With the close of the Idaho legislature, more children will die

With the close of the Idaho legislature, more children will die

ID legislature

We’re sorry to report that yet another year has gone by in which the Idaho legislature has refused to help children who are getting extremely ill, suffering disability, and dying—all due to lawmakers fiercely clinging to a twisted belief in “religious freedom.”

As you may know, Idaho is home to the Followers of Christ church, which hates and fears doctors so much—and believes so strongly in the power of prayer—that they provide sick children, no matter how ill, with no medical care. Currently, more children die of “faith healing” medical neglect in Idaho than in any other state, because in Idaho, the laws protect parents who commit these abuses from being prosecuted.

This also means that infants struggling for breath at birth are not taken to the hospital. Elementary-school children who have diabetes are refused insulin until they get dehydrated, enter a comatose state, and die. And teenagers risk dying from infection when a simple prescription for antibiotics could cure them.

Of course, for every child who dies, there are untold numbers of others who suffer every day with discomfort, pain, and permanent disability. (Think about these kids the next time you reach for an over-the-counter remedy for a headache, back pain, or menstrual cramps.)

Some progress was made this session. For the first time, lawmakers allowed a bill to have a hearing. SB1182 was far from perfect, but at least it marked an interest among legislators to do something, and members of the public got to speak on behalf of children who have died or are at risk of religious medical neglect.

Also, thanks to the work of tireless child advocates, such as Protect Idaho Kids (which held a vigil at the Capitol for children who have died and are at risk for “faith-healing” medical neglect), Children’s Healthcare Is a Legal Duty (CHILD), and local religious leaders, there was lots of media attention paid to this issue. I wrote a number of op-eds in local papers on behalf of the Child-Friendly Faith Project.

Can we count on you to help save the lives of these kids? The next legislative session isn’t until next January, but the time to act is now. The most important thing you can do is to donate to Protect Idaho Kids and write to legislators in Idaho. You can do all of this from PIK’s website.

Idaho Governor talks about ‘faith healing’ child deaths; town hall meeting is held

Idaho Governor talks about ‘faith healing’ child deaths; town hall meeting is held

Panelists at Boise town hall meeting (Nishant Mohan/ID Public Radio)

Last week, before I headed to Boise, Idaho, I was looking forward to being part of a panel discussion organized by local child advocates. The purpose was to offer a public forum for Idahoans who wanted to ask questions and share their views about the state’s religious “faith healing” exemptions.

But I had no idea just how significant the week would turn out to be.

On Wednesday, the day before the event took place, Rep. John Gannon submitted a bill to the Senate Health and Welfare Committee. The bill aims to better protect children who are raised in religious groups that reject medical care. (Previously, committee chairman Sen. Lee Heider had promised a hearing if a bill on the issue was submitted to his committee although he remains steadfastly opposed to changing the law.) On Thursday, Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter stated he wants the legislature to study the issue. Read More »

An open letter to the people of Idaho

An open letter to the people of Idaho

Lauren in creekMany Idahoans are clear on where they stand on the issue of “faith healing” medical neglect.

There are those who believe that the state has a responsibility to protect the health and safety of its children, including those who are being raised by parents or guardians with extreme beliefs about faith healing. And there are those who believe that religious freedom is so critically important, that parents who religiously oppose medical care may refuse to take their child to a doctor even if it means that child suffers, becomes very sick or permanently disabled, or dies.

But I’m not directing this blog post to either of those groups. Rather, I’m speaking to the undecided, those who aren’t sure which camp they’re in, because they believe in both freedom of religion and a child’s right to be protected from abuse and neglect. Read More »

What is #ProjectIdaho?

What is #ProjectIdaho?

Too many children in Idaho are dying from “faith healing” medical neglect.

It’s time the state did something to stop it.

The Child-Friendly Faith Project doesn’t get involved in politics too oftenexcept when it comes to Idaho. Why? Because Idaho’s laws fail to protect the health of children who are raised in families and communities that deny their sons and daughters medical care for religious reasons.

As a result, many children are suffering and even dying from such treatable conditions as infection and diabetes.

Why? Because in Idaho, it’s legal for parents or guardians to deny a child needed medical care if they claim it’s for religious reasons. Even if that child suffers. Even if that child becomes permanently disabled. Even if that child dies. Read More »

“Parents rights” advocates have scored a victory now that Idaho has passed House Bill 113. But what does it mean for Idaho’s children?

“Parents rights” advocates have scored a victory now that Idaho has passed House Bill 113. But what does it mean for Idaho’s children?

shadow familyOn April 2, Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter signed into law House Bill 113 known as the “parents rights” bill. It will become law on July 1 of this year.

The bill was one of many similar pieces of legislation being lobbied around the country by the Home School Legal Defense Association, whose mission is to “preserve and advance the fundamental, God-given, constitutional right of parents and others legally responsible for their children to direct their education.”

According to the HSLDA, the law doesn’t give parents more rights, it just codifies them, a necessary step say proponents who are convinced that the courts are beginning to strip them away. In announcing its victory, HSLDA stated on its website: “You don’t have any more rights now than you did before. But the rights you already have by virtue of being a parent are now far safer.”

The lobbying group is particularly worried that government is interfering with parents’ ability to make decisions about their children’s education. According to HSLDA’s website parentalrights.org, “It is no accident, no coincidence. And it’s not just your imagination. There really is a steady trend by the government and the courts to remove the influence of parents from the public schools.”

Read More »