An 8-year-old boy died from Hodgkin lymphoma in Cleveland in 2008 after his parents refused to take him to a doctor over a period of at least two years.
The parents have now been sentenced to eight years in prison following a last-minute plea deal in which they pleaded guilty to charges of attempted manslaughter.
As this case involves parents who abused drugs and may simply have not taken the time to take their child to get medical attention, it is not the same as other cases that involve children dying from relatively easily treated conditions without getting medical care. Those cases usually involve kids not getting medical care because of their parent's religious beliefs, including:
- a 16-year-old in Creswell, Oregon who died just before Christmas after being sick for less than a week
- a 17-year-old in Carlton, Washington who died in March 2009 with a burst appendix
- a newborn in Oregon who was born two months premature but died when he was only about nine hours old because his parents didn't seek medical attention
- a 15-month old in Oregon who died of pneumonia and a blood infection as her parents conducted faith-healing rituals, but didn't seek medical attention
- a 15-year-old who died who died two weeks after developing a urinary tract blockage
- an 11-year-old in Weston, Wisconsin who died of undiagnosed diabetes
- a newborn baby in Franklin, Indiana who died of a common infection less than two days after she was born
- a 15-year-old in Loudon, Tennessee who died with a basketball-sized growth on her shoulder
- a 13-year-old in Grand Junction, Colorado who died with untreated diabetes
- an 18-day-old in Clifton, Colorado who died of meningitis and pneumonia
- a 3-day-old in Clifton, Colorado who died with a treatable heart condition
Like the parents in Ohio, the convictions for most of these parents have ranged from misdemeanor criminal mistreatment to second degree manslaughter.
How common are these cases? A 1998 study in Pediatrics discovered at least 140 child deaths from religion motivated medical neglect between 1974 and 1994.
Surprisingly, about 30 states have criminal codes that provide some protection for parents who choose faith healing for their sick children and 17 states have religious defenses to felony crimes against children.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has urged state legislatures and regulatory agencies with interests in children to remove religious exemption clauses from statutes and regulations.