Saturday, August 1, 2009

Man allows daughter to die while praying

This week (August 2009) a US jury found a man guilty of allowing his his sick 11-year-old daughter to die by praying for her recovery rather than seeking medical care. Dale Neumann, from Wisconsin, was convicted of second-degree reckless homicide of Madeline after he arranged for prayer meetings and put his trust in faith healing rather than seeking medical advice. It was later found that the girl was suffering from undiagnosed diabetes which could have been easily treated with insulin. In similar circumstances, in July 2009, a jury in Oregon convicted a man of criminal mistreatment for relying on prayer instead of seeking medical care for his 15-month-old daughter who died of pneumonia and a blood infection.

The Neumann story, as reported by the BBC can be found here.

Its a sad story all round, I thought; not least because he thought he was doing what was best for his daughter. Many people would argue he was misguided, foolish or naive - but he now faces up to 25 years in prison for his actions. The prosecution argued that he was 'overwhelmed by pride' in his interpretation of the Bible and selfishly let Madeline die as a test of faith. I'm interested in hearing any thoughts on this story, on this blog or in class - particularly the implication that these days it is for our court systems to decide on questions of ethics. Interest in alternative medicine and faith healing appears to be growing and it could be argued in some cases has provided cures where conventional medicine couldn't. Does this mean that anybody who prefers to put their faith in non-conventional treatments could be seen as being criminally negligent?

1 comment:

GodBotherer said...

Yes, it does and should - in reply to the very last line.

If people want to blow fifty quid a month on silly therapies, of course that's up to them. The claims made by the supplier might lead to criminal charges if proved false, and rightly so.

This stupid man allowed hid daughter to die based on his interpretation of a book. Just because that particular interpretation is shared by many others does not make it OK. To pinch Sam Harris' reasoning from 'The End of Faith', what if I started making life or death decisions based on a film? How about Star Wars? Having told my daughter that she could cross the road without looking because The Force would protect her, I could then try to stop the internal bleeding using that same force.

Punishment for this negligence should be based on forseeable consequences, not on intrinsic irrationality. If your ridiculous actions lead to your looking a twat and parting with lots of money, then who cares? If your action leads to a preventable death or suffering then prosecute.

It's not as if the required treatment was controversial or experimental; it was established, evidence based and, most likely, effective.

Forseeable consequences, my dears, are the thing. I wonder if this dangerous fool (and his lame-brained wife) are rationalizing their daughter's death as the will of God.