Editor’s Note: No, this isn’t The Onion, and yes, you are looking at a real news story. Students in Kelley Crawford’s Alternative Journalism class at Tulane University dove into the archives of the Times-Picayune to find some shinning star articles. Everything from people having snakes in their bellies to a man becoming a human torch will be covered in the series, “From Clips to Clicks.” Each weekly post will display the original piece from the Times-Picayune (the “clips”), and then the written text will either be a modern adaptation or a commentary on the piece that’s published on ViaNolaVie (the “clicks”).
In this piece, Halle Rudolf wonders: How far do the boundaries of parenting go, especially when the child’s health is in question.
“Singer Summoned for Child’s Death”
Yes, you read that correctly. Robert Lawrence was brought before a court for the death of his daughter because — aligning with his religious practices as a Christian Scientist — he did not call in the “proper” medical treatment in time.
I understand this perspective. I understand how he, the father, is responsible for the health and well-being of his child, but where do the boundaries of parenting stop and the influence of society begin? Should a parent who is stuffing their child with chemically-processed foods that have been linked to future risks of cancer be brought before a court? What about parents who smoke around their children or take them on vacation without proper vaccinations? Robert Lawrence’s case is even more complicated because he did what he thought was right according to his religious beliefs, and we know that state and religion are supposed to be separate.
With the coronavirus spreading from country to country and continent to continent, there’s a question of who’s in charge of peoples’ overall health. Themselves? Fellow citizens? The government? We’ve got nothing but questions for you today, but isn’t it fascinating how a story from the 1840s still rings with truth today?