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Posts published in “Day: November 28, 2017”

These children have a right to life


In counting my blessings at Thanksgiving, good health was at the top of my list.

In January I learned I had pancreatic cancer, but it is now in remission thanks to the talented doctors at the Mountain States Tumor Institute. Dr. Akshay Gupta diagnosed it, Dr. Joshua Barton skillfully removed the cancerous tissue, and Dr. Dan Zuckerman finished off the cancer with the help of the MSTI staff. We are lucky to have such highly skilled medical practitioners in our fair State.

Unfortunately, some of our most vulnerable citizens are not able to share in the blessing of good medical care.

Young children of the Followers of Christ, mostly in Canyon County, are denied necessary medical treatment because of their parents’ religious practices. Idaho law exempts faith-healing parents from two statutes prohibiting neglect or endangerment of their children. Section 18-1501 of the Idaho Code prohibits conduct that is likely to endanger the life or health of a child. Section 18-401 prohibits the denial of necessary medical care to children.

However, there is an exemption in both statutes that has allowed these parents to refuse to provide readily available medical care to their children, resulting in needless suffering and death. The exemption says that the “practice of a parent or guardian who chooses for his child treatment by prayer or spiritual means alone shall not for that reason alone be construed to have violated the duty of care of such child.” This awkward language should be eliminated from both statutes in order to protect the helpless children of faith healers.

Adults can decide for themselves on healthcare matters. If they decide to forego medical intervention for themselves for religious reasons, that is their prerogative. The State has an interest, however, in safeguarding the health and safety of minor children, who cannot decide for themselves. Our laws have numerous protections for children that do not contain religious exemptions - marital age, child labor, ability to contract, and the like. The right to have basic life-saving healthcare trumps all of those protections.

Article I, section 4 of the Idaho Constitution guarantees religious liberty for Idaho citizens. However, it mandates a strict separation of church and state, more so than the U.S. Constitution.

Among other things, it flatly states that no preference shall “be given by law to any religious denomination or mode of worship.” The statutes purporting to exempt faith-healing parents from child-protection laws certainly appear to violate this constitutional provision. The great majority of Idaho citizens who do not advocate or practice faith healing are subject to criminal penalties under Idaho Code sections 18-1501 and 18-401 for endangering the health of their children. Yet, those same statutes provide a specific legal preference for faith-healing parents by giving them the right to deprive their children of medical care.

During the last several decades, the Legislature has passed numerous statutes intended to support the right to life by using the power of the government to require women to carry a fetus to term. None of those measures contained a religious exemption. The question arises as to whether the right to life of some children in Idaho ceases upon birth.

It is time for the Legislature to stand up for our children and to require faith-healing parents to provide basic healthcare to their children. Tell legislators it is morally and legally wrong to allow parents to deprive their children of life-saving medical care.

Patterns under the surface


We went shopping for a new TV today, armed with a little online research and several brands and models that looked like they might be in range of what we wanted. (Cyber Monday was at hand, so it seemed like the thing to do.)

They were substantial brands available online - if you wanted to wait and buy without seeing them in action first personally - with a week's shipping, or so. But we wanted to buy in store, so we went to some of the stores where those models seems likely to be found - big boxes, the Wal-Marts and Fred Meyers and Targets.

Here is what we found:

A bunch of television sets for sale, none the particular make or model we were seeking. That's understandable; you can see why there might be a little less variety in the brick and mortar than in the cyber.

What was really striking was this: They were basically the same - mostly the same selection - in each of the big box department stores we visited.

Eventually, we went to a specialty store (in our case - and hey, why not a plug? - Video Only) which did have a variety of makes and models on the floor. We took a set from that store home with us.

The point here again isn't the lesser variety in the broad-based stores; what's what you usually should expect in most categories of goods. It makes sense even in a really big box.

What was a little disconcerting was the lack of difference between the stores. If didn't find it at Wal-Mart, you probably weren't going to find it at Target or Fred Meyer, or the other way around. And the prices weren't very different either.

In more casual observation, this seemed to be roughly true for a bunch of other goods, too.

Usually, in past years, stores - even sprawling chains - tend to do things, offer things, or offer terms or prices, very different from competitors, as a way of differentiating from one another. Now, they seem to be converging, becoming ever less alike. They're no longer a hamburger place and a chicken place and a taco place; they're all burger places.

Or so it seemed today on the television hunt.

If that's the ongoing case, the future doesn't seem too wonderful for a variety of retailers out there, or for meaningful competition.

It gave the feeling of subterranean patterns. An uneasy feeling.