Colorado House Votes to Intervene in Faith-Healing Cases

By Richardson, Valerie | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), February 24, 2001 | Go to article overview

Colorado House Votes to Intervene in Faith-Healing Cases


Richardson, Valerie, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


DENVER - The Colorado House approved legislation yesterday that would toughen restrictions on faith healing after a statewide outcry over the death of a 13-year-old diabetic girl whose parents opted to heal her with prayer instead of medicine.

The House voted 36-26 in favor of repealing an exemption to the state's child-abuse law that allows parents to withhold medical treatment for religious reasons. The Senate is also expected to approve the bill, and Gov. Bill Owens has indicated he will sign the measure.

The proposal's passage came over the objections of Christian Scientists, who had argued that repealing the exemption would make them fearful to practice their religion. Christian Scientists subscribe to the use of spiritual healing as an alternative to medical care.

But the Feb. 6 death of 13-year-old Amanda Bates of complications from diabetes led to calls for striking the law and prosecuting parents for withholding medical care.

The Mesa County coroner said Amanda died a "slow and agonizing" death after her parents refused to take her to a doctor.

The coroner ruled her death a homicide, and Mesa County District Attorney Frank Daniels is considering whether to bring charges against her parents, Randy and Colleen Bates, who belong to the General Assembly Church of the First Born.

Since 1974, 11 of the western Colorado church's children have died or been stillborn, including three in the past three years.

Opponents of the bill argued that the current law allows the prosecution of parents whose children suffer harm from lack of medical treatment. In at least one case, Mesa County prosecutors successfully convicted parents for withholding care.

"This is bad government. This is big government," said state Rep. Bill Cadman, Colorado Springs Republican, during floor debate Thursday. …

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