Homeopathy proponents jailed for allowing daughter to die

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

In Sydney, Australia, Thomas and Manju Sam were jailed after being convicted of manslaughter on Monday. The court found they had failed to take their ill daughter to medical appointments, and shunned the effective conventional medical treatments offered. Instead they chose homeopathic 'alternative' medical treatments which the medical profession generally considers to be pseudoscience. As a result, their then nine-month-old malnourished daughter Gloria died of the skin disorder eczema in 2002.

In the evidence, the Crown prosecutor, Mr Tedeschi, said that the Sams ignored repeated advice to send Gloria to a skin specialist for her eczema. The severity of her condition made her skin so thin that it was constantly breaking and becoming infected. Creams provided by medical doctors were not used; they preferred to employ homeopathic drops as a method to treat her illness. By the time they finally sought treatment, "her skin was weeping, her body malnourished and her corneas melting", and she died from the complications and massive infection caused by the effectively untreated eczema.

Cquote1.svg Gloria suffered helplessly and unnecessarily ... from a condition that was treatable. Cquote2.svg

—Peter Johnson, Supreme Court Justice of New South Wales

In his ruling, Supreme Court Justice of New South Wales Peter Johnson stated that "Gloria suffered helplessly and unnecessarily ... from a condition that was treatable."

Thomas received a maximum sentence of eight years and is no longer allowed to practice homeopathy. Manju received a maximum sentence of five years and four months.

Homeopathy is a form of alternative medicine which uses substances that have gone through a process of serial dilution so extensive that in most cases, no molecules of the original are likely to remain. There is no convincing evidence that it has any effect greater than placebo. For it to work as homeopaths claim, basic well-tested scientific laws would have to be wrong.


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