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When Religious Freedom Turns to Child Neglect

Posted in Uncategorized by Rodibidably on February 12, 2009

[Originally posted at: The Good Atheist]

There are currently an estimated 170 million people worldwide that suffer from diabetes. A few decades ago, this disease was destroying lives. Children diagnosed would slowly fade away, often dying of starvation even though they were eating plenty of food. The discovery of insulin, and later it’s manufacture, has allowed what would otherwise be a deadly disease to become only an inconvenience for those who suffer from it. In other words, diabetes is no longer the death sentence it was 60 years ago.

The availability of insulin, however, was not able to save poor Kara Neuman, who died Easter Sunday last year. Her parents are followers of the “Unleavened Bread Ministries“, an online church that forbids using modern medicine and preach that the End Times are near. Kara’s parents refused to call a doctor, even as their daughter lay dying in bed. She did not survive, and now the parents are being brought to trial for child neglect.

They have chosen to make this a First Amendment issue, asking that they be allowed to practice their religion without interference from the state. They say that they are grief stricken, and that they have already been punished enough by the tragic death of their young daughter.

I don’t doubt the fact that they loved their Kara very much, or that they feel terrible about the events that transpired. They are no doubt wrestling with their theological convictions as we speak. The problem is, that the decision not to seek treatment was not theirs to make. Sure, they are her parents, and as caregivers, they are allowed a great degree of flexibility in how they chose to deliver this care. However, their own personal religious convictions cannot interfere with the well being of another human being. Kara was her own person, and her right to have medical treatment outweighs the rights of her parents to live according to their religious doctrine.

[Read the rest of this post at: The Good Atheist]

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