A controversial child custody matter has shined a spotlight on the conflict between the state's responsibility to protect the interests of children and the right of parents to dictate how their children will be raised. Parents in Florida and across the country are closely watching the case, as the outcome could impact parental rights and religious freedom for all Americans. At the center of the matter is the tragic death of a 2-year-old child, and the choices made by her parents in the days prior to her death.
The little girl became ill and developed pneumonia, a condition that can be easily treated with a course of common antibiotics. However, the toddler's parents belong to a religious sect that preaches against the use of medical services. Those beliefs led the parents to avoid seeking medical care for their daughter, who ultimately was unable to survive her condition.
Both parents were arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter, as well as endangering the welfare of a child. They subsequently surrendered custody of their six surviving children to the state. Those children will be placed in the care of a foster family who will be entrusted with providing for any medical needs that may arise.
Currently, the parents are focused on responding to the serious criminal charges against them. However, it is expected that they will fight to regain custody of their children once that matter is resolved. For parents in Florida and across the nation, the case serves as a tragic reminder of the conflicts that can occur when religious belief is contradictory to a state's parenting standards.
Source: readingeagle.com, "Berks couple charged in daughter's death will give up custody of other six children", Stephanie Weaver, Feb. 16, 2017