Saturday, July 31, 2010

Sharia Law - Bad; Special Treatment for Fundies Who Kill Their Kids - Good

Newt Gingrich's most recent bedwetting about Sharia law provides a nice background to this ugly story:
OREGON CITY – An Oregon City couple will face charges of second-degree manslaughter in the faith-healing death of their newborn son, the third such fatality involving the Followers of Christ church in the past two years.


Their infant son was born in September, 2009, about six weeks premature. He weighed 3 pounds, 5 ounces and lived nine hours.

No one with medical training attended the birth, and no one called a doctor or ambulance. An autopsy determined the infant died of staph pneumonia and complications from a premature birth, including underdeveloped lungs.

The medical examiner noted the presence of a bacterial infection, which could have caused the amniotic sac to rupture, or the water to break as the event is commonly called.


"Mr. and Mrs. Hickman are presumed innocent," defense attorney Mark Cogan said. "The government has the burden of proving the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. We have not seen the evidence yet."


In 1999, the Legislature passed a law that eliminated religious protections in cases of second-degree manslaughter and first- and second-degree criminal mistreatment. The law left religious immunity in place for some other crimes but gave prosecutors more options for charging parents in such cases.
Here's the law:
Friday, July 23, 1999 ... House Bill 2494 passed 24-2 and heads to the desk of Gov. John Kitzhaber, who is expected to sign it.

HB2494 eliminates the spiritual healing defense against charges of second-degree manslaughter, first- and second-degree criminal mistreatment and nonpayment of child support.

In a key compromise, the bill eliminates the mandatory minimum 75-month prison sentence for second-degree manslaughter in faith-healing cases. The bill largely leaves the sentence up to the judge.

"We have a constitutional right to die for our religious convictions," said Sen. Peter Courtney, D-Salem, who carried the bill on the Senate floor. "We don't have a constitutional right to make our children do so."
As the parents' attorney states, these are just charges, and have yet to be proven. The parents may argue that their child would have died with medical treatment, that the ME's observations were wrong, etc. However, if they're convicted, and claim that they've already suffered enough, 75 months shouldn't be the half of it.

The point of this post is that this law gives preferential treatment to Christian fundamentalists(*), and it was enacted with overwhelming support in the state Legislature. While Newt blathers about the non-existent threat of Sharia law, he and his ilk aren't bothered by existing laws which have real consequences.

* Obviously, most fundies don't rely on faith healing, particularly when it's their own asses on line, or even for their children. But the exception to the law was written for a particular brand of Christian fundies.

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