17-year-old Zachery Swezey died of a ruptured appendix a few months ago… his body got warmer, he began vomiting, and he suffered from severe diarrhea.
During those three days, aunts, uncles and grandparents came to his bedside to pray. On March 17, his father did not call a doctor or an ambulance. Instead, he called elders from their church. They came to the house and anointed Zakk with olive oil, and prayed for him as Zakk’s family waited outside in the hall. Members of the Church of the First Born, the Swezeys believe in faith healing.
At midday on March 18, Zakk told his mother he loved her, and asked for his father to come to his bedside.
Shortly before 1 p.m, his breathing slowed. His hands got cold and turned a bluish color. With both of his parents at his bedside, Zakk Swezey died.
Parents Greg and JaLea Swezey say they offered Zakk the option of medical help in the last hours of his life, but Zakk may not have been in proper condition (or mindset) to accept that help and the parents never called on doctors. When you teach your children that medical help is unnecessary when you have faith, it’s not surprising the son would remain ignorant of what modern medicine can do and not want to call on doctors during the time he needed them the most. Not to mention he was still legally a child — it was his parents’ responsibility to get him the help he needed, and they failed.
“We don’t force our kids, our kids have a choice. At no time did Zachery ask to go to the doctor,” [Okanogan County Sheriff’s investigator Josh] Brown wrote in notes from his interview with Greg Swezey. He also told investigators that his oldest son once broke his leg, and they gave him a choice of going to the doctor, but his son chose not to. Swezey put a cast on his leg, and later they saw a physical therapist who confirmed his son had broken his leg.
It will be tough to prosecute the parents. The law in Washington state, like in many states, provides exemptions to parents who kill their children because of their religious beliefs:
Most states, including Washington, have child abuse laws that allow some religious exemptions for parents who do not seek medical treatment when their children are sick.
Washington’s law specifies that a person treated through faith healing “by a duly accredited Christian Science practitioner in lieu of medical care is not considered deprived of medically necessary health care or abandoned.”…
Judges must continue sending the message that religious beliefs should not trump the life and health of a child. They have to punish these parents for their neglect and ignorance.
(via Deep Thoughts)