The case of a 15-month-old Oregon City girl who died for lack of medical treatment could become the first test of a state law that disallows faith healing at the expense of a child’s life.
Ava Worthington died March 2 at home from bacterial bronchial pneumonia and infection, according to Dr. Christopher Young, a deputy state medical examiner. He said both conditions could have been prevented or treated with antibiotics.
The child’s breathing was further compromised by a benign cyst that had never been medically addressed and could have been removed from her neck, Young said.
Child-abuse detectives recently referred investigative findings to prosecutors, who are evaluating the case in light of a law passed in 1999 after several faith-healing deaths of children.
“This is the first time that they could be taking a shot at interpreting the law,” said state Senate President Peter Courtney, who carried the contentious bill on the Senate floor nearly a decade ago. He said the Worthington case is giving him “flashbacks.”
See also: Child sacrifice in Oregon.