“Pointless and Preventable”
An Overview of Religion-Based Medical Neglect of Children
This chapter provides an overview of religion-based medical neglect of children, in which devout parents forego providing adequate medical care to their ailing sons and daughters because the doctrines of their religious faiths prohibit it. It outlines the pervasiveness of the phenomenon among members of particular Christian churches (including Christian Science) in the United States, describing in general terms how, since the late 19th century, it has resulted in numerous deaths and injuries to children. The chapter then details how these injuries have generated tangled legal conflicts – implicating such issues as religious liberty and children's rights – when prosecutors have filed criminal charges against parents who have chosen faith-healing practices over medicine. The chapter pays particular attention to how murky manslaughter and child neglect statutes have complicated such legal cases.
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