The California Supreme Court ruled today that parents may be criminally prosecuted for the death of a child treated by spiritual healing instead of medical care. The ruling came in the case against Christian Scientist Laurie Walker of Sacramento, whose 4-year-old daughter, Shauntay, died of acute meningitis in 1984.
“We concluded that the prosecution of the defendant for involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment violates neither statutory law nor the California or federal Constitution,” Justice Stanley Mosk wrote for the unanimous court.
Walker now must face trial for manslaughter because she failed to seek medical help for her daughter. The child had been treated by two accredited Christian Science practitioners during her 17-day illness.