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Prayers are no proxy for modern meds

by Archives March 3, 2009

EDMONTON (CUP) – Last March in rural Wisconsin, an 11-year-old girl named Kara Neumann died. Even more tragically, she died of diabetic ketoacidosis as a result of undiagnosed juvenile diabetes. Had she visited a hospital, she could have easily been diagnosed and treated.
But unfortunately for Kara Neumann, her parents felt that things like hospitals and doctors are for people of weaker faith than they. The Neumanns believed that although their young daughter was too weak to move or even speak by the end, she was showing signs of recovery. Medical help was finally called by an aunt in California, who was apparently more concerned about the child’s health than her own parents were.
Now the Marathon County state attorney is hitting the Neumanns with reckless endangerment charges – legal action that the parents claim violates their constitutional right to religious freedom.
So the question lies in whether the right to religious freedom outweighs the crime of endangering your child. For most of us with more moderate belief systems, the answer is obvious.
Leilani and Dale Neumann, and their supporters at their online faith outreach group called Unleavened Bread Ministries feel that there was nothing wrong with the actions taken before Kara Neumann’s death. The website helptheneumanns.com hypothesizes that if the Neumanns had taken Kara to the hospital, she would have been misdiagnosed and would have died anyways.
They argue that legal action wouldn’t be taken in this case, as if that has any relevance to what actually happened. If a misdiagnosis occurred, the hospital would be culpable and should be held responsible, but the parents would have done everything right. If the Neumanns had taken some sort of proactive approach to getting their daughter as healthy as an 11-year-old should be, then there wouldn’t be an issue at all. But apparently, there are still people out there who consider the Neumanns sitting at home to be the better option.
Is it so difficult to consider that a higher power called God may have blessed the doctors living on our planet with the healing touch a sick child actually needs, a touch involving pharmaceuticals invented by equally blessed scientists? Why not pray that God helps the doctors diagnose her correctly or that medication helps her recover quickly. Praying that God heal your very ill child with no outside help is a hefty order – one might even call it asking for a miracle.
At 11-years old, Kara Neumann was likely intelligent enough to make her own decisions on the matter of whether she’d prefer to go see a doctor with the insulin she needed, or pray all day. It’s unfortunate that she was too weak to speak up for herself as she lay dying in her family’s home.
Instead, her parents made an executive decision for her – a foolish, na’ve, and reckless one.
Supporters of the parents have flocked to speak on the Neumanns’ website, claiming to find solace in thoughts of how “Jesus never sent the sick to a doctor” and “God wanted his angel Kara back in heaven.” These are simply not viable excuses for letting a little girl die of a treatable condition.
It’s bad enough that Kara Neumann hadn’t been taken to see a doctor since she was three years old, but the fact that they refused to get their child medical attention when she desperately and obviously needed it is inexcusable. It’s unimaginable that two parents could sit there and watch their child waste away, keeping steadfast in the thought that mere words and faith might save them when a doctor in town could have actually done so.

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