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Infant's death leads to ongoing child custody battle with parents

An unusual and deeply disturbing case is making headlines in Colorado and across the nation. A couple has lost custody of their two young children, ages 2 and 3, after the death of their newborn infant. According to investigators, the parents intentionally refused medical care for the baby, despite signs that the child was in distress. Now, they seem to be making a stand as they face an increasingly difficult child custody battle with their state of residence.

The couple is part of a religious group known as the Free Saints Assembly Church. That group does not believe in seeking medical treatment that extends beyond basic first aid measures. The mother gave birth at home, and both her own mother and a midwife present at the scene urged her to seek medical treatment for her newborn.

The child appeared jaundiced, but the parents refused to seek any form of medical treatment. When asked, they responded that God "makes no mistakes." Police and child protective services were called in, and the two older toddlers were removed from the care of their parents. In a recent hearing, the parents were not able to have those two children returned to their home after refusing to agree to a court-ordered safety plan that specified that they could not physically discipline their children.

As this case plays out, a court may be asked to weigh the parents' obligations to look after the best interests of their children with their rights to religious freedom and expression. These types of child custody cases often define the power that a state has to control the choices made by parents. Many Colorado parents hold strong opinions on the matter, on either side of the issue.

Source:, "Couple charged in newborn's death opted for "physical discipline" over custody of 2 other children", Christopher Haxel, Oct. 3, 2017

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