September 30, 1994 M. Joycelyn Elders, Surgeon General Hubert H. Humphrey Bldg., Rm. 736E

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September 30, 1994 M. Joycelyn Elders, Surgeon General Hubert H. Humphrey Bldg., Rm. 736E 200 Independence Ave SW Washington, D.C. 20201 in re: H.R. 4606, Appropriations Bill for Department of Labor, Health & Human Services, Education & Related Agencies for Fiscal Year 1995. Dr. Elders: The U. S. Senate and House passed H.R. 4606 on September 20, 1994, and it was sent to President Clinton for his signature yesterday, September 29. Included in this was a special religious exemption for the First Church of Christ Scientist (the Christian Scientists) so that the various states may continue to permit parents to withhold medical care from their children for religious reasons, often substituting prayer. Diagnosed as a diabetic in 1977, I would have been dead by now were it not for my daily insulin regime. In those last twenty years our offices have received scores of reports of minor diabetic children dying because insulin therapy was refused for them by their parents. There have been many media reports on these minor children, some being as young as eight or ten years of age, who had no right to determine that they should live or die. The decisions were made by parents after consulting Christ- ian Scientist practitioners. In most instances, the parents -- who actually committed a murder by substituting prayer for insulin -- have been charged, at most, with lesser crimes. Although I am particularly sensitive to children with diabetes, there are many other diseases which are unnecessarily claiming children for death because of the religiously misguided. These are childhood illnesses which, if they are diagnosed and treated early, would not develop complications which lead to life threatening situations. For example, this summer an epidemic of measles, in a religious school in the midwest, spread to persons in the community who were not of the religious faith of those who refused immunization and/or inoculation of their children. In this instance, the decisions of the religious parents spread measles well beyond their own families. The government, at any level, must have the legal right to intervene when the lives of children are at risk. Can you make a special appeal to President Clinton regarding the provision in the bill which was introduced by the Christian Scientist lobbyist, Phil Davis, through Rep. Lamar Smith (R- Texas) who is himself a Christian Scientist? Rep. Smith was able to get Mr. Davis to Rep. John Edward Porter (R-Illinois), who, reared as a Christian Scientist, is now the senior Republican on a subcommittee which handled this bill for the Appropriations Committee. The next person in the chain was Rep. Neal Smith (D- Iowa) who chairs the Appropriations Committee itself. Porter wrote the proposed provision to assist the Christian Scientists and Smith agreed to put the Porter provision into the bill. The provision would bar Human Health Services from requiring states to either drop their religious exemptions for healing through prayer or order medical care for children. In a Senate subcommittee, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) herded the measure through and the U. S. Senate approved Sen. Harkin's language. This is especially tragic since defenseless children are involved. You have a reputation for speaking up. American Atheists, Inc. feels that prayer is an entirely useless substitution for medication which has been proven to be appropriate - as in the case of insulin and diabetes. Please help the children? AMERICAN ATHEISTS, INC. Madalyn O'Hair Founder MEMO'H:eis *********************************************************************** * * * American Atheists website: * * PO Box 140195 FTP: * * Austin, TX 78714-0195 * * Voice: (512) 458-1244 Dial-THE-ATHEIST: * * FAX: (512) 467-9525 (512) 458-5731 * * * * Atheist Viewpoint TV: * * Info on American Atheists:, * * & American Atheist Press include your name and mailing address * * AANEWS -Free subscription: * * and put "info aanews" in message body * * * * This text may be freely downloaded, reprinted, and/other * * otherwise redistributed, provided appropriate point of * * origin credit is given to American Atheists. * * * ***********************************************************************


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