Wis. Legislators Consider End to Religious Exception

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- State lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow prosecutors to charge parents who refuse medical help for their children on religious grounds with child abuse.

Under current Wisconsin law, parents can't be found guilty of child abuse if they choose spiritual treatment rather than medicine or surgery.

The measure stems from the case of Dale and Leilani Neumann, a Weston couple who prayed while their 11-year-old daughter died of undiagnosed diabetes in their home.

The bill's author, Rep. Terese Berceau, a Madison Democrat, tells the Assembly Children and Families Committee children shouldn't have to die for their parents' beliefs. Joe Farkas, legislative liaison for Christian Science churches in Wisconsin, counters the bill is vague and raises questions about whether parents can teach their children religious values.

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