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Idaho Republican sees no reason to require faith-healing parents to seek medical treatment for dying kids

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State Sen. Lee Heider (Facebook)

An Idaho Republican is refusing to back a proposal that would require religious parents to seek medical care for their dying children — but he won’t promise any changes to a state law protecting faith healers.

Parents are allowed under state law to substitute prayer as a form of medical treatment and carves out a religious exemption to manslaughter, capital murder and negligent homicide charges if those prayers go unanswered and their child dies.

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Critics of the law said some Idaho children are needlessly dying from treatable ailments such as diabetes, pneumonia and food poisoning-related dehydration, reported KOIN-TV.

“These are not things children die of in our time,” said Linda Martin, who has been pushing for changes to the law. “This is what children died of back in the 1800s — not in the 2000.”

Martin grew up in the Pentecostal group known as the Followers of Christ, which punishes members who seek medical care by shunning them from their church.

The church forbids the use of medicines such as antibiotics, but state law protects parents from charges if they supplement their prayers with just the slightest gesture toward health treatment — such as giving a sick child orange juice.

A measure that would have limited the religious exemption was defeated last year, following a string of preventable child deaths, because Republican lawmakers said it would have violated the sect’s religious freedom.

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“Children do die,” said state Rep. Christy Perry (R-Nampa) last year. “I’m not trying to sound callous, but (reformers) want to act as if death is an anomaly. But it’s not — it’s a way of life.”

The state Attorney General’s Office handed down a proposal that would limit the religious exemption from prosecution under statute 18-5101 if “the child is harmed or sickened or dies.”

The amendment is backed by the child fatality review subcommittee, which is made up of law enforcement and medical professionals, that examines deaths blamed on natural causes.

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The Republican chairman of the state Senate’s Health and Welfare Committee said he saw no reason to amend the law or even call for a hearing.

“I believe the law is pretty straightforward,” said state Sen. Lee Heider, of Twin Falls. “We would encourage them to seek medical care, but we don’t force people to seek medical care — and whether it’s because they can’t afford it or, in this case, because of their heartfelt religious belief, we simply don’t do that.”

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Heider said he would not sponsor the measure, but he would allow a hearing if another lawmaker asked.

“If someone approaches me wanting to carry that legislation then, yes, I’ll hold a hearing,” the GOP lawmaker said. “I can’t guarantee the outcome of the hearing. I can’t tell you what the other members of my committee would choose to do with that legislation, but if someone chooses to do that, I would be the first to stand up and give them the right to bring that legislation forward.”

Martin, however, found little appetite among lawmakers for changing the law.

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“I’ve spoken to several legislators, and there’s been no plan on presenting a bill,” Martin said.

Watch this video report posted online by KOIN-TV:


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2020 Election

Lincoln Project whacks the president: ‘We end COVID when we end Trump’s presidency’

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President Donald Trump on Thursday held a campaign rally in Wisconsin with supporters "packed in like sardines."

At the rally, Trump ridiculed former Vice President Joe Biden for social distancing at campaign appearances with America's death toll over 200,000. Also on Thursday, Biden held a town hall meeting on CNN where he spoke in-depth about the challenges of a coronavirus vaccine.

The Lincoln Project, the group of former top GOP strategists working to defeat Trump, said that "only one candidate will protect your family from coronavirus" in a new video.

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Trump said he would give UN speech despite pandemic — but reversed course and won’t be attending

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US President Donald Trump will not attend next week's UN General Assembly gathering in person, his chief of staff told journalists aboard Air Force One Thursday, according to a pool report.

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2020 Election

Trump mocked for 95-minute ‘slurring’ campaign speech — before crowd ‘packed in like sardines’ in Wisconsin

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President Donald Trump gave a fear-filled and factually inaccurate campaign rally in Mosinee, Wisconsin on Thursday.

The rally, held in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, featured a large crowd closely packed together.

Here's some of what people were saying about Trump's speech, which lasted approximately 95 minutes:

https://twitter.com/RSBNetwork/status/1306433275381116928

https://twitter.com/bad_takes/status/1306758848577966081

Trump is slurring and sounds tired pic.twitter.com/6MJLw2fpms

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