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North East Rep Second Ser. 1993 Aug 11;617:609-21.

Commonwealth v. Twitchell.



The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Suffolk County, reversed the involuntary manslaughter conviction of David and Ginger Twitchell who, as Christian Scientists, relied upon "spiritual treatment" for their minor son's fatal bowel condition. The court, in reversing the Superior Court's conviction, also remanded the case for a new trial on the grounds that the Twitchells had not presented an affirmative defense because they had relied upon the interpretation of the Massachusetts law concerning "spiritual treatment" as satisfying their parental obligation not to neglect a child and to provide a child with physical care. Although the court reversed the initial conviction, the court also held that the failure to seek medical attention for a child could support a conviction for involuntary manslaughter if the parent behaved wantonly and recklessly. By Massachusetts statute, "spiritual treatment" alone, based upon religious grounds, may rebut a finding of neglect. However, it does not bar criminal prosecution for involuntary manslaughter.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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