Chapter 6: Rights, Truth and Consent

Section 5. Case Study

Parental Refusal

Kevin Masick ; Samantha Sparta(2002)

CASE TITLE: Billy Ray Reed

DESCRIPTION :  In Colorado, a three day old infant died after failing to receive the heart surgery needed to save his life. His parents, Barbara and Billy, do not believe in medical treatments opting instead to perform faith-healing to save the child.  Billy Ray Reed was born with a birth defect in his heart. This type of birth defect is not fatal if treated with the proper medicine, so why did he die?  Billy's parents were strong supporters of divine healing and prayer, so in other words they believed that God would heal their son. Prosecutors were furious at the parents for not allowing their son to receive the proper medical treatment that would in fact save his life. The prosecutors attempted to charge the family with child abuse and neglect, but in the end the accusation of homicide was ruled out and the parents were in fact set free of charges.  They had a 1989 Colorado law behind them that states that faith-healing law cannot be used to deny medical care if a child really needs it.

Describing case:

Denver Post article

Associated Press article

Detroit Press article

Article describing Billy Ray Reed?s condition

this article talks about the case and about the church in which his parents belong


Articles with Ethical Position: Philosophers, Theologians, Lawyers, Medical Doctors

as mentioned in a previous article, that the Supreme Court Decision of 1944 upheld that the Reeds were okay to use prayer for the healing of their child, here is the Supreme Court Case, which states that "So long as the person accepted them in good faith, it is improper for the state to attempt to determine they are logical."

this is an extremely long article, which talks about Philosophy versus Christian Science. it explains the strengths and weaknesses of medical science, alternative science and faith healing.

this article talks about alternative medicine

this article "Federal court supports payments to Christian Science nursing homes" talks about the legal funding of Christian Science health centers

Here is a listing of reports on cases in which parents refuse treatment for their children.

Return to the Decision Scenario section of the chapter by clicking here> section.

Copyright Philip A. Pecorino 2002. All Rights reserved.

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