THEIST_WATCH Msg : 100 Written : 09/23/94 03:03pm From : ROBIN MURRAY-O'HAIR Status : RcA

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THEIST_WATCH Msg : 100 Written : 09/23/94 03:03pm From : ROBIN MURRAY-O'HAIR Status : RcA To : ALL Subj : Christian Science & Congress Christian Science lobbying money is hard at work -- hurting children's chances to receive adequate medical care despite their parent's religious beliefs. At issue is a Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) policy. Forty-six states now permit parents to withhold medical care for their children for religious reasons. The only exceptions are the states of Hawaii, Maryland, Massachussets, and South Dakota. The HSS also allows the exemption, but requires states to provide medical treatment for ailing children. (That is, the religious parents are not required to provide it, but the state is.) Currently HHS considers that Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, and the District of Columbia lack needed procedures for providing emergency care to such children. To penalize such states, it would cut off federal child abuse aid to the states if they fail to comply with HHS rules in this matter. Objecting to this policy, the Christian Science church began a lobbying action to have a provision countering the HHS policy included in the appropriations bill which funds the federal department. The annual appropriates for the HHS is $250 billion. Christian Science lobbyists and representatives directly approached appropriations committee members on the topic. And they found one who was sympathetic: Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), a Christian Scientist himself. Feeling that the policy was "constricting the ability of thousands of individuals to practice their religion in good faith and good conscience," he "offered to open some doors." One door he opened was that of Rep. John Edward Port (R-Illinois), who was reared as a Christian Scientists and is the senior Republican on the Appropriations Committee's subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education. Rep. Porter wrote a provision barring HHS from requiring states to drop their religious exemptions or order medical care for children. He then got Rep. Neal Smith (D-Iowa), who chairs that appropriations subcommittee, to put that provision in the HHS appropriations bill. The bill -- with the provision-- was subsequently approved by the full Appropriations Committee. It then went to a subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee. There Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) proposed a different provision which would prevent HHS from denying child abuse aid to states for another year but would allow it to retain its authority to otherwise "persuade" states to drop their religious exemptions. The Senate approved Harkin's language in August. The bill then went to a House-Senate committee to work out discrepancies between the two bills and the Senate language was accepted. *********************************************************************** * * * American Atheists website: http://www.atheists.org * * PO Box 140195 FTP: ftp://ftp.atheists.org * * Austin, TX 78714-0195 * * Voice: (512) 458-1244 Dial-THE-ATHEIST: * * FAX: (512) 467-9525 (512) 458-5731 * * * * Atheist Viewpoint TV: avtv@atheists.org * * Info on American Atheists: info@atheists.org, * * & American Atheist Press include your name and mailing address * * AANEWS -Free subscription: aanews-request@listserv.atheists.org * * 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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