CHILD USA’s legal and social science research in the field underscores the need to carry on Rita Swan’s legacy by continuing to shine a light on the medical neglect and vaccination exemptions that harm children. If a test or screening is beneficial enough that policymakers require it for most children, all children should be afforded that benefit, regardless of the religious beliefs of their parents. As the Supreme Court eloquently stated, parents may not make martyrs of their children. Join CHILD USA’s fight to end medical neglect, vaccination exemptions, and laws for children!






Who is Watching Out for Those Children?

Who is Watching Out for Those Children?

This blog was written by Mauri Rapp, CHILD USA's Content Manager, after her Q&A with Dr. Paul Offit on the importance of child immunizations, the alarming trend of anti-vaxxers, and how education is the key to ensuring the safety and health of our children.  Dr....

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The Right’s Attack on Children

The Right’s Attack on Children

This blog was written by CHILD USA CEO and Founder Professor Marci Hamilton and published in Democracy: A Journal of Ideas on April 29, 2024. “Parental rights” are all the rage now in some quarters. But when parents gain rights, who loses them? Children. Remember the...

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Religious exemptions from child health and safety laws should be repealed so that children have equal rights to medical care.

October 9, 2020 | Rita Swan

This year saw the largest outbreak of measles in the U.S. since 1994, with 1,250 cases reported as of Oct. 3, largely driven by families choosing not to vaccinate their kids. Worldwide, the disease has resurfaced in areas that had been declared measles-free.

October 31,2019 | Emily Vaughn

Religious exemption rates appear to be associated with personal belief exemption availability, may be subject to a replacement effect on personal belief exemption elimination, and are increasing. Researchers and policy makers should confirm findings with individual-level studies and reconsider the purpose and nature of religious exemption laws.

Joshua T.B. Williams, John Rice, Matt Cox-Martin, Elizabeth A. Bayliss and Sean T. O’Leary | December 2019

There is no constitutional right to a religious exemption to childhood vaccinations. It is a permissive statutory exemption over which lawmakers have plenary power.

By Marci Hamilton | New York Daily News | May 09, 2019

An article on how the statutory guise of religious freedom is being used to undermine the First Amendment.

Marci Hamilton | May 9, 2018

An article on two reforms needed to make sure children receive the vaccinations they are entitled to and to provide them the agency to ensure their own well being.

Marci Hamilton | April 29, 2019

A statement of CHILD USA’s opposition to all religious exemptions to health and safety laws for children.  Children should not be deprived of protection on the basis of the religious beliefs of their parents.

Mathew Swinburne, JD | May 9, 2018

A chart compiled by the Network for Public Health Law revealing each state’s Lead Testing requirements and waivers for children not enrolled in Medicaid.

Network for Public Health Law | Current as of May 2018

A chart compiled by the Network for Public Health Law revealing each state’s Lead Testing requirements and waivers for children not enrolled in Medicaid.

Network for Public Health Law | Current as of May 2018

A chart summarizing the Metabolic Screening Policy of each of the 50 states and its exemptions.

Rita Swan | September 1, 2018

PLOS Medicine journal examination of nonmedical exemptions in states and counties, examining the growing anti-vaccination movement in urban areas and the corresponding consequences.

Jacqueline K. Olive, et al. | June 12, 2018


The Cognitive Dissonance of Religous Liberty Discourse: Statutory Rights Masquerading as Constitutional Mandates

Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy Vol. 14 No. 1, 79-94 • Marci A. Hamilton

There is a cognitive dissonance in current religious liberty discourse. On the one hand, there are vulnerable groups emerging as strong rights holders in the culture, including LGBTQ, women, and children. On the other hand, there are the religious believers who cannot or will not fit this new social order into their worldview and, therefore, assert rights against it.

Charges dropped in first federal genital mutilation case in US

CNN   •  Laura Ly
NOVEMBER 20, 2018
A Detroit judge has dropped nearly all the charges against a TTUN doctor accused of performing female genital mutilation on at least nine underage girls, according to court documents.

In a decision filed Tuesday, Judge Bernard Friedman ruled that the federal female genital mutilation law is unconstitutional and that Congress did not have the right to criminalize the practice, and therefore he dismissed six of eight charges in the United States’ first federal case involving the procedure.

Faith Healing, Christian Science, and the Medical Care of Children

New England Journal of Medicine   •   Rita Swan, Ph.D.
NOVEMBER 25, 2016
Christian Science was developed in the late 19th century as one of many drugless healing methods. Its founder, Mary Baker Eddy, repeatedly called it a system of medicine. She founded her Massachusetts Metaphysical College “for medical purposes,” and graduated “doctors of Christian Science . . . .”

Child Abuse Under the Guise of Religion

NYTimes. com   •   Rita Swan
NOVEMBER 25, 2016
Every kind of child abuse has been rationalized by someone as a religious practice: beatings, dangerous diets, forced marriages, slavery, exorcism, sexual exploitation, genital mutilation, conversion therapy for L.G.B.T. youth and medical neglect.

Matthew, you cannot be sick

The Dublin Review   •   Rita Swan
NOVEMBER 25, 2016
Doug and Rita Swan, were both raised in the Church of Christ, Scientist, and met through a Christian Science study group at Kansas State Teachers College in 1960. They were very active in the church until 1977, when the events described in the following account took place . . .

The Plight of Children at Risk in the UltraOrthodox Jewish Communities and the Failure of Government and Pandering Politicians to Protect Them

Verdict   •   Marci A. Hamilton
SEPTEMBER 17, 2015
Children in the U.S. are routinely sacrificed on the pyre of their parents’ faith by pandering politicians without a moral compass. Children don’t vote but insular religious communities often vote as a bloc mandated by the male officials at the top, and that fact is not lost on power-hungry . . .

Bad Faith: When Religious Belief Undermines Modern Medicine

Paul A. Offit, M.D.
March 10, 2015
In recent years, there have been major outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases among children in the country. Although America is the most medically advanced place in the world, many people disregard modern medicine in favor of using their faith to fight life-threatening illnesses.

The Vaccine for Pollyanna Attitudes Toward Public Health and Religious Beliefs

Verdict   •   Marci A. Hamilton
FEBRUARY 12, 2015
For decades the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC have strongly recommended that infants and children be immunized for a range of dangerous childhood diseases. In light of the current outbreaks of measles and now mumps, we obviously need to be educated…

Deliverance, demonic possession, and mental illness: some considerations for mental health professionals

Mental Health, Religion, & Culture, Vol. 16 No. 6, 595-611 •   Jean Mercer

This paper outlines an unconventional treatment for mental illness, the exorcism or deliverance ritual used by Pentecostals and some other charismatic Christians.  Deliverance beliefs and practices are based on the assumption that both mental and physical ills result from possession of the sufferer by demons, and are to be treated by the expulsion of those demons. Deliverance practitioners claim to treat schizophrenia, ADHD, and Reactive Attachment Disorder, and believe that these problems are related to sins either of the person in treatment or of an ancestor.  Clinicians and counsellors dealing with clients who partially or completely espouse deliverance beliefs may need to understand their worldviews and to discuss their belief system before managing to engage them in conventional mental health treatments. Unusual ethical problems may also be met in the course of such work.

Idaho’s ‘Faith’ Healing Dilemma: Kids are dying because of faith healing exemptions in Idaho law, so why do lawmakers refuse to do anything about it?

Boise Weekly  •   Cameron Rasmusson
March 16, 2016

Matthew was sick again, and his mother, Rita Swan, was worried.  The 16-month-old had come down with a dangerous fever three times and, three times, Swan had called her family’s Christian Science practitioner as mandated by their religion. Three times, Matthew had recovered from his illness. This, the fourth incident, was worse than any of the others.  For the Swans, then a devout Christian Science family living in Detroit, Mich., in 1977, it was enough to consider breaking with church doctrine and taking Matthew to a hospital.  The Swans’ practitioner was not pleased when she heard the news.  “It will be a long, hard road back to Christian Science for you if you do this,” she said.  Swan hesitated. Matthew had, after all, recovered three times already. The teachings of Christian Science, which claim that disease is an illusion best treated by prayer, appeared to be working. Meanwhile, Matthew was only getting worse.

Dr. Paul Offit: “A Choice Not To Get a Vaccine Is Not a Risk-Free Choice”

PBS Frontline •   Priyanka Boghani
March 23, 2015

Paul Offit is the co-developer of a vaccine for rotavirus — the leading cause of severe diarrhea in children — and the chief of the division of infectious diseases at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. His books include Vaccines: What You Should Know and Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure. This is the edited transcript of interviews conducted on Dec. 30, 2009 and March 2, 2010. It was originally published on April 27, 2010.

Washington bills: Christian Science no longer an excuse for denying medical care

Science Based Medicine  •   Jann Bellamy
February 5, 2015

All states try to protect children from neglect, abandonment and mistreatment, such as deprivation of clothing, shelter, food and medical care. This includes civil laws which permit the removal of a child from the home and other protective interventions. Criminal laws protect children as well by, for example, making nonsupport a misdemeanor or criminal neglect a felony.  Washington State law prohibits criminal mistreatment of children and other vulnerable persons, such as the frail elderly, by their caregivers.