MICHAELS: Deadly parenting finds support on Facebook

Kathy Michaels is a reporter with the Kelowna Capital News, a sister-paper to the Penticton Western News.

In the entirety of my life, I’ve taken antibiotics twice.

I’d rather grit my teeth through the worst headache than succumb to taking a single Tylenol.

I’ve not had a drop of cold medication since I was a teenager and allergy season is a special kind of antihistamine-free torture for me.

Without getting into how I became the modern day martyr for minor ailments — a-hem, I blame my mother — I will simply say I’m dubious of the quick-fix, pharmaceutical-friendly way of life that has become the norm. There are times when over-the-counter drugs simply mask harder-to-deal-with lifestyle issues.

When I became a breeder there was a moment, upon reading some items about the risks of vaccinations, that I struggled with the idea. But it passed. Quickly. Because I know from deep within the lines of broken bones healed by my doctors past, medical science isn’t quackery. Medical science has provided us with longer, healthier lives than any previous point in history. And, as a breeder, I feel blessed beyond I ever knew to be possible to live in a country where, if need be, my child — knock on wood he never does — can get the care he needs.

So obviously I, like so many others, was nauseated by details of 19-month-old Ezekiel Stephan’s death.

The Alberta baby died of bacterial meningitis because of his parents’ obstinate and ultimately fatal avoidance of medical treatment when there were a range of signs indicating a doctor of any kind needed to be accessed. The most galling evidence to my ears was that parents delayed taking a child who was stiff as a board to the hospital in a timely fashion. They strapped him to a mattress to take him for errands, because he couldn’t be moulded to the shape of his car seat. What may have worse repercussions down the road, however, is that these people who were convicted of failing to provide the necessities of life are now positioning themselves as martyrs.

Since the verdict, the child’s father, David Stephan, has said their prosecution can be chocked up to a vendetta that Health Canada has against vitamin purveyors, which his father is.

He’s gone to Facebook to plead his case. And he’s not going to stop from the looks of things.

“We are far from being done with this,” said Stephan, after the verdict, explaining how he believed he had been victimized.

And the support has rolled in. So much shocking support.

It’s disheartening in so many ways because it illustrates the simple fact that somewhere along the way, the medical system has become at odds with the needs of the people. What I call user error, some believe to be a big-pharma conspiracy.

It’s such a conspiracy, to the supporters of these awful parents, that even the cruel death of a small human can’t sway them from their anti-science perspective.

And it keeps going.

The clear need for court intervention has prompted even sensible people in conversation and online to question whether the government is over-stepping its bounds by mandating how a child should be cared for.

For the record, it isn’t. If these people shoved their child out in the snow for a week with nothing but a parka, it would be the same.

But this case and the polarized reaction about health care it has prompted should have something to offer the country.

It should give us cause to start talking about how our collective relationship with the medical industry spiralled so out of control that even sensible people — not the aforementioned criminals — have started to fear it.

Kathy Michaels is a reporter with the Kelowna Capital News, a sister-paper to the Western News.

 

 

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