Your Beliefs or Your Child’s Life?

by Leighann on October 7, 2009

On Tuesday I asked which is easier to compromise when it comes to a life-threatening medical condition: your beliefs or your health?

The beliefs I referred to–vegetarianism and environmentalism–I think are easily put to the side when it comes to what’s in the best interest for your child. You treat your child to save her life.

The minute we received our daughter’s diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes and were told that it was an immediate concern requiring a spur of the moment trip to a children’s hospital almost two hundred miles away, not for one second did we question her need for urgent care.

I like to think that we are not alone. I like to think that all parents would step up to the plate to seek treatment for a sick child. To sacrifice where they have to to pay for expensive medications and treatments if that’s what would keep their child alive or well.

Unfortunately some parents put their belief in God above caring for their own child.

I am not a strongly religious person, but I have to believe that God would want my child to live.

You may have heard of the Neumanns who held their beliefs more precious than the life of their child.

(The following is from The New York Times.)

The parents, Dale and Leilani Neumann, were ordered to spend 30 days in jail each year for the next six years and were placed on 10 years’ probation. Mr. Neumann, 47, and Ms. Neumann, 41, who live in Weston, in central Wisconsin, had been convicted of second-degree reckless homicide in August.

Their daughter, Madeline Kara Neumann, 11, died from untreated diabetes on March 23, 2008, the authorities said. When the girl became ill and could no longer walk or talk, her parents prayed for her instead of taking her to a doctor, prosecutors said.

Peters, a lecturer at the University of Wisconsin at Madison who has studied the nexus of religion and the law, said the Neumanns’ sentencing was not unusual.

Experts said there had been at least 50 convictions in the United States since 1982 in cases where medical treatment was withheld from a child for religious reasons.

“The sentences tend to be halfway punishments where you have relatively mild penalties imposed on parents who are found to be legally guilty of having caused a child’s death,” Mr. Peters said. “It underscores how uneasy we are both politically and culturally when it comes to regulating religious conduct even when the consequences are disastrous.”

For me, the health of my children comes before any belief system that I may have. In fact if I could trade places with my daughter, I would.

I am sad to see that a child with diabetes died needlessly because her parents would not take her to the doctor. The fact that she could no longer walk or talk tells me (and I am no medical professional, just a mom who faces diabetes head on every day) that they had failed to test her blood glucose levels and deliver appropriate insulin for quite some time.

To me, that is criminal.

When faced with a life-or-death situation in a child, of course pray if you want to, but leave the healing to the doctors.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Midwest Mom October 8, 2009 at 6:41 am

I agree — withholding treatment from a child is criminal. As a parent who loves my children more than anything else on this earth, I cannot imagine what could drive a parent to ignore a child's needs this way.

– Julia at Midwest Moms

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2 Serenity Now! October 11, 2009 at 6:05 pm

I agree… I have a strong belief in God and I feel that he gave people the gift of healing… and they became doctors to help heal. There are things that we are striken with that cannot be healed and must simply be managed or dealt with. Sometimes God isn't giving us straight up healing …

There's just so many things wrong with withholding treatment …

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3 Lisa October 18, 2010 at 2:17 pm

I am religious, and have found great comfort in prayer since my little man’s diagnosis. However, there’s a beautiful scripture in the bible that says “But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2:20) To me this means that we can and should put faith in a loving Father in Heaven to care for our little D children WHILE we are doing all that we can to take care of them, like He has entrusted us to do. God has blessed us with modern medicine, why wouldn’t He want us to use it?

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