Ahem. So last week I had to go on the Science-Based Medicine website and offer an apology. Don’t ask. Just another one of those humbling experiences that I seem to so often have the opportunity to experience. And today I must send out another apology – this time to my fellow Christian Scientists.
The apology from last week and today’s apology are actually connected – they’re both about a couple of laws in Washington State that allow parents to use Christian Science treatment without being accused of child neglect.
Today’s apology involves my assumption that there were Christian Scientists at work right now to lobby our Washington State legislature to protect Christian Science parents from being prosecuted should their children come to harm due to neglect. Man. Did I get THAT story wrong. Turns out these were laws that were put in the books back in 1997 – and they weren’t meant to protect Christian Science parents from prosecution for neglect should their children come to harm, but were meant to prevent Christian Science parents from prosecution for neglect just BECAUSE they use Christian Science treatment for their children. Law RCW 26.44.020 reads in part: “A person who is being furnished Christian Science treatment by a duly accredited Christian Science practitioner will not be considered, for that reason alone, a neglected person for the purposes of this chapter.”
Here are the laws:
Findings and intent — Christian Science treatment — Rules of evidence.
The legislature finds that there is a significant need to protect children and dependent persons, including frail elder and vulnerable adults, from abuse and neglect by their parents, by persons entrusted with their physical custody, or by persons employed to provide them with the basic necessities of life. The legislature further finds that such abuse and neglect often takes the forms of either withholding from them the basic necessities of life, including food, water, shelter, clothing, and health care, or abandoning them, or both. Therefore, it is the intent of the legislature that criminal penalties be imposed on those guilty of such abuse or neglect. 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. Prosecutions under this chapter shall be consistent with the rules of evidence, including hearsay, under law.
(16) “Practitioner of the healing arts” or “practitioner” means a person licensed by this state to practice podiatric medicine and surgery, optometry, chiropractic, nursing, dentistry, osteopathic medicine and surgery, or medicine and surgery or to provide other health services. The term “practitioner” includes a duly accredited Christian Science practitioner. A person who is being furnished Christian Science treatment by a duly accredited Christian Science practitioner will not be considered, for that reason alone, a neglected person for the purposes of this chapter.
In other words, if a parent has found that Christian Science treatment is the most effective treatment for himself and for his children – he won’t be prosecuted for using it. If it works for you, use it, right?
Apparently, there is a question as to whether Christian Scientists even lobbied for these laws, or whether some politician decided to throw the exemptions in on his own. Who knows? In any case. I apologize for any misinformation I may have inadvertently propogated.
Wonder what I’ll be apologizing for NEXT week… stay tuned… 🙂