A Christian medical group says doctors must seek to find a balance between ensuring the welfare of a child and respecting a parent's religious beliefs.
A committee of doctors said pediatricians and child abuse agencies should intervene when the religious beliefs of parents prevent children from getting the medical care they need. The American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Bioethics said states must repeal exemptions to child abuse and neglect laws, which currently do not place parents at fault if they refuse medical treatment for a child because of religious beliefs.
Dr. David Stevens is CEO of the Christian Medical and Dental Associations. He supports the recommendation to repeal the legal exemptions.
"Some parents, acting on philosophical or religious beliefs, may compromise appropriate medical care for their children,” he tells OneNewsNow. “In professional encounters with them, we should attempt to honor their values and beliefs whenever possible, but nevertheless our obligation remains to oppose parental decisions that may significantly harm children."
The committee said funding for public healthcare should not be used for religious or spiritual treatment. This means Medicaid and Medicare will no longer cover services for religious healing.
"There's a wide range of parental actions and choices which remain a matter of discretion,” Stevens adds, “and in regard to those discretionary matters, we respect parental authority and will work through parents to improve the child's welfare."
Some faiths advocate prayer prior to or instead of treatments. In another instance, Jehovah's Witnesses refuse to accept blood transfusions.