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Action Alert

Washington: Tell your legislators to protect children by repealing faith-based exemptions

Two bills have been introduced in the Washington House and Senate that would repeal faith-based healing protections for parents who choose not to seek medical attention for their children based on their religious beliefs. Currently, Washington has a law that protects these parents from legal charges even if their children die as a result of this negligence.

The two companion bills, HB 1376 and SB 5749, aim to remove this exemption as it relates to “criminal mistreatment of children and vulnerable adults.”

The law currently states that: “It is the intent of the Legislature that a person who, in good faith, is furnished Christian Science treatment by a duly accredited Christian Science practitioner in lieu of medical care is not considered deprived of medically necessary health care or abandoned.”

If these two proposed bills are passed, this language will be removed and children will no longer be at risk of death because of the state sanctioning their parents’ dangerous religious beliefs. Please  ask the members of both the House and Senate committees reviewing these bills to support them. The Washington Legislature collects comments on proposed bills on their website. Click on the links below to access the comment page for the corresponding body and click on the green button on the right side of the page that reads "comment on this bill."

Comment on HB 1376

Comment on SB 5749

TALKING POINTS
As a Washington constituent, I am urging you to support HB 1376/SB 5749, which will remove faith-based healing exemptions for parents whose religious beliefs and subsequent medical neglect result in their children’s death.

Currently, practitioners of religions that discourage seeking medical attention can claim an explicit exemption from liability for their children’s health, even if their child dies as a result of this neglect. This is unacceptable. Elected officials have an obligation to pass laws that protect the most vulnerable among us, including children.

Allowing parents to dodge responsibility for the health and well-being of their children based on their religious beliefs is an affront to the rights of children. Please support HB 1376/SB 5749. Thank you.