A religious couple in Calgary, Canada, face trial following the death of their toddler son who died in November of 2013, allegedly brought about due to a belief-based diet and lack of medical care.
The coroner determined that the parents, who are Seventh Day Adventists, hadn't taken their 14-month-old boy, John Clark, to a doctor since birth and are strict vegans. According to an article on CTV News:
"An autopsy and additional tests confirmed the child's death was the result of a Staph infection complicated by malnutrition. According to police, the parents, Jeromie and Jennifer, attempted to conceal the infant's failing health. ‘We believe that the family followed a strict dietary regiment based on their beliefs,' said CPS S/Sgt. Doug Andrus."
Calgary police determined that John Clark was not born at a hospital but instead at home-a lawful practice, but one that led to the child not receiving any neonatal care or indeed any medical attention at all during his life. The infection the boy died from would have been easily treatable with antibiotics had his parents brought him to medical attention during its early stages. The child, weakened by the extreme vegan diet enforced by his parents, was not healthy enough to allow him to recover on his own.
The Seventh Day Adventist Church is known for promoting a healthy lifestyle among its members, including not smoking, avoiding "unclean" food products mentioned in Leviticus (such as pork) and vegetarianism. The church does not officially endorse veganism, though according to an article in the Calgary Sun, "more than 60 percent of Adventists are vegetarian."
The rise over the past decade of health eating, driven by a renewed health consciousness, has also given rise to an increase in the number of babies and children dying of starvation induced by their vegetarian and vegan parents. As an article in "The New York Times" notes:
"A vegan diet is dangerous for weaned babies and toddlers, who need plenty of protein and calcium. Too often, vegans turn to soy, which actually inhibits growth and reduces absorption of protein and minerals. That's why health officials in Britain, Canada and other countries express caution about soy for babies."
This is not the first time that parents have gone on trial for child abuse or neglect for refusing their children medical attention. Some religions cite Biblical scripture favoring prayer and faith over modern medicine.
Other religions, including Followers of Christ Church, Christian Scientists, and Scientology, have doctrines that prohibit or discourage followers (and, by extension, those in their care) from modern medicine. Jennifer and Jeromie Clark are charged with criminal negligence causing death and failure to provide the necessities of life.