There’s a lot of double-standards on the religious right. The biggest double-standard is their claim that they’re “pro-life,” and nowhere is that more clear than the laws that allow parents to escape negligent homicide if they kill their child for religious reasons, instead of getting them medical care to survive.
Currently, Idaho is one of six states — which is six too many — where you can pull this stunt, and the state government is currently working on a revision that might, finally, close this legal gap.
Of course, since the government is dominated by conservatives, I wouldn’t be encouraging people to hold their breath.
“Children are not property”
The United States has a long track record of abuse when it comes to certain populations. Most of these populations have interest groups or caucuses who can vote or speak for them — or attempt to, anyway. A scarce few don’t, and the largest population without a voice in government are children.
Nobody in the government speaks for children. We assume that parents do. We assume that there’s some “mystical bond” between a parent and a child, that there’s some sort of “innate talent” that all parents have. And because of that, we have laws that excuse parents who “pray” over their sick child rather than rushing them to the hospital to keep them alive. Laws that pat these murderers on the head and say,”it’s okay, you were only following your faith.”
Idaho is one of those states. In Idaho, if your faith keeps you from taking your child to the doctor and they die, you can’t be punished. This isn’t some abstract hypothetical — six children have already died because of their parent’s religious beliefs. And it might be more, because the state doesn’t compile figures.
Fortunately, that looks like it might change. This week, the state convened a legislative committee to hopefully review the law.
Ada County Prosecutor Jean Fisher urged the lawmakers to remove the state’s exemption, noting that it was wrong for “the rights of the parent” to “supersede the rights of the child.” Fisher has been unable to bring possible child abuse or neglect cases to court as a result of the law, and told the Tri-City Herald:
I think we should be looking at the rights of children, because children are not chattel anymore. Children are not property. I think we need to respect that.
Can you guess what argument people who support this law are making? I bet you can.
Proponents of the law claim it protects the religious freedom of parents. So for those keeping track at home, in addition to justifying discrimination against minorities, religious freedom also gives you carte blanche to kill children. I’m sure the Islamists who love honor killings support this wholeheartedly.
How much do you want to bet that these people would be first in line screaming that abortion is murder, too? Because I’d be willing to bet a lot.
So what are the odds that the law changes? Well, like I said, don’t hold your breath:
The interim committee will continue to meet over the summer, but it’s unclear if they will submit a recommendation before the 2017 legislative session.
Conservatives dominate the State House, Senate, and Governorship, and they’re probably not very interested in upsetting their religious base. Which, in the end, isn’t surprising: we all knew the religious right had no problem with human sacrifices on the altar of Jesus — child or otherwise. I just wish they weren’t so damn eager to reinforce that knowledge at every possible turn.
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