Idaho lawmakers have proposed legislation making it a requirement that parents seek medical attention for their children. This comes after four kids died of treatable illnesses because their religion calls for faith-healing.
State Rep. Christy Perry, R-Nampa, opposes the law because she fears it will trample religious freedom and a parent’s right not to have their children medically treated.
"This is about religious beliefs, the belief God is in charge of whether they live, and God is in charge of whether they die," said Perry. "This is about where they go for eternity."
Rep. John Gannon, D-Boise, says faith-healing should not be exempt from injury-to-a-child charges.
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"These children need a chance to grow up," Martin told The Associated Press Thursday.
The law currently has this exemption: "Treatment by prayer or spiritual means alone shall not for that reason alone be construed to have violated the duty of care to such child."
Many of the child deaths would have been prevented by antibiotics.
In June 2012, 15-year-old Arrian Jade Granden died from food poisoning after three days of vomiting, when his esophagus ruptured, the San Francisco Gate reported.
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In November 2011, 16-year-old Pamela Ells died of pneumonia, according to the Payette County coroner.
In March 2011, 22-month-old Preston John Bowers died of pneumonia after suffering from a fever for several days.
The same month, Rockwell Alexander Sevy, 14, died after a two-week illness. The Canyon County coroner ruled the cause of death as complications due to pneumonia.
Gannon wants to make it mandatory that a child receive medical attention "whenever a child's medical condition may cause death or permanent disability."
"Medical treatment for physical harm to a child should supersede every other consideration," Gannon said.
Republican Rep. Rich Wills (Glenns Ferry), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, supports the measure.
"I'm concerned any parent would put their religious beliefs ahead of child welfare," Wills said. "It just stuns me."
Ada County Coroner Erwin Sonnenberg says he favors faith-healing limits, but he said he isn’t confident these parents will heed them.
"At times, you sit back and wonder, 'Is my faith that strong?'" Sonnenberg said. "I understand the faith side of it. But it seems like at least let your kids grow up, when it comes down to it, and decide for themselves."