Medicine, Faith, and Parenting

What do you think? Should parents be allowed to decline medical attention for their children? Post your thoughts below.

The Neumann case in which a child died from DKA could lead to guidelines in what is currently a vague area of the law.

Feb 6, 2009

Last March, an 11-year-old Wisconsin girl, Kara Neumann, died from diabetic ketoacidosis (a serious complication of diabetes that results when glucose is unavailable to the body as a fuel source, fat is used instead, and toxic byproducts of fat breakdown, called ketones, build up). Kara had undiagnosed type 1 diabetes. She was never treated by medical professionals because her parents believe that only God can heal the sick. They prayed for their daughter's health, but they did not seek medical attention.

According to The New York Times, a family member living out of state finally called the sheriff's department near the girl's residence. An ambulance was summoned, but Kara died before reaching the hospital.

A month after Kara's death, the Marathon County state attorney charged her parents, Dale and Leilani Neumann, with reckless endangerment. Although the Neumanns have claimed that the charges violate their constitutional right to religious freedom, Judge Howard, the county circuit court judge, has ordered them to stand trial independently this May and June. If convicted, they face up to 25 years in prison.

Judge Howard, who noted that the First Amendment "protects religious belief, but not necessarily conduct," is also quoted in The Times as ruling that "Wisconsin law exempts a parent or guardian who treats a child with only prayer from...child welfare laws, but only as long as a condition is not life-threatening." He added that Kara's parents "were very well aware of her deteriorating medical condition." The Court has ordered regular medical visits for the couple's three other children. 

Shawn Peters, the author of three books on religion and the law, told The Times that the case will hinge on "whether the parents could have known the seriousness of their daughter's condition." He also said that "the outcome of the Neumann case is likely to set an important precedent." 

You can read more about the Neumann story at

Source: The New York Times

Tell us what you think by posting your comments below.

Click Here To View Or Post Comments

Categories: Diabetes, Diabetes, Government & Policy, Hospital Care, Kids & Teens, Type 1 Issues

Take the Diabetes Health Pump Survey
See What's Inside
Read this FREE issue now
For healthcare professionals only

You can view the current or previous issues of Diabetes Health online, in their entirety, anytime you want.
Click Here To View

See if you qualify for our free healthcare professional magazines. Click here to start your application for Pre-Diabetes Health, Diabetes Health Pharmacist and Diabetes Health Professional.

Learn More About the Professional Subscription

Free Diabetes Health e-Newsletter

Top Rated
Print | Email | Share | Comments (12)

You May Also Be Interested In...


Posted by Anonymous on 9 February 2009

Unfortunately, anybody can procreate.. even people not intelligent enough or too self centered to care for their child. I am glad the authorities are involved now & only wish they could have been involved sooner..

Posted by Anonymous on 10 February 2009

And your point is what?
More government intervention?
"There ought to be a law"?
Religious parents should be prevented from having or raising children?
Government mandated medical insurance should be inflicted upon everyone?
Why do you not state your collectivist desires? Your fine President does.

Posted by Anonymous on 10 February 2009

I, too, have a daughter that is a type 1, and I, too, I prayed for her healing, but I never once thought that I would not give her her insulin, or monitor her blood sugar. I know that some may say that I just did not have enough faith, but I beleive that if the Lord was going to heal her that I would see it in her glucose levels and hypoglycemic episodes. My daugther has gone into DKA, and I can not imagine watching her die that awful death.

Mother of a type 1 and a believer

Posted by Jerry1423 on 10 February 2009

I am from Wisconsin and heard about this story the day that it broke. I have been a type 1 diabetic since age 13 so it was not hard for me to relate to what Kara dealt with. I have a strong belief in God.
My first reaction to the story was the terrible suffering that she went through for many weeks ... the constant unquechable thirst, the running to the bathroom, and the weakness & fatigue.
I then thought about her idiotic parents for letting this happen to her. They were waiting for a miracle cure. What they did not realize is that the miracle was there waiting for them.
I consider it a miracle that a diabetic can live a perfectly normal life with the proper care. I also consider the birth of a child to be a miracle. It's these everyday miracles that people take for granted, and sometimes don't realize how valuable they are.

Posted by Anonymous on 10 February 2009

I have a type 1 diabetic daughter that has had it since she was 4. I could not even imagine what Kara went though with out the proper medical attention that she needed. I pray for a cure everyday for my daughter and for others with diabetes but I would never not once not give her the proper care that she needs the insluin and the constant glucose checking. I think Kara death is a horrible and sad tradedy. And also think her parents should be held responsible for it.

Posted by Anonymous on 10 February 2009

What can I say??!! These parents are either insane or complete and utter idiots! What sort of behavior is that, to let their daughter die because they thought they'd be handed a miracle? It's irresponsible at the least. At the most...

Diabetes is a disease, a physical problem. A miracle would be one in a million; they could obviously tell their daughter's condition was worsening; why the hell did they not go to a doctor?

It's sad that there are fewer laws to prevent this. To those who have opposition to this view, such as the one who wrote 'Should religious parents be banned from having children?': WAKE UP! Religion can be combined with modern technology. It wouldn't be a breach of faith to take the course that's proven to work- insulin and hospital treatment- instead of praying for the impossible.

Kara Neumann could have and should have lived. There should be more laws about this type of incident.

Posted by Anonymous on 11 February 2009

This unfortunate death has more to it than we are being told at this time. Obviously the parents have issues and should be evaluated by a psychologist. How are the other children? Is there a history of abuse? Have they ever brought themselves or any of their children to seek medical care? if the answer is yes, then the only logical conclusion is abuse, neglect and homicide and are using their belief as their excuse. It is a shame that their neighbors, friends, family or CHURCH did not get involved sooner.

Posted by Anonymous on 12 February 2009

Who knows if legislation would help stop this happening again?
Maybe better education, responsibility and awareness for all the people who should have cared for her.
Why didn't her teachers, school-friends and relatives do anything? Were they too frightened of offending her parents? Or was she totally isolated from normal outside contact?
It is a very sad case.

Posted by Anonymous on 14 February 2009

Grampa Gilley,
Totally Frustrating.
Aside from ANYTHING else, I have personally demonstrated that with ADEQUATE levels
of the Amino Acid L-Carnitine ketoacidosis
does NOT occur.
Please Note: For trial purposes use CAPSULES
NOT "tablets". The capsules
WILL dissolve and WILL promptly
release their contents!

Posted by bernus on 15 February 2009

It's called common sense.
You don't need the government to tell you to take your daughter to the hospital when she's ill.
But how do you explain that to people who believe in "imaginary friends"? This is why mysticism and reason can't mix.
When you mix evil and good, it is always evil that wins.

Posted by Anonymous on 25 February 2009

anyone who can watch a child suffer like that and not seek help which is a miracle in its self deserves to be locked up. no adult would be able to watch a child die and not seek help they are using the church as an excuse.

Posted by Anonymous on 14 August 2009

This is bullshit. I can't believe that her parents would do that to her... I mean we will pray for her healing what is this lala land? I do feel bad for kara and I know what she was going through. Her parents seem to have noticed something was not right and the seem to have refused to get medical help

Add your comments about this article below. You can add comments as a registered user or anonymously. If you choose to post anonymously your comments will be sent to our moderator for approval before they appear on this page. If you choose to post as a registered user your comments will appear instantly.

When voicing your views via the comment feature, please respect the Diabetes Health community by refraining from comments that could be considered offensive to other people. Diabetes Health reserves the right to remove comments when necessary to maintain the cordial voice of the diabetes community.

For your privacy and protection, we ask that you do not include personal details such as address or telephone number in any comments posted.

Don't have your Diabetes Health Username? Register now and add your comments to all our content.

Have Your Say...

Username: Password:
©1991-2014 Diabetes Health | Home | Privacy | Press | Advertising | Help | Contact Us | Donate | Sitemap

Diabetes Health Medical Disclaimer

The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images, and information, contained on or available through this website is for general information purposes only. Opinions expressed here are the opinions of writers, contributors, and commentators, and are not necessarily those of Diabetes Health. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website.