DENVER - The painful death of a 13-year-old diabetic girl in Colorado has reignited the debate over where to draw the line between religious freedom and child neglect.
The state legislature is considering a bill that would repeal the religious exemption to the state's child-abuse law, making it easier to prosecute parents who deliberately withhold medical treatment in favor of prayer or faith healing.
The measure comes in the wake of a statewide uproar surrounding the Feb. 6 death of Amanda Bates, who died of complications from juvenile diabetes. Her parents, Randy and Colleen Bates, who belong to the General Assembly Church of the First Born in Grand Junction, Colo., refused to seek a doctor's care for Amanda, citing their belief in the power of prayer to heal her.
The bill's sponsor, state Rep. Kay Alexander, argues that the repeal is needed to "protect Colorado's children" from the current law, which says no child who receives prayer as a "recognized method of religious healing" is considered neglected.
"[The bill] does not disregard the right to pray for healing or religious freedom," …