17 Dec 2008

Oregon child abuse laws and Christian Science

Statesman Journal - Oregon
December 17, 2008

Opinion | by Rita Swan

We disagree with Craig Luedeman (letters, Dec. 9) who claims Oregon law allows Christian Science parents to withhold medical care from children because of his church's good healing results.

Many Christian Science children have died of untreated diabetes, measles complications, diphtheria, meningitis and other infectious diseases. Christian Science has no scientific evidence that it can heal serious diseases of children.
Since the legislative reforms in 1999, several Oregon laws have required all parents to obtain medical care when a reasonable parent would recognize that the child was at risk of serious harm. The standard is not whether a parent whose religion claims disease is an illusion thinks his child needs medical care, but whether a jury thinks so.
Prior to 1999, the Christian Science church had gotten shocking religious exemptions to homicide, manslaughter, criminal mistreatment and criminal nonsupport into Oregon law. The church fought the 1999 legislative reforms tooth and nail and still has religious exemptions to homicide and first-degree manslaughter in state law.
— Rita Swan, president of Children's Healthcare is a Legal Duty, Bronson, Iowa
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