Faith-healing parents charged in baby’s death

A couple whose church preaches against medical care are facing criminal charges after their young daughter died of an infection that authorities said went untreated.

Carl and Raylene Worthington were indicted Friday on charges of manslaughter and criminal mistreatment in the death of their 15-month-old daughter Ava. They belong to the Followers of Christ Church, whose members have a history of treating gravely ill children only with prayer.

Full Stroy: MSNBC.

I found this update through this opinion piece that TiamatsVision linked to in the comments of this post about a similar situation in Wisconsin where the parents have yet to be charged.

This is good news. Laws should apply to all citizen equally, regardless of their religious beliefs (or lack thereof).

12 Comments

  1. Klintron: “This is good news. Laws should apply to all citizen equally, regardless of their religious beliefs (or lack thereof).”

    This is mixed news. There are implications to legally requiring a parent to provide medical care for their dependents that are less savory. Within my lifetime homosexuality was considered a mental illness. Being born intersex but otherwise functional is considered a problem by most medical professionals. Should parents of homosexual dependents have been required by law to seek medical intervention? Should parents of intersex dependents today be required to seek medical intervention?

    In this specific case the outcome is just because it happens that there is no God, prayer always fails and religion is loathesome. But basing law on medicine is as dangerous as basing law on aesthetics, and for the same reasons.

  2. in the end of Terror Firmer, a Troma production film, there’s Trey Parker n’ his brother in law Matt stone(southpark creators) doing a Hermaphrodite public service announcement.
    first place i’ve seen it , days ago only , synchmeup

  3. It is good news because it is extending the rule of law to everyone and not offering religious exemptions. The laws about medical neglect are pre-existing and, of course, worthy of scrutiny.

    I do think that there is a difference between life-threatening medical neglect and the decision not to “treat” a child born intersex. Though obviously it could play out differently in the courts.

    “But basing law on medicine is as dangerous as basing law on aesthetics, and for the same reasons.”

    I’m not sure how you’re using “aesthetics” here, but I think basing law on medicine is nowhere near as dangerous as basing law on religion. Although the “treatment” for British homosexuals (which lead to the suicide of Alan Turing) was horrible, it’s nowhere near as horrible as the Islamic treatment of homosexuals: stoning to death.

    Furthermore, as you like to point out, science and medicine change as new evidence is gathered. The fact that homosexuality is no longer considered a disease by medicine but is still considered a sin by many (most?) religions is enough to recommend the rule of medicine over the rule of religion.

  4. what about mandatory circumsission?

  5. Klintron: “It is good news because it is extending the rule of law to everyone and not offering religious exemptions.”

    False. Oregon law still offers religious excemptions in sentencing in exactly this sort of case. The parents have been arrested, that’s different, but they could still walk or recieve a lighter sentence strictly due to their superstition.

    Klintron: “I do think that there is a difference between life-threatening medical neglect and the decision not to ‘treat’ a child born intersex. Though obviously it could play out differently in the courts.”

    Exactly my point. If the law is based on the average or leading medical findings, intersex children are to be sexed as early as possible. Base the law on medicine once and you’ll have to explain why you won’t do it a second time.

    Klintron: “I think basing law on medicine is nowhere near as dangerous as basing law on religion.”

    An accurate comparison, but not connected to what I was making claims about.

    Klintron: “The fact that homosexuality is no longer considered a disease by medicine but is still considered a sin by many (most?) religions is enough to recommend the rule of medicine over the rule of religion.”

    Law based on medicine and science is better than law based on superstition, but in the same way that being punched is better than being shot. Maybe we could just skip the punching and the shooting altogether.

    Valentine S: circumcision for boys is not mandated by law anywhere in the United States, and is forbidden by law everywhere in the United States for girls (female genital mutilation).

  6. Also Valentine, neither the American Academy of Pediatrics nor the American Academy of Family Physicians nor the American Medical Association recommend routine circumcision of infants. So even under a strict medicalocracy mandatory circumcision seems unlikely barring a change in medical opinion.

  7. “False. Oregon law still offers religious excemptions in sentencing in exactly this sort of case.”

    Yes, re-reading your article I see that they are still exempt from murder one and two charges. In this case, it I doubt either one of those would apply regardless of religion. However, I do stand corrected.

    “The parents have been arrested, that?s different, but they could still walk or recieve a lighter sentence strictly due to their superstition.”

    Considering none of the parents in who’s children have starved to death have even been charged, I’d still consider this significant.

    “Base the law on medicine once and you?ll have to explain why you won?t do it a second time.”

    This is a slippery slope argument. And it’s a long slope from saying “failure to have your kids treated for treatable, fatal diseases is criminal negligence” to “you must comply with all recommendations from the AMA.”

    “Law based on medicine and science is better than law based on superstition, but in the same way that being punched is better than being shot. Maybe we could just skip the punching and the shooting altogether.”

    What alternative would you suggest?

  8. YES!

  9. Leo F. Swiontek

    April 3, 2008 at 5:14 am

    Definetly they should be punished,because it’s question of death
    of innocent baby.

  10. Klintron: “What alternative would you suggest?” The one suggested by Karl Popper in ‘The Open Society and Its Enemies’ and ‘Conjectures and Refutations’ and elsewhere.

    (1) We do not get to start our legal system from a blank slate.
    (2) Basing law on God, or science, or engineers, or kings – all are authoritarian answers to the authoritarian question ‘what should we base our laws on?’ This is the wrong question to ask. No source (theocracy, science, art, etc.) is authoritative. Knowing where a thing comes from or its true name doesn’t give the knower special powers.
    (3) We start with what we have and move forward. Laws should be modified around the idea ‘how can the inevitable errors in law be minimized in their damage, and how can we learn from our errors?’ It isn’t that laws are based on anything in particular – it isn’t the foundation but the feedback function that matters. This means that even laws that come from a theocratic background (or a science background) may have their place.
    (4) Nor is it the goal that matters but the means to get to that goal. The goal of ‘no murders occur’ is a good one, but the swiftest means to get there is by killing all the murderers. The means of ‘neither I nor others should murder’ will yeild the result sought.

  11. Perhaps then we should make it legal for me to aim a gun at someone and pull the trigger. After all, I don’t know the gun is even going to fire (engineering is often faulty) or, even if it does fire, that the person who gets hit with the bullet will die (sometimes people live through these things). Medicine says that getting shot with bullets is bad for someone, but I don’t believe that. And if he does die, who’s word are we to take that he is dead, or that the cause of death was the bullets? Coroners base their work on medicine.

  12. Klintron: “Perhaps then we should make it legal for me to aim a gun at someone and pull the trigger.” These are the sorts of absurd proposals that come up when we try to start with a blank slate, which I listed as no-no number one above.

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