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Parents Charged With Child Abuse After Son's Death Say They Couldn't See a Doctor Without Insurance

Illustration for article titled Parents Charged With Child Abuse After Sons Death Say They Couldnt See a Doctor Without Insurance
Photo: Spencer Platt (Getty Images)

Last Friday, Sante Fe, New Mexico police charged Ramiro Miranda-Quinonez and Maria Urias-Astorga with child abuse following their 14-year-old son’s death from untreated cancer. In an interview with detectives, Urias-Astorga said she had treated her son’s worsening health with herbs and other home remedies because the family didn’t have access to insurance and couldn’t afford to see a doctor.

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According to the Albuquerque Journal, the parents hadn’t taken the boy to a doctor in two years, only bringing him to Santa Fe Hospital on September 7 after he had trouble breathing. There, doctors discovered a massive tumor on the boy’s left side. When he was transferred to Presbyterian Hospital in rapidly deteriorating condition on Thursday, anonymous tipsters called local police to investigate potential child abuse. The child died on Thursday night. According to an arrest warrant, it’s unclear how long the family had been aware of their child’s symptoms, though they reported he’d been experiencing pain in his knees and hips as well as recent weight loss.

When the Santa Fe New Mexican interviewed peers and teachers at the boy’s school, they recalled involved parents and a happy child who had been present for distance learning during the first week of school. According to a court affidavit, Urias-Astorga said she hadn’t taken her kid to a doctor in a few years because the family didn’t have Medicaid and feared for the cost.

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“He will die from this because his family didn’t bring him to care,” one doctor wrote, according to court documents reported by the Journal. “It’s just a tragedic case to where he really needed medical care that should have taken place long before,” a Santa Fe police captain told The Telegraph. The couple was released Monday from the Santa Fe county jail on $10,000 unsecured appearance bonds and are each charged with one count of child abuse for failing to secure potentially lifesaving medical care. According to the New Mexican, these are their first criminal charges.

Molly Osberg is a Senior Reporter with G/O Media.

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DISCUSSION

kittenninja
KittenNinja

Sorry but no. This is neglect. This is not okay. Is it awful that healthcare is so expensive & difficult to access in our country? Yes, of course! But you don’t LET YOUR CHILD DIE because you’re scared of debt. You take on the debt. You ask the hospital if they can write off your medical bills as charity for low-income people. (Most hospitals do have this ability, you just have to ask, fill out some paperwork, and meet their criteria.) You get on the internet where you researched herbs that will treat your son’s cancer and complained about masks and spread misinformation on Facebook and look into research hospitals that will treat your kid free of charge. You treat the child, figure out the bills later. You solve the problem, because your job as a parent is to not let your child die. Bankruptcy should be a better option than letting your kid die.

He didn’t die because he was poor, he died because his parents didn’t take him to a doctor for TWO YEARS. You’re also leaving out the LIGATURE MARKS on his wrists, which is mentioned in the ABQ Journal piece you linked. You also left out that his sister said her family “trusts nature, home remedies, herbs and vegetables.” And the fact that dad is a COVID denier and mask-hater spreading misinformation online. And also this:

R.M.’s tumor was so large that doctors couldn’t do chest compressions on him because the tumor would crush his heart. The tumor also prevented breathing tubes from being inserted into R.M.’s lungs.

Medical staff said they were told that R.M. hadn’t been able to walk for several weeks, had been increasingly lethargic, was vomiting several times a day, losing weight and in respiratory distress.

He weighed 68 pounds when he was taken to the hospital.

“R.M. appeared to be in similar disposition to photographs of Nazi concentration camp survivors from World War II,” court documents said.