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date: 23 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The laws that protect children apply to everyone, religious and nonreligious. Too often, however, parents claim exemptions from child-protecting laws in the name of religious freedom beyond that which is required by the First Amendment. They refuse to vaccinate or to secure medical care for injury or illness, or they harm, abuse, or even kill their children, claiming they are doing so for protected religious reasons. This chapter argues that all children need full protection of the laws prohibiting abuse and neglect, and all parents must obey them. Children are no longer property; they are persons, and the laws that affect them should prevent harm, not cause it. Children’s health, safety, and well-being are rights that should be protected even against parents who harm them.

Keywords: children, First Amendment, religious freedom, exemptions, vaccinations, children’s health, free exercise of religion, medical neglect, child abuse, parents’ rights

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