Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Clear Night 31° Clear

Eye On Boise

Testimony: ‘These children have the right to live’

In testimony so far this morning on SB 1182, the faith healing bill:

Linda Martin told the senators, “I’m representing the hundreds of children that have perished because of faith healing. Prayer alone is not medical care. Free exercise of religion does not give people the right to hurt children.” She said the bill “will do nothing to protect children,” saying, “This bill will allow even more Idaho parents to use prayer as an excuse for neglecting a child’s basic medical needs.”

“These children have the right to live,” she said. “Right now in Idaho, a child’s right to live ends at birth. There are laws to protect freedom of religion. Removing these statutes from the criminal and civil codes would require every person in Idaho to follow the same duty of care to a child with no exceptions.”

Sherry Iverson, executive director of the Idaho Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said, “Parenthood is an awesome privilege, but with that comes responsibilities,” including providing food, shelter, education and medical care. She said Idaho pediatricians are “very concerned about the proposed changes” in the bill. “The bill specifically is dangerous in regards to the religious exemptions to parents who rely on prayer. Relying on prayer as this bill states would expand its definition to parents who rely on prayer completely  or ‘in part.’ Almost all parents would say they rely on prayer in some part.” But she said expanding the definition would allow more cases to not be scrutinized for child neglect. Plus, she said, “This bill also asks the court to consider the wishes of the child. ... There is no mention of the age or maturity of the child.” She said, “This bill will not increase the likelihood of children getting care.”

Bruce Wingate of the Protection Idaho Kids Foundation, said, “Our children cannot protect themselves. When they are in danger of being harmed or dying, the state has a duty to protect them.” He said in Idaho, infants are dying during childbirth, children in elementary school are dying from diabetes because they are refused insulin. “Pneumonia has taken the lives of a great many children,” he said. “In the name of humanity, please repeal these laws and allow children the right to a healthy life.” He said the changes in the bill “have the potential to allow for more children to die of faith healing medical neglect than do today.”

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.

Follow Betsy online: