Repeal Faith Exemption

By Jeremy Fejfar, October 2, 2009

Currently, there is an effort to repeal Wisconsin’s “Faith Exemption,” which allows parents to avoid criminal charges of child abuse if they pray for their sick child to get better instead of seeking real medical treatment. In 2008, 11-year-old Madeline Kara Neumann died from untreated diabetes because her parents chose to pray rather than seek medical attention for her. Doctors say her life could have been saved by a simple injection of insulin nearly up until the end of her life. Rep. Teresa Berceau has drafted an act (LRB 2190) that would repeal the religious exemption that shields parents who would medically abuse/neglect their children. A strong message needs to be sent to parents and caregivers in this state that if you neglect to provide a child with necessary and effective medical treatments and instead choose to provide them with ineffective and unproven means of “spiritual healing” or prayer, you will be prosecuted for child abuse. Withholding medical treatments that are proven to save or prolong a child’s life is fundamentally no different than withholding from them food or water.
Please take a moment to contact Sen. Fred Risser, president of the Wisconsin Senate (sen.risser@legis.wisconsin.govor [608] 266-1627). Also contact your representatives in the Wisconsin Legislature in both the Senate and the Assembly (

Ask them to support LRB 2190, to introduce a companion act in the Senate and to reject the Christian Science lobby-approved proposal promoted by Sen. Lena Taylor (LRB 1147). It is being touted as a “repeal,” but it would create an unprecedented law requiring courts to determine whether a parent’s prayers were “reasonable,” would privilege spiritual healers and is calculated to avoid further prosecutions.

As Dr. Norman C. Fost, from the American Academy of Pediatrics, said, “We’re interested not just in kids who die. What we’re concerned about are the hundreds and hundreds more who suffer from inadequate medical treatment.”

Please take a stand with Berceau and protect innocent children from those who would medically neglect them.

This letter was also signed by Eric Barnes, David Brandt, Chris Bucheit, Valerie Cummisford, Mike Dishnow, Betty Hammond, Wendy Johnson, Sue Mercier, Helen Neubauer, Thomas Neubauer, Edwin Neumann, Michael Soll, Tony Trentin, Chris Trentin, Eric Walberg and Hank Zumach on behalf of the La Crosse Area Freethought Society (

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