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Monday, August 15, 2005

Ind. Decisions - Couple must pay medical bills

Charles Wilson of the AP reports:

INDIANAPOLIS -- A couple whose daughter was delivered by emergency Caesarean section and kept in intensive care for 75 days despite their religious objections must pay the hospital bill, the Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled.

Dewayne and Maleta Schmidt face a bill of nearly $172,000 for 5-year-old Makalynn, along with a work-release sentence because of their reckless-homicide convictions in the death of their other daughter, Rhianna. * * *

Maleta Schmidt remained in intensive care for seven days and the baby in neonatal intensive care for 75 days, records show. Neither parent ever signed a consent form for any of the treatment.

The hospital did not charge the couple for the mother's care, but it did bill them $171,817 for Makalynn's delivery and stay and later went to court to collect when the couple refused to pay. A Johnson Superior Court judge ruled in favor of the hospital.

The Schmidts appealed, arguing that they were not obligated to pay because they had repeatedly told medical personnel about their religious objections and they would not pay for care.

But in a 12-page opinion issued Wednesday, the three-judge panel wrote that the couple's religious objections to medical treatment did not negate their parental duty regarding their child's health or their corresponding duty to pay for care.

Judge Margret G. Robb wrote that, "In matters involving the free exercise of religious beliefs, parents, while free to make martyrs of themselves, are not free under identical circumstances to make martyrs of their children."

Here is the Court of Appeals opinion, Schmidt v. Mutual Hospital Services (8/10/05).

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 15, 2005 07:33 AM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions