Is Our Society's Strict Adherence to Religious Freedoms Costing the Lives of Innocent Children?

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  • Topic: Mary Baker Eddy, Christian Science, Holman Christian Standard Bible
  • Pages : 6 (1910 words )
  • Download(s) : 55
  • Published : June 29, 2012
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Is our society’s strict adherence to religious freedoms costing the lives of innocent children? The Christian Science Church rely on the Establishment Clause and The Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment as granting themselves and their children exemption from medical intervention. But because of their insistence in relying solely on prayer for the healing their sick children, approximately one child a month in the U.S. is known to die from an illness that would have been curable had they had medical attention. 1 Religious liberties of parents might protect their beliefs, but it should not protect their conduct of denying the rights of a child to his or her life. Section 1. of the 14th Amendment states, “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”. The Religious liberties of Christian Science parents deprive their children of life by denying them the equality of the opportunity for medical attention. American Civil Liberties Union made the following statement regarding state religious exemption laws: “Children have rights too, and parents have certain rights which end when they intrude too far into a child's right to live...the parent's right to bring up the child in the way the parent thinks best-an important right...ends at the point at which the parents' actions endanger the lives of kids...there cannot be in our view a religious exemption no matter how sincere a parent's belief...2 The state has a right to ensure the 14th Amendment rights of Christian Science children. It saw no conflict in reauthorizing the 1974 Federal Child Abuse Prevention Treatment Act in the Keeping Children Safe Act of 2003. Certainly neglecting to get one’s child life saving medical care falls into this category of abuse. Dr. Seth Asser commented: "You can't beat, sexually abuse or starve your kids, but the law allows a parent to refuse medical care in favor of magic. This is not just a social phenomenon, but a public-health issue." 3 Both federal and state governments are responsible for the ambiguous nature of the laws in the matter of religious liberties verses the opportunity for the equality of medical care for their children. In 1974, the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare required states to have clauses in their child abuse and neglect legislation permitting exemptions from prosecution of parents on religious grounds. State refusal to do so would not receive federal child abuse protection grants. In 1983, the federal government allowed states to repeal these clauses but most states still allowed parents to use a religious defense if their child dies because prayer was used instead of medical treatment. ( B.A. Robinson-4) The very nature of this dichotomy where the feds repeal clauses while states cherry pick their decisions as each case goes to trial is without conscience. The American Academy of Pediatrics study by Dr. Asser, MD and Dr. Swan, PhD that examined child fatality in faith-healing sects identified 140 of the 172 whose survival would have exceeded 90% with medical treatment.(Pediatrics -5) Dr. Swan as a former Christian Science member gives personal testimony to the devastation caused when medical attention was withheld causing the death of their 16 month son. "As the doctors explained how the meningitis was causing all the symptoms we had seen, I finally realized that disease was a physical fact with physical explanations " according to Rita. "Medical knowledge shattered the ignorance which had mired us in Christian Science." (Bell -6) Courts are beginning to unravel the ambiguity created by the uneasiness in handling state religious exemptions and finding they do not necessarily exempt parents from the responsibility of obtaining...
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