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Bill to limit faith-healing exemption when child’s life is at risk introduced in House committee

On a day when lawmakers heard hours of passionate testimony against a proposed religious-freedom bill, another House committee quietly introduced legislation from Rep. John Gannon, D-Boise, to limit the “faith-healing” exemption in Idaho law if a child’s life is at risk. “It was just total coincidence,” said Gannon, whose bill was introduced in the House Judiciary Committee, along with a slew of other proposals today; that’s because of a deadline for bill introductions in non-privileged committees. “This is basically a child’s right to live to adulthood,” Gannon said, “and providing medical services to a child who is in danger of dying or serious disability.”

Idaho’s current injury to a child statute has a faith-healing exemption; that’s what Gannon’s seeking to amend. His bill would leave the exemption in place, but declare that it “shall not apply whenever a child’s medical condition has caused death or permanent disability.”

The bill was prompted by the revelation that numerous children from a group called “Followers of Christ” in southern Idaho have died of easily treatable conditions; the sect relies solely on prayer for healing.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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