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The Medical Ethics Principle Of Autonomy Essay

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In 34 states, the District of Columbia and Guam all have laws that exempt parents or caretakers who fail to provide medical assistance to a child based upon religious beliefs, from being prosecuted for child neglect. Of these, six states include laws exempting parents from charges of child abuse, neglect, child injury and manslaughter, when religious beliefs conflict with medical care. In Idaho, legislation was passed in the 1970s to accommodate faith-healing groups. “The religious exemption is the only place in the child protective act that places the parent’s right before the child,” Mary Jo Beig, an attorney with the Idaho Attorney General’s office. Many of the religious denominations which practice faith healing often reject all medical treatment. Freedom of religion protects the ability of individuals to choose to replace medical care with prayers and oils; however, this should not extend to rejecting medical care for children. It protects individual’s rights of religion; however, this does not allow them to harm or allow harm to come to others. The medical ethics principle of autonomy allows for competent adults to reject medical care or choose alternatives to medical care based upon religious beliefs, but this does not extend to choices made for children. The American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Bioethics recognizes the issues involving laws exempting parents from being liable for harm coming to the child, caused by medical neglect. They believe it is
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