The Associated Press is reporting that a Pennsylvania couple whose faith forbids seeking any form of medical treatment were charged this Wednesday in the pneumonia-related death of their 2-year old daughter. Apparently, they are not the first members of their church to be prosecuted for failing to get medical care for a dying child.
According to Jonathan and Grace Foster, their daughter, Ella Grace, died because it was “God’s will.”
“Our laws recognize that you have a duty to care for your child’s health and welfare, and we cannot justify a parent not seeking health care for their children when their children are ill,” Berks County District Attorney John Adams said.
From the AP:
The Fosters were released on unsecured bail and are back home with their six other young children. Adams said the parents have agreed to take their children to doctors when they are sick. Child welfare officials are monitoring compliance, he said.
The parents told investigators they belong to the Faith Tabernacle church in Mechanicsburg, and that “as part of their faith they do not believe in any medical treatment,” including medication and doctors, according to court documents.
This tragedy is not new to Pennsylvania. At least 10 children who belong to the Foster’s sect have died from preventable illnesses over the last few decades, resulting in several prosecutions.
Testimony from a forensic pathologist revealed that Ella would have had a 95 percent chance of survival with a standard dose of antibiotics. But the father said taking her to the doctor would be “frowned upon and against their religion,” according to an affidavit.
“I hope that the members of this church understand that authorities, such as our office, will not tolerate children not receiving medical care,” Adams said.
Experts say about a dozen U.S. children die each year when their parents rely on faith healing over western medicine.