Christian Scientists and Children's Medical Care Lawyers

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Can Christian Scientists Rely on Spiritual Healing for their Children?

Christian Scientists and several other religious groups rely on prayer instead of medicine to treat illnesses.  The First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion, so anybody able to give their own consent may refuse medical treatment.  

When parents make this decision for children, however, it raises questions about whether this is protected under the constitution.  Normally, refusing medical care for a child would be neglect under child abuse laws, but most states create exemptions on religious grounds.  At the same time, in most of these states a physician must be consulted if the condition is life threatening.  Also, several states have begun to repeal these laws entirely.

What Happens if a Child Dies Without Medical Care?

Parents may be found criminally liable for manslaughter or criminal homicide if their child dies of a medically treatable condition.  Most states have determined that religious exemptions for child abuse laws do not apply in these cases.

Where parents are divorced and disagree on religion, the Christian Scientist parent may be civily liable to the other for failing to give medical care.

Does the Christian Scientist Church Have Any Liability?

Most courts have refused to find the church either criminally or civily liable for any misconduct since the church has a constitutional right to follow and teach their religious beliefs, and does not owe a duty to give medical care.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

The law regarding children's medical care and religion is a complex and everchanging one.  If you are concerned about your duties as a parent or are charged with failing to provide medical care, you should consult a criminal defense lawyer immediately. 

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Last Modified: 09-07-2012 04:20 PM PDT

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