In a case that could define when faith healing crosses the line into criminal behavior, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of two parents convicted of homicide after opting for prayer over medical care when their daughter was dying of undiagnosed diabetes.
Her parents, Dale and Leilani Neumann, were convicted of second-degree reckless homicide in separate trials. In October of 2009 both were sentenced to 10 years probation and also ordered to spend 30 days in jail each year for six years. [...]
In their appeal, the Neumanns argue that the statute that allows parents to use faith healing as a defense in abuse and neglect cases is inconsistent because it doesn’t apply to homicide.
“Due process requires that people who wish to follow the law must be able to discern the boundary between what is legal and illegal,” says a summary of the argument contained in the appellate court decision to request that the case go straight to the Supreme Court, bypassing the appellate court.
The Neumanns argue that it’s unconstitutional to condone conduct under one statute and criminalize that same conduct under another. In other words, it’s unfair to say prayer is an acceptable alternative to medical care unless it doesn’t work and the child dies.
Madeline Kara Neumann, 12, died March 23, 2008, from complications of diabetic ketoacidosis, a treatable though serious condition of type 1 diabetes in which acid builds up in the blood.
The Neumanns say they did not know their daughter had diabetes.
Leilani Neumann later told The Associated Press that the family does not belong to any organized religion or faith but believes in the Bible and said that healing comes from God.
AP noted that it had found two postings under her name on the Web site AmericasLastDays.com, which is operated by Unleavened Bread Ministries, an evangelical ministry that focuses on the apocalypse and that equates the use of medicine with what the Bible refers to as ‘witchcraft.’
A family friend testified that Leilani thought sickness was caused by sin.