Under current law, Washington State fails to completely protect children from medical neglect. Because of religious exemption loopholes, parents and caretakers can get away with providing only prayer instead of necessary medical care to children.
This is not right. The law must be changed!
Fortunately, the Child Health Protection Act (HB 1376/SB 5749) is making strong progress in both the Washington State House and Senate. This legislation will protect vulnerable children and eliminate these unconstitutional religious exemptions.
Now is the time to push this legislation forward and pass it into law!
The Child Health Protection Act will ensure that the government can take action to protect children and to prosecute instances of medical neglect. This legislation has broad bipartisan support and has been endorsed by child welfare advocates, medical professionals, religious groups, civil rights advocates, prosecutors, and parents’ groups.
Everyone agrees that this is the right thing to do, but lawmakers need to hear from you to understand that it is a priority.
In 2009, 17 year old Zachery Swezey of Carlton, Washington, died from appendicitis after his parents refused to seek medical treatment due to their religious beliefs. Appendicitis has a less than 1% fatality rate when treated with conventional medicine. Under Washington’s current law, caretakers and providers who cause tragic deaths like this one in the name of their religion cannot be prosecuted.
This cannot stand. No one’s religious beliefs are more important than a child’s life.