Mariah Walton, a 20-year-old Idaho woman who was born with a hole in her heart, wants her parents prosecuted because they allegedly refused to get her medical care when she was younger due to their religious beliefs, skepticism of modern health care and anti-government suspicions (video below).
Walton told NBC News that her congenital heart defect could have been surgically corrected had her parents sought medical care when she was 1-year-old, KTVB reports:
My parents believe in a lot of conspiracy theories. They believe that the world is going to end. They believe in a lot of alternative medicine supplements. But because they never got me help it was mostly because they had a fear of the government. They would say “doctors are evil” and "doctors kill more people than they help people."
My dad and my mom, they rejected any kinds of stuff like that. They used to pray over me. They’d say, "God’s going to heal you, just have faith," and all kinds of stuff. It was a mix of their faith, prayer and the government.
So both of those created a fantasy in their head that taking me to a doctor would be worse, so they prayed over me, and [thought] giving me supplements would heal me and would solve the thing with my sickness.
Walton said her parents lived in an "illogical fantasy" that allowed them to believe they were good parents because they did the best they could.
"I think that they should have been held accountable and someone should have intervened also, but that's past and I think it’s time to prosecute them," Walton added.
Parents cannot be prosecuted in Idaho if their deeply-held religious beliefs prevent them from getting medical treatment for their children, even if the kids die.
Walton supports a proposed law that would force parents to get their children medical care.
However, some state lawmakers believe such legislation would violate parental and religious rights.
Republican State Sen. Lee Heider said: "It's a First Amendment right, the freedom of religion."
In response to that argument, Walton told NBC News: "You're also infringing upon the rights of those children who want to live. They have a right to live too."
A spokesperson for Children’s Right to Live, an advocacy group, told The Independent that Idaho lawmakers have considered one bill that would "rearrange the left language in the laws to create the appearance of making reforms without actually changing anything substantive," and "another would have made things worse by expanding the loophole to cover parents who neglect their children in the name of ideological as well as religious beliefs and practices."
Walton's mother told NBC News in 2016 that she tried natural medicine for her offspring, and didn't realize how ill Walton was when she had the family pray for her.