Group Starts Petition To Remove Ohio’s Religious Exemption For Child Abuse

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image of Bible and stethoscopeDid you know that many states, including Ohio, have religious exemptions for child abuse written into law? Short of killing the child, parents and people having custody of children can harm the health or safety of the child, by violating a duty of care, protection, or support – like refusing to get proper childhood vaccines or in the extreme, refusal of medical treatment for the child – as long as the abuse is due to the person’s religion. There is a new group collecting signatures on an online petition to get that exemption removed.

Here is one of the religious exemptions:

2919.22 Endangering children.

(A) No person, who is the parent, guardian, custodian, person having custody or control, or person in loco parentis of a child under eighteen years of age or a mentally or physically handicapped child under twenty-one years of age, shall create a substantial risk to the health or safety of the child, by violating a duty of care, protection, or support. It is not a violation of a duty of care, protection, or support under this division when the parent, guardian, custodian, or person having custody or control of a child treats the physical or mental illness or defect of the child by spiritual means through prayer alone, in accordance with the tenets of a recognized religious body.

The exemption has been on the books since at least the 1980s through heavy lobbying by the Christian Science Church, the religion that believes only in faith healing. Members of the church and other religious extremists have been in the news because of their refusal to allow medical treatment for their children.

I wrote about this terrible example of religious privilege back in February.

Such abuse shouldn’t be punished only if the child dies.

The group Ohioans Against Legalized Child Abuse now have an online petition that will demand that the exemption (noted in bold above) be removed:

We ask Governor John Kasich, the Ohio House of Representatives, and the Ohio Senate to stand up for these abused and neglected children by changing 2919.22 (A) of the Ohio Revised Code to remove the language “It is not a violation of a duty of care, protection, or support under this division when the parent, guardian, custodian, or person having custody or control of a child treats the physical or mental illness or defect of the child by spiritual means through prayer alone, in accordance with the tenets of a recognized religious body.”

Change 2919.22 (A) of the Ohio Revised Code to remove the religious exemption for child abuse and neglect.

Signing the petition is a good idea as is to talk to your particular state representative or senator about it.

The group also has a Facebook page you can visit:

Ohioans Against Legalized Child Abuse


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