WHY WE MUST REPEAL RELIGIOUS EXEMPTIONS
Protect Idaho Kids wholeheartedly opposes religious exemptions in Idaho’s child abuse statutes, because they leave children vulnerable to sickness, disability, and death. The health and lives of all Idaho children must be protected. These exemptions provide religious groups broad immunity from criminal prosecution and civil liability in cases in which children get very sick, become disabled, or die from medical neglect.
In the 1970’s, many states enacted religious exemptions in their criminal and civil statutes to receive federal funding. Federal funding is no longer tied to these exemptions. Idaho has two religious exemptions in criminal statutes and two in civil statutes. Because of the existence of anti-medical care religious sects in Idaho, more children die from religious medical neglect in Idaho than in any other state.
Protect Idaho Kids estimates that hundreds of children have died from religious medical neglect since the exemptions were enacted. The Governor’s Task Force on Children at Risk has estimated the number of children who die as a result of this form of medical neglect to be at least ten times that of the general child population. On average, three or four children die every year. However, the state does not accurately track these cases, so the number could be even higher.
Protect Idaho Kids strongly believes in freedom of religion, but we, like most Idahoans, understand that religious practices should not be limitless. We agree with the US Supreme Court’s 1944 decision (Prince v. Massachusetts) in which the court ruled that parents may not make religious “martyrs” of their children.
On February 19, 2018, we held our March to Protect Idaho Kids to honor children whose lives were cut short due to “faith healing” medical neglect and urge Idaho lawmakers to immediately repeal all four religious exemptions in the state’s criminal and civil statutes In addition, the state must lift the veil of secrecy surrounding these illnesses and death and start reporting all cases in which children are denied needed medical care for religious reasons.
Tell our legislators to repeal these dangerous exemptions by clicking here.