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Saturday, May 13, 2017

Idaho Needs to Remove Its Faith Healing Exemption

Last summer, the Idaho Legislature's Mariah Walton Faith Healing Panel convened to hear arguments and testimony about Idaho's faith-healing exemption, which provides that parents who reject medical treatment for their children based on their religious beliefs are exempted from legal prosecution.

One of Mariah Walton's sisters gave emotional testimony that declared in practically the same breath that had her parents realized that Mariah had been born with a congenital heart defect, they would have made other choices. Yet in commenting on a proposed regulation that would require parents to provide semi-annual medical wellness check-ups, she complained about having "laws for everything," and asked rhetorically who should have to pay for such check-ups if they were to be required by "your laws." I daresay that most parents would think that wellness check-ups that would reveal serious illnesses in time to treat them would be a small price to pay.

When I began this blog, it was to reach out to parents who I believed may have felt trapped by the teachings of their faith, and been afraid to provide proper medical treatment for their children. But after listening to and reading testimony from the panel's hearing, and thinking about what the State of Oregon did to solve its problem of deaths caused by child neglect, I've become convinced that the first order of business should be to change state laws that protect parents from prosecution for legally sanctioned child neglect.

In the end, The Mariah Walton Faith Healing Panel declined to make a recommendation to the Idaho State Legislature. Idaho's citizens need to ask themselves if it is moral to have an exemption to child safety laws, which permit parents to legally neglect their children. Write or call your elected representatives and insist that the exemption be removed from child safety laws.

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