Wisconsin Supreme Court to take up faith healing case where child died

Wisconsin state Supreme Court will rule on this case of faith healing over medical intervention.

Prayer-death case heads to Supreme Court.

The state Supreme Court announced Wednesday that it will hear the case involving a Weston couple whose daughter died after they chose to pray for her recovery.

Dale and Leilani Neumann were convicted of second-degree reckless homicide in separate trials in 2009 after their daughter, Madeline Kara Neumann, 11, died. The Neumann’s argued they believed in faith healing, and prayed for Kara’s recovery instead of seeking medical attention.

After their trials, the Neumann’s argued the jury instructions violated their constitutional rights.

But, the state argued that the prayer exception does not apply in this case because the child was sick and the parents had a medical obligation to their child.

Tip: @Blue_wode on Twitter

Madeline Kara Neumann, 11, of Wisconsin, died of undiagnosed diabetes on March 23, 2008. The parents were charged with second-degree reckless homicide and convicted. Here is the original story from the NY Times. They were sentenced to 30 days in jail each year for the next six years and were placed on 10 years’ probation. Weird sentence. They have other children but were apparently required to provide medical services for them as part of the sentence. This was an interesting quote from a legal professor:

“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.”

What a mess. It’s clearly time we stop deferring to religious rights when lives are at stake. It’s hoped that a WI Supreme Court ruling will be decisive at least for that state.

  3 comments for “Wisconsin Supreme Court to take up faith healing case where child died

  1. June 28, 2012 at 9:29 PM

    Extremely obscure trivia that has an extremely tenuous connection to this:

    The Wisconsin Supreme Court chambers contains several murals of historic judgments. In the scene from Roman times, the life model for one of the Roman senators was physicist Robert Wood Williams, who once taught at UW in Madison and is also the man who debunked “N Rays”.

  2. Taylor
    June 29, 2012 at 6:57 PM

    As a resident of Wisconsin I am relatively familiar with the case, and yet i’m still in disbelief that it’s made it this far in the system. I’m all for religion, i’m a believer myself, but maybe you think that God could work through the doctors to heal your daughter? It’s things like this that really make me wonder about the Politics in this state….

  3. Vin
    June 29, 2012 at 9:49 PM

    I think an lot of this stems from America not having a free health care system (I live in Australia and our system works fairly well)…..well it IS cheaper just to pray for a cure than to actually pay …gasp….”Big Pharma” to cure you of your ailment!!! This unfortunate scenario rarely happens in Australia, which has a free health care system. I wonder if there are less deaths from ‘faith healings’ in countries with free/subsidised Healthcare, maybe someone could find some stats on that?

    This remind’s me of that horrific story of that poor little 9yr old ex-pat Australian girl, who’s father and step-mum put her through a wood-chipper somewhere in the USA a couple years ago (it was big news here in Oz obviously). The treatment for her rare form of cancer, which she had already survived once, at the cost of a leg, was free in Australia, the American step-mum probably didn’t want to/couldn’t pay the massive cost of treatment in the USA when she relapsed……cheaper to go to WalMart and buy a wood-chipper)

Comments are closed.