The name of the little girl in the picture is Madeline Neumann. She is dead because her parents chose to treat her recent illness, which included serious symptoms like vomiting, loss of appetite, and weakness, through prayer rather than taking her to see a doctor. Madeline died on Sunday at her home in Weston, Wisconsin from, an autopsy showed, complications of undiagnosed diabetes. Other members of the family had pleaded without success with Madeline's parents, Leilani and Dale Neumann, to seek medical attention for the girl. Finally, Madeline's aunt — who lives in California — called a sheriff's dispatcher and had police and paramedics rushed to the home. Less than an hour after they arrived, Madeline was declared dead.
This is the textbook definition of a meaningless death. The girl's mother claims not to belong to any particular organized religion, and says she does not mistrust doctors. She merely believes in the Bible, and that healing comes from God.
Our society, including our government, our police and rescue workers, must stop respecting choices and behavior that result in the death of innocent people, that defy all reason, simply because they are claimed as religious beliefs. These parents claim not to be religious fanatics, yet they stood by for a month while their 11 year-old daughter died right before their eyes. Prior to this, Madeline had not seen a doctor since age 3. Had her mother and father bothered to take her to occasional medical check-ups, her diabetes would have been diagnosed and treated, and Madeline — I think it's safe to assume — would not have died while her parents stood by and watched.
Her parents believe that healing comes from God, that prayer can bring about recovery from illness. This is not true. I have nothing against prayer, but it must be practiced responsibly, with full awareness of what it is, and what it isn't. If you pray to settle your mind, to meditate, to give yourself comfort and strength, because you believe it connects you to a higher power, that's fine. I'm all for it. Go, pray. But if you believe that your prayers alone can affect demonstrable, physical change in the world, you are mistaken. That isn't a matter of believe. That's a falsifiable claim — no, it's not even that, because it's been falsified over and over and over again, every time it's been tested. It's a false hypothesis.
Prayer does not work the way the parents of Madeline Neumann believe it does. It never has, it never will. There is no argument. This little girl died because her parents were foolish enough to believe that their prayers would be enough to heal her of the disease that was killing her, a disease they didn't even know the name of until after their daughter had been disected on a table in a morgue. This is negligence, this is a crime, and these people should be punished for it. So should any other parent who allows a child to die while they pray for a healing that will never come. There is no excuse.
Maybe we need PSAs. Those seem to fix everything. They sure took care of AIDS and the drug problem, anyway. We need someone with balls enough to stand up in front of a camera in one of those "The More You Know" spots and say flat-out, "Prayer doesn't work. It never has. It never will. If your child is sick, take her to a doctor." If they can't get anyone from E.R. or The Office to do it, I'll volunteer.
The proper and official news report on this story is right here, along with a link to a video version.