Wisconsin Supreme Court upholds faith healing conviction

The case of faith healing parents reached the Wisconsin highest court. They ruled the conviction stands.

Court upholds homicide convictions of parents who chose prayers for dying daughter over medical care : Madisondotcom.

A mother and father who prayed instead of seeking medical help as their daughter died in front of them were properly convicted of homicide, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.

Eleven-year-old Madeline Kara Neumann died of undiagnosed diabetes on Easter Sunday in March 2008 at her parents’ Weston home. Prosecutors said her parents, Dale and Leilani Neuman, ignored obvious symptoms of severe illness as their daughter became too weak to speak, eat, drink or walk, choosing to pray rather than take her to a doctor. After the girl died, Leilani Neumann told police God would raise the child from the dead.

As we previously reported on this story: 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. The original case suggested that religious exemptions were given preferential treatment. A child died because of their belief. It does not matter if it’s religious or some other supernatural. It was dangerous.

Doctors had testified that the child would have benefitted from medical care.

This case is important because it emphasizes that religious rights only go so far. When the child’s life is in danger, the immunity ends. This ruling does give guidance to other states with similar cases. Religious immunity is not an excuse. It is criminal to withhold medical care for a child.

A prudent course of action is for communities to reach out to these local religious sects that they know subscribe to faith healing and make it VERY clear that medical care is an obligation for which they are NOT exempt.

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  5 comments for “Wisconsin Supreme Court upholds faith healing conviction

  1. One Eyed Jack
    July 3, 2013 at 12:14 PM

    It’s a step in the right direction, but that sentence is BS. You kill a child, get 6 months jail time, and still keep custody of your other children.

    Count down until this family is back in the news for harming one of their other children…

  2. Dang
    July 3, 2013 at 12:47 PM

    The sentence definitely doesn’t seem to fit the crime. What I found scary was the statement, “More than a dozen states have some form of legal protection for parents who choose prayer healing for their children over conventional medical attention.”

  3. Bob Rupp-Kilgore
    July 3, 2013 at 5:08 PM

    You never know with the Wisconsin Supreme Court, they are a pretty conservative bunch.

  4. Peebs
    July 3, 2013 at 5:37 PM

    This side of the Pond, if we have a case like this, the child is usually made a Ward of Court and all further treatment is approved by that Court.

    Admittedly it’s usually JWs and, from what I read about this, it would have been too late for any viable medical intervention but it does beg the question;

    Is there any similar statute over there?

  5. One Eyed Jack
    July 4, 2013 at 3:24 AM

    Is there any similar statute over there?

    Sadly, no. Laws vary from state to state. There is no federal law specifically addressing this issue.

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