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Child custody battle looms for parents of deceased toddler

A highly controversial case is currently receiving widespread media attention, in Maryland and across the nation. The case centers on a couple's 2-year-old daughter who died of pneumonia, and the choices made by her parents that may have contributed to that death. The matter involves a harsh conflict between parental rights and the obligations of the state to protect the best interests of the child. A child custody battle over the couple's surviving six children could be on the horizon.

The couple's 2-year-old daughter fell ill last November. She developed pneumonia, a condition that can be easily treated with a course of antibiotics. However, her parents belong to a religious sect known as the Faith Tabernacle Church. That group preaches against the use of medical treatment, which is why the family decided against taking their daughter to the doctor.

As a result of her death, both parents were charged with involuntary manslaughter, as well as endangering the welfare of a child. They voluntarily surrendered custody of their six remaining children. Those children will remain together, and will be placed in the care of a family who will seek medical treatment for them if and when necessary.

As of the time of this report, the couple seems focused on addressing the criminal charges against them. However, it is likely that they will fight to regain their child custody rights once that matter is resolved. The case highlights the controversial issue of balancing religious freedoms and the need to protect innocent children. Parents in Maryland and across the nation will follow the case to see how the issue is ultimately resolved.

Source:, "Berks couple charged in daughter's death will give up custody of other six children", Stephanie Weaver, Feb. 16, 2017

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