Good news out of Oregon: The loophole that gave religious parents a “Get Out of Jail Free” card when they killed their sick children by praying for them in lieu of taking them to a real doctor has been nixed.
The bill passed unanimously, though two Republican representatives raised concerns that the legislation was taking the issue away from juries and sending the state down a slippery slope.
The legislation comes in response to an Oregon City church, the Followers of Christ, that has a long history of child deaths even though the conditions from which the children died were medically treatable.
Leave it to a state Republican to misconstrue what the bill is all about:
Rep. Jim Weidner, R-Yamhill, said he worried “we might be heading down a slippery slope.” He said he prayed earlier in the day about his son’s severe tonsillitis. His wife took his son to the doctor Thursday morning, he added, but “am I going to go to prison because I took the time to pray with my child?”
Of course not. Weidner is welcome to waste his time as he pleases. His son is getting the care he needs and he’s not in a life-threatening situation. This isn’t about people like him.
It’s about the parents of Neil Beagley, who let their son die of “an inflammation of his urethra because they figured a god would cure him.”
It’s about the parents of Ava Worthington, who let their 15-month-old daughter suffer and die while they prayed around her, refusing to take her to a doctor.
It’s about the parents of Alayna May Wyland, who let Alayna’s eye deteriorate when medical help would have fixed the problem. They said no to a doctor and yes to a god.
The new legislation, House Bill 2721, “eliminates reliance on spiritual treatment as defense to certain crimes in which victim is under 18 years of age.”
It’s a smart move. It may not directly save the lives of children born to these reckless parents, but it will make sure the parents are punished for their negligence.