As a society, care for our children should be one of our highest priorities. Unfortunately, here in Washington, that is not always the case. Every parent wants to do what is best for their children, but not all parents let scientific facts guide their decisions. Tragically, too many parents allow faith-based medical modalities—whether they are religious or ideologically motivated—direct their decisions. The results are always heartbreaking. Innocent children, who otherwise could have avoided deleterious circumstances, end up sick or dead. There are two important bills in the state Legislature that everyone who is concerned with public health, child welfare, and science-based medicine should support. The first is Senate Bill 5408, which would repeal provisions in state laws that protect parents who deny medical care to their children because of their belief in Christian Science faith healing. All people should be free to practice their faith, but that freedom does not grant parents a right to neglect and abuse their children under the guise of religion. The second is House Bill 2009. The low vaccination rate in certain Washington school districts is appalling. The overwhelming majority of these exemptions are granted for “personal” reasons. House Bill 2009 would eliminate “personal” exemption from the state mandatory vaccination laws. The passage of these bills would be an important step in ensuring that Washington State is a safe place for children. The state can and should value the health of young people over the beliefs of parents.
Marco Rosaire Rossi