Sick children deserve to get the best possible treatment for their diseases. It is terrible to think about how a young child suffers and dies from severe diseases that could easily be treated because their parents are anti-medicine and believe that ineffective quack treatments work when they actually do not. Deaths due to severe neglect by parents could often have been entirely prevented.
Had they just accepted mainstream medicine instead of relying on pseudoscientific nonsense, their children could likely be alive today. This is probably an extremely ghastly realization, which is why some parents who neglected their children to death do not want to admit this and refuse to take responsibility for their terrible actions.
Thankfully, both scientific skeptics and the justice system are increasingly raising awareness about these issues and tightening the net around parents who engage in criminal neglect with a lethal outcome. The wheels of justice turn exceedingly slowly (and one might say that justice delayed is justice denied), but it is still a victory when these perpetrators are brought to justice and convicted for their crimes.
Dandelion tea against pneumonia and meningitis
Tamara Lovett was recently convicted of failing to provide the necessaries of life and negligence in causing the death of her seven-year-old son Ryan. He had gotten sick with group A streptococcal infection and developed pneumonia, meningitis, jaundice and multiple organ failure.
Instead of taking him to the hospital, Lovett let him suffer for ten days without seeking medical help. Instead, she gave him tea made from dandelions and oil of oregano under the belief that he was just having a cold or influenza. These are, of course, completely ineffective “treatments” that do not work. By relying on them instead of science-based medicine, she neglected her son and his health and failed to provide the necessities of life. Predictably, she said Ryan appeared to get better. This is a crushing example of how it can be exceptionally dangerous to rely on personal experience and confirmation bias.
Lovett actively refused medical help
A former friend testified during the trial that she visited Lovett and offered to take both her and Ryan to the hospital the day before he died because she thought that Ryan was “in a state of supreme suffering”. Lovett refused. The friend had met Tamara and Ryan about a year before and let him stay over with friends during the weekends. However, she found it difficult to improve Ryan’s situation because she did not want to “rock the boat” too much out of fear that Tamara would refuse to let the friend help completely. Ryan died the next day on March 2, 2013. 911 call placed by the mother offers a chilling ~10 minutes into a terrifying experience. When the paramedics arrived, Ryan was cold, covered in his own vomit and dead.
Lovett was a long-term anti-medicine believer. Ryan never got a birth certificate and had never visited a doctor during his entire life. Instead, she believes in “holistic” remedies. The prosecutor argued that Lovett knew that her son had a severe illness and decided to ignore it. Doctors that had reviewed the case testified during the trial that Ryan could have been successfully treated by antibiotics. Instead, Ryan was in substantial pain and eventually developed severe sepsis and died.
Will she go to prison?
The sentencing hearing is scheduled to take place at June 19 this year and the prosecution is aiming for prison sentence. The sentencing will be based on the severer conviction of negligence causing death. The defense has requested a psychological evaluation of Lovett and she does not seem to understand what that means. Presumably, they are trying to get a result that will serve as a mitigating circumstance to reduce the sentence and keep Lovett out of jail.
The justice system is slowly cracking down on extremely negligent parents
The Lovett cause is another conviction in a series of court cases where the authorities in Calgary and southern parts of Alberta are tightening the screws around parents who kill their children by refusing to visit doctors and seek science-based treatments for severe illness. Debunking Denialism has previously covered the case of David and Collet Stephan who failed to provide the necessities of life for their 19-month-old son Ezekiel who was sick with meningitis for two weeks while the parents refused to take him to a doctor and gave him a variety of fake treatments wrongly thinking that it would help.
Both were convicted and David was sentenced to 4 months in jail because he was especially careless and remorseless, but the prosecutor appealed. Predictably, they started pushing conspiracy theories about the government and blaming everyone besides themselves. David has since continued to work for the alternative medicine company that he worked for before and carries on selling the same naturopathic quackery that failed his son.
What was interesting in this context was that a third case is soon going to be handled by the courts and the people who are facing charges could be found in the audience of the Lovett trial. Jeromie and Jennifer Clark (both Seventh Day Adventist extremists) are going to be on trial in June for failing to provide the necessities of life for the death of their toddler John who died of a Staphylococcus infection, also during 2013. They are likely observing to gain insights into how the court and prosecutors handle this case to apply to their own case in an effort to either avoid convicting or get a reduced sentence.
Meanwhile, it is encouraging that the criminal justice system is standing up for these children who have been neglected to death by their quack parents who rely on either fake treatments or religious extremism. Alternative medicine fakery is becoming such a trend that public health experts are warning that society has become to tolerant and inviting to ineffective and potentially dangerous quackery.