Equal treatment under the law is a cornerstone of our government—but one group of humans doesn’t get the same treatment as everyone else.
What does being born change about a child? Speaking strictly scientifically, nothing of consequence. A child minutes before birth is the same as a child minutes after birth: same physical capabilities, same level of development, both highly dependent on others, they even look more or less the same. Both dream, suck their thumbs, respond to mom’s voice, and feel pain.
But when it comes to both federal and state law, the difference between an unborn baby and a born one is huge. For example, how we prosecute cases of wrongful infant death.
Last week, the Washington Post gave an example that breaks my heart for many reasons. Sarah and Travis Mitchell of Oregon were sentenced to six years in prison for criminally negligent homicide because they refused to seek medical care for their premature baby girl, Ginnifer. Born at just 32 weeks, at just 3 pounds 6 ounces, Ginnifer died hours after birth of fully treatable complications. Her twin survived and is now in foster care.
See, her parents are part of a Pentecostal faith-healing sect that teaches members to pray instead of securing modern medical treatment. Clackamas County officials say the Mitchells are the fifth family in their church in nine years to face similar criminal charges for failing to take a sick or injured child to the hospital.
One former member of the church told the Oregonian newspaper that “they have their own graveyard, and it’s just full of children,” children who, by all accounts, would still be alive if their parent had sought the help of doctors.
Now, this story brings up many tough issues. For example, being well-intentioned and sincere—as I’m sure the Mitchells are—is not enough. It cost their baby her life. And there are limits to religious freedom. The government is right, in this case, to intervene so that children do not continue to die.
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Source: Christian Post