death in yet another "faith healing" family in the US. The family apparently lost one child when they failed to seek medical attention and have now lost another. The authorities are currently investigating whether the death is due to failure to seek medical attention. The couple, already on probation for the involuntary manslaughter of the other child, may now face a charge of violating the terms of their probation.
I know that the entire area of religious belief, faith healing, rights and responsibilities is fraught with moral, social and legal difficulties. There has been an upsurge in commentary over the "vaccination debate" here. Doctors have been urging parents to get their children vaccinated. Groups which oppose vaccination have been urging parents not to get their children vaccinated.
My mother and my maternal grandparents belonged to a sect which did not believe vaccination. My maternal grandparents would tell anyone prepared to listen of how one of my mother's much younger cousins became intellectually disabled as a result of having been vaccinated. What had actually happened was that he had been given the then "triple-antigen" vaccination and several weeks later he had become seriously ill with meningitis which left him permanently disabled. The two things were not related at all - except in the minds of my maternal grandparents and the members of the church they attended.
A university professor I once knew well also claimed the same cause for his child's severe intellectual disability. Again the child had become ill a little later with an unrelated illness. I have no doubt that the professor had convinced himself that the cause was the vaccine, despite being told by members of the medical profession, his colleagues, that this was not so. Perhaps though it was easier to blame the vaccine than recognise your child had been unfortunate enough to become ill through some other cause. The problem was that, when he told others what the "cause" of his child's disability was, people believed him.
I met someone yesterday whose child has been seriously ill with whooping cough. It has been a very, very anxious time for them. Their child was one of the unlucky few to have caught the disease despite having had the vaccination.
"It happens in about 15% of children and we were unlucky but the doctors said that, without the vaccination, he would have been much worse and may not have survived," his mother told me, "And having been through all that I can't understand why people don't protect their kids if they can."
The Whirlwind and one of her friends were with me at the time. This is the year they have their HPV vaccination. It is done at school. Like most of us they does not like "jabs" but they know they are for their benefit. Her friend knows the mother of the child too.
"I feel awfully sorry for her. They've been worried for weeks and weeks now. I know it didn't work properly for them but mostly those things do don't they?" the Whirlwind's friend asked me.
"Then why don't people do it? I mean do they want to be worried? Do they want their kids to die or something?"
I tried to explain to both of them and the Whirlwind looked at me in disgust and said,
"Well not doing it is child abuse and if their kids die because they don't have it then it is as bad as killing someone."
And her friend agreed. I think they will have any children of their own vaccinated.