Prayer, type 1 diabetes, and parents
Last night a young member of our community, Jay Hobbs, brought a matter to the attention of the chat group. The case involves the death of an eleven (11) year old girl who died in March of 2008, as a result of her parents withholding treatment for Type 1 diabetes, and instead opting for a regiment of prayer asking God to heal the child.
The case is in the news because the Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision to allow convictions related to murder to be made. The 6-1 ruling is seen as significantly reducing the coverage of the WI statute granting immunity for parents who seek prayer as a form of healing. The court ruled that the immunity provision prevented parents form prosecuted only for the charges of child abuse. The couple had argued that they were protected from all prosecution relating to the child’s death because of the immunity provision of WI law.
According to BND.com, using prayer in place of medical treatment has resulted in “303 deaths (nationwide) since 1975” (Karla, 2013; Richmond, 2013). According to the article 1973 was the years in the early 1970 when such laws started being passed as a result of a federal mandate (Richmond, 2013).
As might be expected, it has been reported that the girl suffered a great deal as a result of not seeking treatment. “Dale and Leilani Neumann, ignored obvious symptoms of severe illness as Kara became too weak to speak, eat, drink or walk, choosing to pray rather than take her to a doctor. “ (Karla, 2013). The article also states that:
“As Kara's condition worsened, her parents resisted suggestions from her grandmother to take her to a doctor. Kara's grandfather suggested giving her Pedialyte, a supplement used to combat dehydration in children, but Leilani Neumann said that would take the glory away from God. Dale Neumann testified that the possibility of death never entered their minds. After the girl died, Leilani Neumann told police God would raise Kara from the dead” (Richmond, 2013).
One has to wonder how terrible it was for this little girl. Those of us who are type 1 can usually remember our diagnosis and how just ill we were. Thankfully my parents sought treatment. But if they had not I am stunned by the awful nature of a death caused by this type of nonsense.
The bible defines faith in Hebrews chapter 11 verse 1 when it says that faith is the substance of all things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. While this couple reportedly did not attend or belong to any particular church, one can assume that they might have been banking on faith as a way of rescuing the child. Hebrews goes on to speak about God raising the dead if they have enough faith. I have no doubt in Gods ability to do this, but I also think that God would rather us find the more practical solution, which means use faith to save the child with the resources already given to us.
I realize this is my feeling based on my understanding of Christian Faith. I hope other faith traditions will comment, but I bet we will all be pretty much the same. I find no justification whatsoever for denying treatment using insulin to a child who is dying. If we are to speak of faith and type 1, I would say the people who brought their children to Indianapolis and Toronto immediately following the discovery of insulin showed faith. Faith that an unproven drug might be obtained to treat themselves or their children (Cooper & Ainsberg, 2010).
To me this is some kind of pseudo ridiculous excuse for not going to the doctor disguised as a religious idea. It is nothing more than shameful.
Cooper, Thea, & Ainsberg, Arthur. (2010). Breakthrough : Elizabeth Hughes, the discovery of insulin, and the making of a medical miracle (1st ed.). New York: St. Martin's Press.
Karla, tom. (2013). Girl Who Died from Diabetes–Court Upholds Parents’ Conviction of Homicide!, Newspaper, DiabetesDad. Retrieved from http://diabetesdad.org/2013/07/03/girl-who-died-from-diabetes-court-upholds-parents-conviction-of-homicide/
Richmond, Todd (2013, July 3). Court upholds parents' convictions in prayer death, AP Reprint, BND.com. Retrieved from http://www.bnd.com/2013/07/03/2681159/court-upholds-parents-convictions.html
Click one of the URL links in the references to see a picture of this girl