Kara Neumann, 11, had grown so weak that she could not walk or speak. Her parents, who believe that God alone has the ability to heal the sick, prayed for her recovery but did not take her to a doctor.
After an aunt from California called the sheriff’s department... an ambulance arrived ... and rushed Kara to the hospital. She was pronounced dead on arrival.
The Twitchell Case was the most prominent of a series of criminal cases in the late 1980s and early 1990s in which parents who were members of the Christian Science Church were prosecuted for the deaths of children whose medical conditions had been treated only by Christian Science treatment.
In 1988, Massachusetts prosecutors charged David and Ginger Twitchell with manslaughter in the 1986 death of their two-year-old son Robyn.
Robyn Twitchell died of a peritonitis caused by a bowel obstruction that medical professionals declared would have been easily correctable.
The Twitchells' defense contended that the couple were within their First Amendment rights to treat their son's illness with prayer and that Massachusetts had recognized this right in an exemption to the statute outlawing child neglect.
The Twitchells were convicted of involuntary manslaughter. They were sentenced to ten years probation and required to bring their remaining children to regular visits to a pediatrician. The conviction was overturned in 1993.
The Twitchell case, and others like it, have become rallying points for both people who criticize religious exemptions to child neglect laws, and those who believe that the government oversteps its bounds when it prosecutes people who believe that prayer is a legitimate alternative to medical treatment.
I just worry about who determines who is deluded.
I don't imagine that anyone would be condemning particular religious confessions--i would think it would all hinge on the welfare of the child, without reference to confessional adherence.
There are currently two cases in the courts here that I've been watching; both cases could have been easily treated with antibiotics, both families were members of the same sect (not Christian Scientists).
One was a girl who was 6 or 7. The other was a boy who was 16 or 17.
It is said that the boy, as a member of the sect, did not want treatment. In this case, even though it's a minor child, I'm not sure if the family should be prosecuted.
In the case of the little girl I think they should throw every child endangerment, neglect, whatever other crimes they can think up at them.
On the other hand....
There is also a situation here where a girl, about 11, refused any further cancer treatments even though her parents wanted her to continue. They let her quit.
I think they're nuts but it points out that it isn't always about religion.
I'm not sure when a child should be able to call the shots regarding their own healthcare or lack of healthcare. Its very confusing.
The notion of "respecting" the beliefs of others is so over-done...it makes me want to puke.
How many people "respect" the "beliefs" of people like Hitler, Stalin, Caligula, Nero, Napoleon, or Idi Amin?