Travis and Sarah Mitchell, two Christian parents who let one of their premature twin babies die because they didn’t want to call a doctor, were charged with murder just over a year ago.
Yesterday, both of them pleaded guilty to negligent homicide and criminal mistreatment. They will now go to jail for sentences of more than 6.5 years each.
The sad story began in March of 2017, when 24-year-old Sarah gave birth to twins well before their due date. The first one spent time in intensive care at a nearby hospital. The second one, Gennifer, didn’t make it. She had breathing problems and died shortly after birth.
That’s tragic, no doubt, but there were looming questions about whether this was inevitable because the Mitchells were both members of the Followers of Christ Church in Oregon. That is, they’re the type of people who believe prayers will fix everything and say no to doctors whenever they can. This is a church whose members have killed several babies and children over the past decade because of their faith-based negligence.
In Mitchell’s case, no one who witnessed her home-birth even called for assistance.
Family members, church members and three midwives were at the home for the birth, Kraus said. No one in the home called 911.
After the baby’s death, church elder Carl Hansen contacted the county medical examiner, who determined that Mitchell’s surviving infant daughter needed medical attention and called police.
At least one person had the sense to call authorities. It’s also possible that, had Mitchell been cared for in a hospital, doctors would’ve noticed the problems earlier and the babies would both be alive and healthy today.
Sarah Mitchell is the sister of Shannon Hickman, a woman who’s currently in jail for allowing her own newborn son to die of a preventable disease.
Now, the Mitchells will join her there.
In a bit of a twist, when they announced their guilty plea, they actually recommended that their own religious community seek medical help when needed:
In an unusual development, the Mitchells not only acknowledged their failure to provide necessary medical care for their newborn but also said in a statement read aloud by one of their lawyers that “everyone in the church should always seek adequate medical care for our children.”
That’s a surprising and welcome statement. They’re not using their religious beliefs as an excuse to avoid jail. And perhaps, because of the Mitchells’ request, other members of their church won’t be joining them anytime soon because their children will get the health care they need.
(Thanks to Richard for the link. Large portions of this article were published earlier)