how the family believes in the Bible and the laying on of hands. They may not belong to an organized church (despite the similarities to the Christian Science nutjobs), but they are clearly basing their delusions on Christian mythology. I guess it's just another case of "hands off" with religion, even when an innocent girl is dead.
Hopefully these psychos will get what's coming to them, but somehow I doubt it.
For an interesting discussion about religious freedom and the denial of medical treatment, I recommend the well-researched and even-handed "God vs. the Gavel - Religion and the Rule of Law" by Marci A. Hamilton.
Edit- An astute friend of mine found a link to a "testimonial" from Leilani Neumann on the cheerily named website AmericasLastDays.com where she details how God sends her visions and gave her magic X-Men powers in order to help her "save" her Catholic friend. Yeah, these folks weren't at all religious... The testimonial is here, if you dare to read it.