It's been a mere three months since the parents of an Oregon City child were convicted for neglecting their infant on the basis of 'faith healing' (depending on prayer instead of necessary medical aid). However, another couple from the same church congregation are on trial for not only neglecting their son's health, but letting him die without proper medical care. This marks the fourth case in two years where members of OC's Followers of Christ church have gone to trial for refusing medical assistance for their child.
Here, Dale and Shannon Hickman, members of Followers of Christ church, turned to prayer when their premature baby with bacteria-infected lungs faced death. Refusing medical assistance, their 9-hour-old son, David, died. Now they face a potentially 5-week-long trial, starting today, in the Clackamas County Court.
This case follows the Oregon House's March approval of a bill removing any legal protection for parents who rely on faith healing to medical care for their child. Instead of spiritual treatment being regarded a defense for all homicide charges, these devout parents will be subject to Oregon's Measure 11 for manslaughter.
Out of the three previous cases, two led to manslaughter convictions — the other was let go based on the parents' 'misunderstanding'. With this new law fully cemented in the system, it's hard to see this undoubtedly drawn-out trial, chock full with testimonies from medical and religious representatives, going any other way.