Lawmakers push to end faith healing defense
The Associated Press reports:
Oregon lawmakers say they will push to end legal protection for parents who rely solely on faith healing to treat their dying children.
A proposed bill targets the Followers of Christ, an Oregon City church with a long history of children dying from treatable medical conditions.
State Rep. Carolyn Tomei, D-Milwaukie, said the deaths of three children of church members in recent years prompted her to introduce the bill.
House Bill 2721 would remove spiritual treatment as a defense for all homicide charges.
Legislators and prosecutors hope the threat of long prison sentences will cause church members to reconsider their tradition of rejecting medical treatment in favor of faith healing.
"It's going to make it easier to hold parents accountable who don't protect their children," said Clackamas County District Attorney John Foote, whose office has prosecuted recent cases involving church members.
The legislation already has wide support from both political parties, prosecutors, medical providers and child-protection groups, and there is no organized opposition.
Followers of Christ Church leaders do not speak to the media and rarely issue statements, and the church did not respond to a request for comment.
The Christian Science Church, which opposed a similar bill that was proposed years ago, changed its position. The continuing deaths "reached a critical mass," said John Clague, Christian Science media and legislative liaison.
"This is not about Christian Science," Clague said. "This is all coming from another denomination. We should never risk the life of a child through the practice of spiritual care."