Police arrested a 23-year-old Casselberry, Florida woman Wednesday on charges of child neglect after she refused to seek medical treatment for her newborn baby because of her rigid vegan dietary beliefs.
According to Orlando’s WKMG Channel 6, Sarah Anne Markham’s pediatrician told her the 12-day-old was dehydrated and losing weight and needed to be admitted to Florida Hospital South.
The doctor gave Markham medicine to help the baby, but she refused to administer it because it contained non-vegan ingredients. When she failed to report to the hospital, health care personnel notified the police.
Markham refused to answer her apartment door when police arrived. Officers called a locksmith to gain admittance to the home. The woman told police that she disagreed with the doctor’s diagnosis. Her baby was still having bowel movements, she said, and therefore couldn’t be dehydrated.
She told police that she was seeking a second opinion from a “natural” doctor, whose practice, she said, is “religious-based.” The baby was drinking soy-based formula from Whole Foods, she said, which was better than what the pediatrician prescribed because it doesn’t contain animal products.
When a police officer asked Markham if she had confirmed with a doctor that the Whole Foods formula was safe for her baby, she replied that she didn’t need to. Whole Foods wouldn’t sell it if it wasn’t organic or contained animal-derived ingredients, she said.
Under pressure from police, Markham finally agreed to take the baby to Florida South, but only, she said, because they were forcing her to.
An hour later, she had not left the house. At that time, police placed her under arrest and removed the baby from Markham’s custody.
Police told WKMG that Markham displayed a blithe, “carefree” attitude as she was driven to jail, even though officers explained to her that she would not see her baby again until after a trial, if then.
Markham bonded out of jail the same day. Her baby is currently in state custody.
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