Should Faith-Healing Parents Be Allowed To Let Their Kids Die? Idaho Debates!

The Attorney General’s office in Idaho has issued a proposal that would hold parents legally responsible if their child “is harmed, sicked or dies” as a result of them refusing medical treatment in favor of faith healing.

Under current Idaho laws, parents who choose to substitute medical treatment with prayer are exempt from being charged with manslaughter or homicidal negligence. In recent years, Idaho has seen several preventable child deaths from things like food poisoning and pneumonia as a result of the beliefs of religious groups like the Pentacostal sect Followers of Christ which shuns followers for seeking medical treatment.

Now–most reasonable people would say that this shouldn’t even be up for debate. Not getting your child medical treatment is a form of neglect, regardless of your religious beliefs. However, several Idaho Republicans are opposing the bill on the grounds that it would violate the religious freedom of the adults involved.

One of those opposing the law is Sen. Lee Heider, the Republican Chairman of the Senate’s Health and Welfare Committee.

“I believe the law is pretty straightforward. We would encourage them to seek medical care, but we don’t force people to seek medical care — and whether it’s because they can’t afford it or, in this case, because of their heartfelt religious belief, we simply don’t do that.”

First of all–we should never, ever have a situation where a child cannot get medical care because their parents can’t afford it. That is completely insane. Frankly, I don’t think we should ever have a situation where anyone cannot afford medical care, but we can save the single payer discussion for another post.

This is essentially child abuse, and religious beliefs are not an excuse for child abuse or neglect. That’s why Warren Jeffs is in prison! While faith-healing and rejecting medical treatment is certainly an option adults can choose for themselves, it’s definitely not an option they should be allowed to choose for their children. 

Last year, when a similar law was proposed and defeated, state Rep. Christy Perry opposed it, stating that “This is about religious beliefs, the belief God is in charge of whether they live, and God is in charge of whether they die… This is about where they go for eternity.”

If that is true, then parents who willingly killed their kids at the behest of Jim Jones did nothing wrong. Then this woman, who killed her kid because she thought he would be better off in heaven did nothing wrong. If that were true then we would literally permit any illegal act anyone commits if they say they did it because of their religious beliefs. We do not do that, because that would be ridiculous.

Religious freedom doesn’t mean you get to do whatever you want, regardless of how it affects the lives of others. I couldn’t invent a religion where I get to rob banks and expect to not go to prison were I to do so.

Parents whose children die as a result of refusing medical treatment in favor of prayer need to be prosecuted. This should not be allowed–this should not be a decision anyone but an adult person can make for themselves.

[Raw Story]