I think we would all agree that as parents (or if we were parents), that we would act in the best interest of our child(ren) and recognise that we are responsible for a human being who’s not fully capable of making decisions for themselves. We would provide love, care, guidance and above all; safety.
Thankfully, the Wisconsin state Supreme Court agrees that these are the basic tenants of being a decent parent. It turns out that parents are not allowed to neglect their child, they don’t have the right to withhold necessary medical assistance to their child and they do not have the right to get away with homicide through neglect.
Madeline Kara Neumann (A.K.A. Kara) died in March 2008 in her home from a case of undiagnosed diabetes. Despite gradually growing weaker and even being unable to eat, drink or walk, Neumann’s parents believed that visiting a doctor was akin to worshiping an idol.
She was 11 years old.
Did this not hold any magnitude with her parents? 11 years old. Not yet capable to look after herself independently. Not yet fully capable of understanding of what was happening to her body as she gradually grew weaker and weaker. And certainly not yet capable of making an informed decision of whether she believed a god existed (let alone the Christian god) and by extension whether she wanted her parents to pray for her rather than seek medical assistance.
“A child is no more a christian than he’s a member of the postal worker’s union.” – Marcus Brigstocke
The overwhelming majority of the time when I criticise it is critique ideas, conventions and modes of thinking. However, for most of this post I will be criticising actual people. Dale and Leilani Neumann are responsbile for the effective murder of their 11 year-old daughter and are outright despicable people for forcing their child to obey their cult rules. There are only a small number of people for in the world I reserve such distaste and lack of pity for, this for me, is a big deal.
You thought prayer-healing in itself was bad enough, it turns out 31 states in the USA have child-abuse religious exemptions (Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, and Wyoming).
Last week saw me on the upbeat. This week I’m just outright pissed. At least 303 children have died since 1975 after medical care was withheld on religious grounds, according to Rita Swan, director of the Iowa-based advocacy group Children’s Healthcare is a Legal Duty.
That’s 303 children that could have been saved, or at least 303 couples who could’ve been prosecuted.
I have never been more aware of the dangers of believing stupid ideas for terrible reasons and assuming that parents have rights over their children rather than responsibilities to them.