Catherine Schaible, the Philadelphia mother who was charged with the murder of her baby son after praying for him rather than getting him medical care, is out free on bail. Schaible, 43, was released from jail on Friday after the judge set her bail at $250,000 and ordered that Schaible must live at her parent's house under electronically supervised "house arrest."
Schaible and her 44-year-old husband, Herbert, are charged with third degree murder in the death of their 8-month-old son Brandon. The couple was already on 10 years probation for the 2009 death of their 2-year-old son Kent who died of pneumonia (they were convicted of involuntary manslaughter in that death). The terms of that probation specificed that they seek "medical care for their remaining children."
The Schaibles are members of the First Century Gospel Church, and as such they show their faith in God by turning to prayer rather than medicine to cure illness.
Under the conditions of her bail, Schaible can leave the house only to go to court, to talk to her attorney or to visit with her 7 children (the visits are court supervised). The children range in age from 8 to 17, and are currently in foster care.
The court refused to grant bail to Schaible's husband. It's not clear what that judge's reasoning was, but Catherine Schaibel's attorney has said Catherine bears less responsibility in her children's deaths because the couple followed church teachings that a wife must be "submissive to her husband."
This is such a complicated case. If you practice a religion other than the Schaible's -- or no religion at all -- it's difficult to understand how someone could have so much faith in their beliefs that they risk the lives of not one, but two of their children. Yet people do all kinds of things in the name of religion that are hard for others to comprehend but we respect their beliefs. It's hard to know where to draw the line.
If there's any substance to Mrs. Schaible's attorney's claim that she is less culpable because she was following her husband's orders, things get even more complex -- and heartbreaking. It means Catherine so believed in her faith that she couldn't contradict her husband's apparent mandate that they not seek medical care for their sick son. And she had to follow his orders on this not once, but twice -- the second time knowing the tragic way things ended for her son Kent just 3 years earlier. Awful.
Do you think Catherine Schaible should have got bail? Do you think she even belongs in jail in the first place?