Radio Times

Should refusing medical care for children be considered neglect?

May 14, 2013

Guests:  Paul Offit and Shawn Peters

Eight-month old Brandon Schaible died last month after his parents relied on prayer instead of medical care to treat their sick baby. The Schaibles, who live in Philadelphia and are members of a fundamentalist Christian church, are currently on probation surrounding the death of another child in 2009 who was unvaccinated and whose bacterial pneumonia went untreated. The couples seven other children have been removed from the home and are now in foster care. In many states across the country, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, parents are shielded from prosecution when they deny medical care to their children, even if a child dies of an easily treated illness. In this hour of Radio Times we’ll ask if parents have the right to refuse medical treatment for their children.  And if they do, should this “medical neglect” be considered child abuse and punishable as such under the law? Our guests are PAUL OFFIT, Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and SHAWN PETERS from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and author of the book When Prayer Fails:  Faith Healing, Children and the Law.

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