The American Academy of Pediatrics released its policy statement calling for repeal of the religious exemptions to child abuse and neglect laws that still exist in many states. (See Reuters’ report on the statement’s release.) It is the strongest statement yet to come out of the AAP’s Committee on Bioethics. Together with the policy positions taken by other professional medical and legal organizations (see below), it poses a powerful moral and practical argument for the idea that children’s healthcare is a legal duty.
The statement also included for the first time a well-developed argument against public funding for unproven methods of so-called healthcare by unlicensed providers. For example, most people are not aware that Medicare and Medicaid will pay for room and board at Christian Science sanatoria even though no medical treatment or palliative care is allowed there. Only Christian Science prayer treatment is allowed and, in fact, mandated for admission to such facilities. In a similar vein, the Internal Revenue Service allows tax deductions for payments to Christian Science practitioners (healers) for their prayers — in or outside sanatoria — and for which there is no proof of effectiveness. While the AAP did not specifically address that latter accommodation to the politically influential Christian Science church, its strong stand that public monies should not be spent on unproven spiritual and religious therapies might well be logically extrapolated to include the current IRS policy as well.
Below are links to some of the professional medical, legal, and child welfare organizations supporting repeal of the religious exemptions: