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1/26/2014 12:21 am  #1

Gannon's draft bill

Boise lawmaker targets faith healing in children's deaths
by Karen Zatkulak
January 16, 2014

BOISE -- Democratic State Representative John Gannon of Boise wants to outlaw a controversial practice that protects parents who use prayer as the primary treatment for sick children who later die or are permanently disabled.
Gannon's draft bill is now making its way around the Idaho Statehouse. Although, there's no word on when the bill will be heard, supporters say it could save lives.

That's because a variety of religions practice faith-based healing, including the Oregon-based Followers of Christ, which includes members in Boise. Linda Martin was born and raised a Follower of Christ in Boise, but is no longer a member. "I think anytime you deal with children and dying it's troubling for people," Martin told KTVB. 

Martin confirms that children of the faith have died from treatable illnesses in Idaho, but she doesn't know exactly how many. She says the troubling aspect of faith healing is that parents of children who die from lack of medical care aren't criminally charged in this practice. "It's about protecting children, and I think all children should be protected equally under the law," said Martin.

Idaho's current law states, "The practice of a parent or guardian who chooses for his child treatment by prayer or spiritual means alone shall not for that reason alone be construed to have violated the duty of care to such a child."
Gannon's draft bill would add an important provision to that bill: "However, this exemption shall not apply whenever a child's medical condition may cause death or permanent disability."
Rep. Gannon says his bill would not require parents to seek medical help for minor issues or sicknesses, but only for those illnesses that could lead to death or permanent disability.

"The health of a child trumps ideology, and philosophy," Gannon said. "A child has a right to become an adult and receive treatment." 
Furthermore, Gannon says protecting the life of a child should be above protecting religious beliefs.
"As children, I think society recognizes there are some minimal standards that need to be met and physical harm to children is something as a society we reject," said Rep. Gannon.

News video

Idaho Interfaith Alliance supports it. Video


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