David and Collet Stephan have a beautiful family. On that, at least, there is little debate. In the many photos they have posted online, the devout couple and their children are blond and brightly smiling and often dressed in matching outfits. Collet is pretty with a graceful posture and almond-shaped eyes. David is tall and handsome with a mane and a beard, like a classical painting of Jesus Christ.
The Canadian Rockies surrounding their home in rural Alberta complete the picturesque family portraits. …
On March 5, the Canadian government opened criminal proceedings against David and Collet. The charge: failing to provide their 19-month-old son, Ezekiel, the necessaries of life.
According to prosecutors, David and Collet stubbornly refused to take their sick son to see a doctor, instead giving him home remedies such as smoothies containing hot pepper, ginger root, horseradish, onion and apple cider vinegar. Even after warnings from a family friend who is a nurse, the anti-vaccine couple took him to a naturopath for echinacea instead of to a doctor for an exam. Echinacea is an herb “used for colds, flu, and other infections, based on the idea that it might stimulate the immune system to more effectively fight infection,” according to the National Institutes of Health. “Study results are mixed” on its usefulness, the NIH says.
It was only when Ezekiel suddenly stopped breathing that they rushed him to a hospital.
By then, it was too late.
Ezekiel died from bacterial meningitis and empyema, two conditions routinely cured with antibiotics, a medical examiner told the court last week, according to the Lethbridge Herald.
If convicted, the parents could spend up to five years in prison.
They failed to protect their child and neglected him. They imposed their beliefs on him, at the expense of his life. They should be prosecuted.
Prison would be a step too far. They are no risk to the community. But it does need to be made clear that refusing to seek medical treatment for a sick child is child abuse.