Mariah Walton lawsuit: An Idaho woman left permanently disabled after her parents chose prayer over medical treatment campaigns for a change in Idaho laws.
Mariah Walton a 21 year old old Idaho woman is seeking to sue her parents after having been left permanently disabled after they rejected medical treatment, instead praying for her recovery.
Born with a small hole in her heart, known as congenital heart defect, the ailment could have been repaired if treated earlier but now Walton has been forced to await a heart and lung transplant if she is to have any chance of life.
The situation which has led Walton in and out of hospitals has inspired the 21 year old campaigning for a change in the law so parents who choose to follow ‘faith healing’ can be prosecuted.
Told Walton va KTVB: ‘My lungs burn because I can’t get the oxygen I need. They used to pray over me. The’d say: “God’s going to heal you, just have faith” and all kinds of stuff… I think it’s time to prosecute them.’
The 21-year-old, who has nine siblings, was raised in the Mormon church. She was diagnosed with congenital heart disease aged 18.
Her mother would often use natural remedies such as herbs and essential oils as well as prayer in attempt to heal her.
Her sister Emily said that their parents would tell them ‘we needed to pray for Mariah, that she wasn’t growing or doing well, and the evil spirits would leave her’.
Present laws in Idaho preclude parents from being prosecuted for neglect if they refuse medical care before their faith as freedom of religion is a right under the First Amendment to the US Constitution.
But the campaign group Children’s Right to Live reportedly said campaigns to change the law are still ongoing.
A spokesperson for the group told The Independent lawmakers had ‘considered two bills on the topic’. One aimed to ‘rearrange the left language in the laws to create the appearance of making reforms without actually changing anything substantive’.
‘Another would have made things worse by expanding the loophole to cover parents who neglect their children in the name of ideological as well as religious beliefs and practices.’
That said, the move faces resistance from Idaho lawmakers, who fear the proposal, violates parental rights.
‘You know, it’s a First Amendment right, the freedom of religion,’ said Idaho state Sen. Lee Heider.
The bill to amend Idaho’s faith healing laws was initially introduced earlier in the year, but was killed almost immediately by key Republican lawmakers who disapprove to legislation modifying the current exemptions. Democratic lawmakers have been trying to change the law since at least 2014.
To date, the proposal has yet to be scheduled for a hearing.
Of note, the mortality rate for families in the state Christian sect which preach faith before medicine is around 10 times higher than the state’s rate. Statistics which are unlikely to change anytime soon.