Numerous children belonging to certain religious sects and cults have died because of direct medical neglect. Yet, with respect to medical treatment for children, there are stringent restrictions to what parents may decide on the basis of their religious belief and religious freedom. However, parents should not inflict impairment on their child by withholding indispensable medical treatments that could protect the health and life of their children.
Americans are at liberty to believe in anything that they desire; however, they are forbidden to do anything they desire in the name of religion if it shall cause harm to others.
Jehovah’s Witnesses’ members have strong oppositions against the exploitation of blood and blood products in to their body. And even with the possibility of death as a consequence, they are continually refusing blood transfusions. Parents of children who have died as a result of this type of medical neglect have obviously made an exceptionally shocking decision, and as such, were criminally charged and convicted.
Legality of the Religious Belief
The First Amendment embraces two clauses on the Freedom of Religion. The first part is acknowledged as the Establishment Clause, while the second as the Free Exercise Clause. Religious freedom is an unconditional privilege, and consists of the right to observe any religion of one’s preference or not to observe any religion at all (Illinois First Amendment Center, 2009). At present, the civil codes of 39 States incorporate religious exemptions from neglect charges or child abuse, and at the same time 31 States authorize religious justification in criminal charges.
The Court has repeatedly held sessions to evaluate the assertions of free exercise of religion, which states that the State may enforce a substantial burden on religion if a compelling State interest is established and the law is narrowly adapted to realize such interest (Answers.com, 2009). However, in recent years the Court has decreed that such strict analysis of State interest does not apply to generally applicable laws that are constitutional.
Parents are Making the Wrong Decision
For the members of Jehovah’s Witness, their foremost belief is that the act of receiving blood is forbidden by the bible, as it prevents a person from obtaining resurrection and eternal life after death (Tower Watch Ministries, 2007). Consequently, a study of 172 child deaths revealed that 140 children would have had at least a 90 percent possibility of survival if medical care was not withheld from them (Robinson, 2007). Moreover, 18 more children could have had 50 percent survival rate probabilities, and of the remainder, every one except three was likely to have some professional medical assistance (Robinson, 2007).
According to the landmark case of Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Dept. of Health, 497 U.S. 261 (1990), for religious and for any other reason, adults are allowed to decline his or her medical treatment, even if the treatment is indispensable in saving their lives (Find Law, 2009). This circumstance is, however, absolutely different when the endangered lives are of the children. Unfortunately, numerous children have already died given that their parents refused appropriate medical treatments. The healing processes of this religious group are well-intentioned and absurd, as the members rely exclusively on God through scripture readings, fasting, and prayer.
Every individual becomes undoubtedly very happy when they become parents, and ultimately asserts to look out for the best interest of their children, which include not refusing medical treatment on irrational grounds. Future parents must understand that the choice to have children come with an indispensable set of responsibilities. They must guarantee as rationally as possible, that their children will be provided with all the necessary assistance that health technologies can offer so that they may live a full, healthy, and unrestricted lives. Obviously, freedom of religion does not embrace the liberty to kill. However, because of certain religious grounds, numerous children have died and are still expected to die. Laws criminalizing homicide as a result of neglect are significant and applicable to the entire population. These are not laws that relates to religious establishment. As such, in a case where parents make a decision to withhold medical care from a child because of religious preference, as excruciating as the condemnation of the child’s loss might be, the parents must necessarily accept legal accountability for the aforesaid death.
In the United States, it is unlawful to breach upon the freedom of religion in general. Nevertheless, if there is a compelling State objective for specific regulation and the measure taken by the State is the least restrictive possible method, the State may control the right to religious beliefs. When parents refuse the necessary medical treatment to save the lives of their minor children, courts are allowed to endorse necessary treatment after weighing the child’s paramount interest, in addition to the interests of the parents and the State. Many States have already concurred with the religious belief’s absurdity and injustice through their child welfare laws that punish the failure of the parents to seek necessary medical care for their children.
Parents have basically no right to place their children at risk by turning down the latter’s medical treatments. It is an outrage how numerous children pointlessly die because of medical neglect as a direct consequence of a certain extreme religion’s teachings. Aesthetic or scriptural excuses that hold back life saving interventions are negligent, capricious, and unlawful. One cannot infringe the law and condemn that their religious freedoms have been breached. Without a doubt, any justifications giving Jehovah’s Witness the right to deny lifesaving medical measures to their children are not only considered unconstitutional but also preposterous.
Answers.com. (2009). First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Retrieved February 19, 2009, from http://www.answers.com/topic/first-amendment-to-the-united-states-constitution
Find Law. (2009). Cruzan v. Director, MDH, 497 U.S. 261 (1990). Retrieved February 22, 2009, from http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=497&invol=261
Illinois First Amendment Center. (2009, February 6). The Freedom of Religion. Retrieved February 19, 2009, from http://www.illinoisfirstamendmentcenter.com/religion.php
Robinson, B.A. (2007, February 9). Faith Healing. Religious Tolerance. Retrieved February 22, 2009, from http://www.religioustolerance.org/medical3.htm
Tower Watch Ministries. (2007, July). Highlights of the Beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Retrieved February 22, 2009, from http://www.towerwatch.com/Witnesses/Beliefs/their_beliefs.htm
Cite this Religious Belief
Religious Belief. (2016, Nov 21). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/religious-belief/