Saturday, May 23, 2009

'God' motivated child abuse - on home 'schooling' and cancer care

Here is the story, some of which you might already have heard about: A 13 year old teenage boy in Minnesota, carefully brainwashed by his parents by means of 'God' enlightened home 'schooling', is diagnosed during a hospital visit with suffering from a form of cancer called Hodgkin's lymphoma. Just to be clear, 'God' here, for a change, isn't 'Jesus' or 'Allah' or Jehova', nope it's a fakeish American-Indian thingie called Nemenhah. That might make it more attractive to freewheeling hippies, but it's no less idiotic obviously. Thankfully, if diagnosed and treated in time, there's a very high likelihood that, with proper treatment - involving chemotherapy - the child patient would survive. The probability of successful medical care is in the vicinity of 85 to > 90%.

Well, the farm-based home-schooled child of God decides that it doesn't want chemotherapy anymore. The side-effects are unpleasant, and he saw his auntie die while on chemotherapy. The family seeks a second expert opinion that also confirms the high likelihood of success of chemotherapy. They kid won't have any of it (who cares about expert opinion when a teenage boy has strong views about cancer care, and he's duly supported (or coaxed into this) but his parents who believe in 'natural' remedies. A court thing ensues, as is wont in such cases, and the court orders the kid to be treated with allopathic medicines in order to preserve his life. This, of course, is perfectly fair enough, given the obvious child abuse that took place here. Comes Mom who grabs her boy and takes off to Mexico in search of further alternative cures. It's interesting how a combination of life-threatening illness and idiotic parents can actually kill children.

Some have argued that in this case perhaps religious belief shouldn't be criticised unduly, given that it might just be the pretext used by parents predisposed to using 'natural' remedies over mainstream medicine. I don't buy into this. In this case as well as others like it is very difficult to ascertain retrospectively what it is that existed first, belief in natural remedies as a result of religious conviction or religious belief leading to silly ideas about modern medicine. The point surely is that in both cases religious belief is central to the 'argument' rejecting life-preserving medical care.

Comes Mom and runs away with the son, reportedly to Mexico in order to find an alternative cure for the kid. Doctors confirm that time is running out for the kid, and that he's going to reach the point of no return any time soon. Invariably there has been discussion about religious freedom in this context. Frankly, I doubt it's about this, it's about parents clearly unable to make decisions that are in their child's objective best interest (it goes without saying probably, neither is the 13 year old teenager in question, seeing that he is already lacking any decent schooling). It does not matter whether their motive is a non-existent mainstream religion God or such a God's American-Indian alternative. It's irrelevant to a large extent - at this point in time - what motivates the parents and child. What is much more troublesome is that it could have got this far to begin with. The reassuring news is that in another case, where a mother prayed for her diabetic child instead of taking her to the hospital, she was found guilty of second degree reckless homicide.


  1. AnonymousMay 25, 2009

    Ms. Neumann is facing a 25-year prison term, thus depriving her remaining three children of a mother, and you find that "reassuring"? Sorry, Udo, that's just heartless. She didn't want her child to die. To me, that verdict is a travesty of justice.

  2. hey clara :) good to hear from you! i disagree on this. we have a clear case of child abuse here (good intentions or no), there's a high likelihood that this child abuse could result into the death of the child in question. should we let her get off scotch-free because she's a well-intentioned idiot? the kids dad would still be there to look after them in any case. who knows what Mom would do next time one of her other kids gets sick... would you want to take your chances on that one?

  3. AnonymousMay 25, 2009

    Hehehe, Udo ... didn't you mean "scot-free"? While my personal take on this is that people like Ms. Neumann shouldn't even be in the gene pool, I do believe a suspended sentence would be in order. Then, if there IS a next time ...

  4. ha, scot-free, you're probably right :)

  5. pebird@pacbell.netMay 29, 2009

    I don't know, being deprived of that kind of mother might keep those other 3 kids alive a lot longer.

    Sometimes ethics requires heartless choices.

    I think a suspended sentence for manslaughter (intentional or otherwise) is a bit light. Now if you want to use religious belief as an insanity defense, that might work - as long as goes to hospital for a few years.

  6. ummm...what happenned to the dad?


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