FORT WORTH — A North Texas family is racing to stop a hospital from amputating a patient’s foot, saying the procedure violates their religious rights.
The situation is now so tense that Angela Wright’s husband has been barred from the hospital where she is being treated.
Wright had her first heart attack two months ago. Her family immediately began calling prayer groups, asking fellow Christians to appeal to God.
They kept praying through five more heart attacks.
“It’s everything,” said Dwight Wright. “It’s the reason my wife’s still here, I believe.”
Angela Wright remained at Baylor All Saints Medical Center Fort Worth Friday as the toes on her left foot blackened. Family members say doctors want to amputate, possibly going as far up as her knee.
That evaluation has led to a showdown. Family members say prayer needs more time to work, and an amputation would violate their religious rights; doctors say the amputation is medically necessary.
Jodee Wright, who had just visited her mother, recounted the conversation she had with the patient: “Do you want your toes amputated? She said, ‘No, I’m scared to death of losing my other foot.'”
Wright lost part of her other leg due to a blood clot nearly 20 years ago.
“There hadn’t been a day that’s been by since 1992 that she hasn’t asked me why didn’t I get her out of the hospital? Why did I let them amputate her leg? So why in her right mind would she want anything else amputated?” Dwight Wright asked.
The family concedes, however, that at other times Angela said “yes” to the doctors asking for permission to amputate. They blame medication and trauma, and say they should be allowed to make the decision on her behalf.
“I want her here; but I want her to have every opportunity she can have to keep the rest of her foot, because that’s all she’s got,” Dwight Wright said.
On Friday morning, the hospital removed Angela’s husband from her room and barred him from the the facility. A hospital spokesman said Wright made threats to hospital staff, and was “impeding the patient from making decisions about her care.” He denies the allegations.
As of Friday night, the amputation had not been carried out.
Horray for pointlessly dangerous rituals!
A priest in eastern Europe has been accused of drowning a baby boy as he baptised him.
Police are investigating Father Valentin for accidential homicide after witnesses at the ceremony said the priest did not cover the baby’s mouth during the ritual, The Sun newspaper reports.
Father Valentin had denied being responsible for the baby’s death during the baptism in Moldova.
The six-week-old baby died on the way to hospital and an autopsy found he had drowned, the baby’s dad Dumitru Gaidau told Romania’s Publica TV.
Mr Gaidau, 36, said his son was clearly in distress during the ceremony.
“He couldn’t inhale, his face turned blue and he was foaming at the mouth. He [the priest] said we should not interrupt this their ritual,” he said.
“We couldn’t believe it that he just put his hand over his belly and over the head and submerged him three times in the water.”
Water was found in the baby’s lungs.
The baby’s godmother, Aliona Vacarciuc, said the baby had been crying as the priest submerged him in the water.
“We couldn’t believe it but we thought the priest must know what he’s doing, but he didn’t. When we got him back there was nothing that could be done anymore,”The Sun quoted her as saying.
When the baby’s angry relatives confronted the priest, he told them he knew what he was doing and was experienced at baptisms, Ms Vacarciuc said.
If found guilty of accidental homicide, Father Valentin could spend three years in jail.
We’ve talked long enough about faith healing in Oregon. We’ve shared countless earnest conversations about religious liberty and parental rights.
The time for words is over. Now it’s time for pictures.
Another couple from the Followers of Christ church in Oregon City stand accused of criminal mistreatment for deliberately withholding medical care from their child. Timothy and Rebecca Wyland of Beavercreek believe in treating sickness with prayer rather than medicine, even when prayer doesn’t work.
Their infant daughter, Alayna, has a serious eye problem, which they chose not to treat. Someone notified authorities and the state intervened, and now the Wylands are trying to regain custody of their daughter.
Those are the words, wholly inadequate.
Only the pictures do the story justice.
Photographs obtained from the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office show Alayna as a sweetly chubby baby with a grotesque protrusion on her face, distorting her eye. The mass is angry and purplish red and painful-looking with the radius of a tennis ball. In the grocery store, it would be visible from five aisles away.
A reasonable person wouldn’t keep this child from a doctor.
A reasonable person would break down doors to find a doctor.
Medical experts describe the eye problem as a hemangioma, a fast-growing mass of blood vessels. Normally the condition could be diagnosed and easily treated at the first signs of swelling or discoloration. Left untreated, the mass pushed Alayna’s eye down and out, placing profound pressure on her eyeball and eye socket, as The Oregonian’s Steve Mayes reported.
It’s not clear whether Alayna will go blind in that eye or somehow recover. The only certain thing is that the Wylands deliberately withheld medical care, and admitted in court to doing so, from a baby whose injury was painfully obvious.
This is a not a sad instance of an unanswered prayer. This is a textbook case of medical mistreatment and neglect, with photographs to answer the questions that words cannot.
Over the past three decades, more than 20 Oregon children whose parents belong to the Followers of Christ church have died of treatable illnesses, according to the state medical examiner’s office. Yet Oregon grants special leniency to faith-healing parents, singling them out favorably in state policy and protecting them from being charged with certain crimes.
In a 1999 compromise, the Oregon Legislature stripped away some of those legal protections but gave judges the authority to give lighter sentences to faith-healing parents. In recent years, Clackamas County authorities have successfully prosecuted two couples for the preventable deaths of their children. Things are moving in the right direction.
Still, Oregon remains a national outlier for its level of deference toward faith-based crime.
Oregon should get rid of its remaining double standards. Juries have proved themselves to be fully capable of taking faith into account as they weigh criminal intent, much as they consider addiction and other factors in other sad cases involving children.
Meanwhile, maybe we should spend more time studying the photographs of these kids. The smiling ones, now gone. The injured ones, now recovering.
These children might not fully appreciate Oregon’s treatment of faith healing as an abstract intellectual issue, one requiring lots of discussion plus the perfect blend of libertarian distance and liberal tolerance.
Given a choice, they might prefer more action, fewer words.
Female circumcision will be inflicted on up to 2,000 British schoolgirls during the summer holidays – leaving brutal physical and emotional scars. Yet there have been no prosecutions against the practice
Like any 12-year-old, Jamelia was excited at the prospect of a plane journey and a long summer holiday in the sun. An avid reader, she had filled her suitcases with books and was reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban when her mother came for her. “She said, ‘You know it’s going to be today?’ I didn’t know exactly what it would entail but I knew something was going to be cut. I was made to believe it was genuinely part of our religion.”
She went on: “I came to the living room and there were loads of women. I later found out it was to hold me down, they bring lots of women to hold the girl down. I thought I was going to be brave so I didn’t really need that. I just lay down and I remember looking at the ceiling and staring at the fan.
“I don’t remember screaming, I remember the ridiculous amount of pain, I remember the blood everywhere, one of the maids, I actually saw her pick up the bit of flesh that they cut away ’cause she was mopping up the blood. There was blood everywhere.”
Some 500 to 2,000 British schoolgirls will be genitally mutilated over the summer holidays. Some will be taken abroad, others will be “cut” or circumcised and sewn closed here in the UK by women already living here or who are flown in and brought to “cutting parties” for a few girls at a time in a cost-saving exercise.
Then the girls will return to their schools and try to get on with their lives, scarred mentally and physically by female genital mutilation (FGM), a practice that serves as a social and cultural bonding exercise and, among those who are stitched up, to ensure that chastity can be proved to a future husband.
Even girls who suffer less extreme forms of FGM are unlikely to be promiscuous. One study among Egyptian women found 50% of women who had undergone FGM “endured” rather than enjoyed sex.
Cleanliness, neatness of appearance and the increased sexual pleasure for the man are all motivations for the practice. But the desire to conform to tradition is the most powerful motive. The rite of passage, condemned by many Islamic scholars, predates both the Koran and the Bible and possibly even Judaism, appearing in the 2nd century BC.
Although unable to give consent, many girls are compliant when they have the prodecure carried out, believing they will be outcasts if they are not cut. The mothers believe they are doing the best for their daughters. Few have any idea of the lifetime of hurt it can involve or the medical implications.
Jamelia, now 20, who says her whole personality changed afterwards.”I felt a lot older. It was odd because nobody says this is a secret, keep your mouth shut but that’s the message you get loud and clear.” She stopped the sports and swimming she used to love and became “strangely disconnected with her own body”. Other girls have died, of shock or blood loss; some have picked up infections from dirty tools. Jamelia’s mother paid extra for the woman to use a clean razor. It is thought that in the UK there are one or two doctors who can be bribed by the very rich to to carry out FGM using anaesthetic and sterilised instruments.
Comfort Momoh works at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in London, in one of the 16 clinics up and down the country who deal with FGM and its health repercusssions. Women who have had much of their external genitalia sliced off and their vaginas stitched closed, but for a tiny hole, also come to be cut open in order to give birth.
There are four types of female circumcision identified by the World Health Organisation, ranging from partial to total removal of the external female genitalia. Some 140 million women worldwide have been subjected to FGM and an estimated further two million are at risk every year. Most live in 28 African countries while others are in Yemen, Kurdistan, the US, Saudi Arabia, Australia and Canada.
The UK Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act 1985 makes it an offence to carry out FGM or to aid, abet or procure the service of another person. The Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003, makes it against the law for FGM to be performed anywhere in the world on UK permanent residents of any age and carries a maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment. To date, no prosecutions have been made under UK legislation.
“Obviously in summer we get really anxious. All activists and professionals working around FGM get anxious because this is the time that families take their children back home. This is the time when all the professionals need to be really alert,” said Momoh.
“There is no hard evidence in figures about what is happening in the UK because it’s a hush-hush thing. It’s only now that a few people are beginning to talk about it, which is good because change will only come from within and the numbers coming forward are rising. But there is a lot of family pressure. When I first started in 1997 we had two clinics in the country, now we have 16.”
One woman told the Observer how a midwife examining her had raced retching and crying from the room. She had no idea she was “abnormal” before that happened. There is a clear need for women who have suffered FGM to be able to visit health professionals who understand what has happened to them. Momoh said that for those who wanted it, some surgical reversal work could sometimes be done on women with the most severe FGM procedure, Type III. For those with other types, counselling and support is all that can offered.
“Periods are agony – you get a lot of women who are determined to have reversals while they are having their period but then when the pain has stopped they lose their nerve again,” said Leyla Hussein, 29, who has had to have years of counselling to cope with her own anger and distress at what was done to her as a child. It has helped her forgive her own mother’s complicity in the mutilation she endured, though the older woman could not understand why Hussein would not have her own child, now aged seven, cut. But Hussein has vowed that she will be the last generation of women in her family to suffer.
“It was my husband who said on our honeymoon, ‘We are not going to do this thing to any child of ours.’ I was quite shocked, I hadn’t questioned it. But I now realise a lot of men are not in favour of FGM, not when you tell them the woman is not going to enjoy herself.”
Hussein is among a slowly but steadily growing band of women who have reacted against what happened to them with courage and a determination to stamp out FGM. Hussein has run support and discussion groups for affected women and for men, and formerly worked at the African Well Women’s Centre in Leyton, east London.
“I can really relate to some of the women who are very angry, but how do you blame your mother, who loves you yet planned this for you? There is a lot of anger and resentment. Many women blame themselves and of course there are flashbacks to deal with. I had blackouts – anytime I had to have a smear test, I would pass out because lying in that position brought it back to me, but the nurse is used to me now and allows a little more time with the appointment.”
“The new generation, born and raised here in Britain, they are used to expressing their views and it will be a lot harder to shut them up. Last month was the first ever march against FGM [in Bristol where 15 to 16 mothers protested] and that is a sign of something new.”
Asha-Kin Duale is a community partnership adviser in Camden, London. She talks to schools and to families about safeguarding children. “Culture has positive and negative issues for every immigrant community. We value some traditions, and most are largely good.
“FGM is not confined to African countries. It has no basis in Christianity, it has no basis in Islam; none of Muhammad’s daughters had it done. For some parents it is enough to let them know that and they will drop it completely. Everyone needs to understand that every child, no matter what the background or creed, is protected by this law in this land.”
She said there needed to be an understanding of why FGM took place, although that was not the same as accepting that the practice had a cultural justification.
“FGM has a social function and until this is understood by social services and other bodies they will never stop it. It is a power negotiation mechanism, that women use to ensure respect from men. It prevents rape of daughters and is a social tool to allow women to regain some power in patriarchal societies. With girls living in the UK there is no need to gain the power – it has to be understood that girls can be good girls without FGM.”
For Jason Morgan, a detective constable in the Met’s FGM unit, Project Azure, the solution lies with those girls themselves: “Empowering youth, giving them the information, is the way forward. They are coming from predominantly caring and loving families, who genuinely believe this is the right thing to do. Many are under a great deal of pressure from the extended families.
“Sometimes it might be as simple as delivering the message of what the legal position is; sometimes we even give them an official letter, a document that they can show to the extended family that states quite firmly what will happen if the procedure goes ahead. The focus has to be on prevention.”
Project Azure made 38 interventions in 2008, 59 in 2009 and 25 so far this year. For Morgan those statistics are just as important as getting a conviction. “We know it happens here although we have no official statistics, but we have seen very successful partnerships and we don’t want to alienate communities through heavy-handed tactics.
“While a prosecution would send out a very clear message to practising communities, really it is very difficult and you would be relying on medical evidence, and in turn that would all hinge or whether the child consents to an examination.”
But Naana Otoo-Oyortey is not so content with the softly-softly approach: “We have anecdotal evidence that it is being done here. So someone is not doing their job: it’s an indication that the government has been failing to protect children. The commitment is hollow.”
Head of the leading anti-FGM charity Forward UK, Otoo-Oyortey said people value the FGM tradition as something which holds a community together and gives it structure. “It’s seen as a party, a cutting party because it’s a celebration – people expect it as a way of welcoming a girl. A lot of women will mention to us that there have been no prosecutions here so why do we worry about the law? At the end of the day who will know?
“And we cannot just blame the women as the men are silently supporting it by paying for it. The new government’s lack of a position on FGM is very worrying. We don’t know what they will do, but we do know that the summer holidays are here again and we will be left to pick up the pieces in a few weeks’ time.”
And for those who will be “cut” this summer, the effects will be lifelong. Miriam was six when she had her cutting party at her home in Somalia, two years before war arrived to force her family out.
When she was 12, doctors were horrified to find that what they thought was a cyst in her body was actually several years of period blood that had been blocked from leaving her body. Unable to have children, she now lives and works in England and worries about other girls. “I’d seen so many people circumcised, all my neighbours, so I knew one day it was going to happen to me. We knew what was happening,” Miriam said.
“The little girls who were born in Europe have no clue. They will be traumatised a lot more. The only thing they know is that they are going away – that’s what they say, ‘We’re going on a holiday’.
“Then her life and her head are going to be messed up. It’s amazing how many people are in mental health care because of their culture. Don’t get me wrong, I have religion and culture and I love where I’m from and I love what I stand for. But culture should not be about torture.
“Why would anyone want to go and cut up a seven- or eight-year-old child? People need to wake up — you are hurting your child, you are hurting your daughter, you’re not going to have a grandchild, so wake up.”
Per Greenworld’s request ;)
God is SO awesome!
Blind passengers are being ordered off buses or refused taxi rides because Muslim drivers or passengers object to their ‘unclean’ guide dogs.
One pensioner, a cancer sufferer, told how had twice been confronted by drivers and asked to get off the bus because of his guide dog, and had also faced hostility at a hospital and in a supermarket over the animal.
The problem to carry guide dogs on religious grounds has become so widespread that the matter was raised in the House of Lords last week, prompting transport minister Norman Baker to warn that a religious objection was not a reason to eject a passenger with a well-behaved guide dog.
While drivers can use their discretion to refuse to carry non-disabled passengers with dogs, they are compelled to accept guide dogs under disability discrimination law.
Yesterday both the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association and the National Federation of the Blind confirmed the problem was common, and, according to the latter organisation was ‘getting worse’.
The tension stems from a strand of Islamic teaching which warns against contact with dogs because the animal’s saliva was considered to be impure, the Muslim Council of Britain said.
It urged Muslims to show tolerance and common sense over the issue.
‘We need to be flexible on this,’ a spokesman said. ‘Muslim drivers should have no hesitation in allowing guide dogs into their bus or car.
‘If a dog does lick you, it’s not the end of the world. Just go home and wash yourself.’
George Herridge, 73, a retired hospital maintenance manager, told the Daily Mail he was ‘stunned’ to be twice asked by bus drivers to leave their vehicles because of his guide dog Andy, a black Labrador.
Mr Herridge, who lives with wife Janet, 69, in Tilehurst, Reading, said that on the first occasion two years ago, he got off at the request of a Muslim driver because some Muslim children on board were ‘screaming’ because of the dog.
He found himself in a similar scenario in May last year, when a Muslim woman and her children became ‘hysterical’. Mr Herridge this time refused the driver’s request to alight.
He complained to the bus company which launched an investigation. It later informed him the matter had been dealt with ‘internally’.
Jill Allen-King, spokesman for the NFB, said she had been repeatedly left on the kerb by Muslim taxi drivers who refused to take her dog.
One cab driver told her he would have to ‘go home now and wash myself’ when she tried to enter his car with her dog.
Mr Baker yesterday warned bus and cab companies that, while there were within their rights to ask a passenger to leave if the dog was causing a nuisance, it was ‘much more questionable to be asked to remove a dog for religious reasons’.
He added: ‘One person’s freedom is someone else’s restriction.’
In 2006, Muslim minicab driver Abdul Rasheed Majekodumni was fined £200 and ordered to pay £1,200 costs by magistrates in Marylebone, central London, after being prosecuted for failing to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act when he refused to take a blind passenger because her guide dog was ‘unclean’.