OREGON CITY, Ore. – The weekend death of a baby born at a home of members of an Oregon church that shuns doctors and medical care in favor of faith healing is being investigated, a newspaper reported Tuesday.
The parents of the baby who was born Saturday and died Sunday morning are members of the 1,300-member Followers of Christ church in Oregon City, law enforcement officials told the Oregonian.
A key question for Clackamas County sheriff’s investigators is whether the infant would have survived if the family had sought emergency medical assistance. If the parents were medically negligent, they could face criminal charges. Results of an autopsy performed Sunday haven’t been released, sheriff’s spokesman Jim Strovink said.
A series of child deaths among members of the church prompted Oregon lawmakers in 1999 to eliminate a “spiritual-healing defense” for certain cases of manslaughter and criminal mistreatment.
The change in the law was put to a test this year when Raylene and Carl Brent Worthington, members of the Followers of Christ church, were charged with manslaughter and criminal mistreatment in the death of their 15-month-old daughter from pneumonia and a blood infection. The Worthingtons ignored symptoms that would have caused any reasonable parent to call a doctor or 911, prosecutors said. A Clackamas County jury acquitted the Worthingtons of serious manslaughter but convicted Brent Worthington of criminal mistreatment.
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