Neumann prayer death at center of legislation - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Neumann prayer death at center of legislation

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by Colby Robertson

WAUSAU (WAOW) -- Last year Dale and Leilani Neumann of Weston were both found guilty of second-degree reckless homicide for not taking their 11-year-old daughter Kara to the doctor. She died of undiagnosed diabetes in 2008.

That case is now at the center of two competing bills in Madison. State lawmakers want an end to religious exemption. They want to protect children.

Rep. Donna Seidel (D-Wausau) says, "We're talking about situations where children are very ill and at very serious risk."

Rep. Seidel is the co-sponsor of a bill authored by Representative Terese Berceau. It would allow prosecutors to charge parents with child abuse if they refuse medical help for their children on religious grounds.

In 2008 11-year-old Kara Neumann's life tragically ended too soon. Her parents prayed over her instead of taking her to the doctor.

Rep. Seidel says protecting children like Kara is central to this proposal.

Rep. Seidel says, "If your child is very ill, if your child is at risk or suffering needlessly or dying then you as the caretaker, you as the parent must in fact seek out medical attention that could save that child's life."

Seidel says social workers, district attorneys and medical professionals have all gotten behind the Assembly's version of the bill.

However, some opponents feel it's an attempt to stifle religious practices between parents and their children.

Joseph Farkas is the legislative and media liaison for the Wisconsin Christian Science Community. He says, "The protection of children is paramount importance. But I think laws can be passed that protect children, but still don't discriminate against parents who effectively and reasonably use spiritual healing in non-serious cases."

Attorney Don Hermanson teaches the controversial topic of faith healing at UWMC. He says ultimately it's all about balance.

Don Hermanson says, "The states obligation to let people believe whatever they want to believe with the states obligation to protect everyone and especially children."

This legislation essentially clears up legal misunderstandings with faith healing and parents rights with charges. What it doesn't touch is how to get kids the treatment they need early enough, so they don't die.

Online Reporter: Colby Robertson

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