"In any prosecution for endangering the welfare of a child
based upon an alleged failure
or refusal to provide proper medical treatment to an ill child,
it is an affirmative defense
that the defendant is a parent, guardian or other person legally charged with the care or custody of
is a member or adherent of any organized church
or religious group
the tenets of which prescribe prayer as the principle treatment for illness
and treated or caused
such ill child
to be treated in accordance with such tenets."
New York Penal Law 260.15
Rita Swan, founder of Children's Healcare Is a Legal Duty, Inc. http://childrenshealthcare.org/ wrote:
"As for parents' rights, we believe the state's power to intervene in the family should be limited,
but also even-handed.
No parents should be required to seek medical care for trivial, self-limiting illnesses.
Parents should not be required to continue with medical care that does not have a good probability of saving life, preventing permanent harm, or at least relieving severe pain.
But at the point when a Methodist, Jew, or atheist parent would have a legal duty to take a child to a doctor
(usually that point is when a reasonable parent would recognize the child was at risk of substantial harm), a Christian Science parent should have that same duty."
Is it reasonable to ask that this religious defense be changed so that everyone is treated equally? Especially children?
Why would the Christian Science church resist such changes?
Something to think about.