Fundamentalist Parents Turn Down Daughter’s Life-Saving Surgery Due To Deep Religious Beliefs

By Arvin Matthew, Parent Herald April 14, 05:20 am
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Idaho threw parachuting beavers out of planes in the 1950s

A permanently disabled woman in Boise, Idaho has developed pulmonary hypertension and has to drag an oxygen tank wherever she goes just so she could breathe. Her current predicament could have been avoided had her parents allowed doctors to close a tiny hole in her heart when she was still a baby.

Family's Religious Beliefs Prevented Her Life-Saving Surgery

Mariah Walton, now 20, was born and raised in a fundamentalist Mormon community in northern Idaho. Her parents were members of an offshoot faith-healing sect called the Followers of Christ. The group migrated to Canyon County due to the region's faith-healing exemption, as per The Guardian.

Walton and her siblings were denied of any medical attention as their parents believed illnesses could be healed exclusively by faith and prayer. As a result, Walton's pulmonary ailment grew worse over time. She also became more and more frustrated by her parents' utter neglect. That's why in 2014, Walton left home without a birth certificate or a social security number.

"I would like to see my parents prosecuted," said Walton. "They deserve it. And it might stop others."

She and her older sister Emily has since taken part in talks with lawmakers about the issue. As of the moment, Idaho is one of only six states where religion is accepted as a mitigating factor in felonies such as manslaughter, negligent homicide and capital murder.

"As the oldest sister, I watched her," Emily told Magic Valley. "She was much smaller, she was blue, she wasn't growing."

Emily regrets not taking Mariah to the hospital when they were younger. When her little sister was 18, she collapsed at home and couldn't move. Their mother guaranteed that Mariah was fine and warned them not to tell anyone about the mishap. Mariah found out she had pulmonary hypertension only when she went to see a doctor by herself.

Calls To Reform Idaho Child Laws Has High-Ranking Supporter

The movement to reform Idaho's child fatality laws has been headed by governor Butch Otter. The 73-year-old statesman is currently prodding lawmakers to create a task force that would study faith healing and child fatality in the Gem State.

"I understand it is a challenge to balance the desire to protect children while still being supportive of religious freedom," Otter explained. "But, I believe we must give this issue a thorough examination."

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