Permanently disabled because she was denied medical care as a child, Mariah Walton wants her faith healing parents prosecuted.
Walton, 20, is usually bedridden, and when she’s not, she has to carry around an oxygen tank. She has had screws in her bones to hold her breathing device in place, and she has no options for recovery besides a risky heart and lung transplant.
Yet all of this could have been prevented if Walton’s faith healing parents had simply taken her to a doctor when she was a child.
Walton has a condition called pulmonary hypertension. Her situation could have been prevented if doctors had closed the small congenital hole in her heart in her infancy or childhood.
However, Walton’s parents were fundamentalist Mormons who went off the grid in northern Idaho in the 1990s and refused to take their children to doctors, believing that illnesses could be healed through faith and the power of prayer.
The prayers failed; and Walton is now left in dire circumstances because of the outrageous behavior of her parents.
As a child Walton grew sicker and sicker. Her parents would pray over her, and rub rancid olive oil over her body, but refused to seek medical attention for their sick daughter. Finally, in her late teens, Walton managed to see a doctor about her poor health. But it was too late, the damage to her heart and lungs had been done, and it was permanent.
Mariah says she is angry about the way she was treated as a child:
I feel it is not OK for people to be allowed to ignore modern science that saves lives. I had no vote and no power over my parents, and they were legally allowed to let me get to this point.
Walton told The Guardian:
I would like to see my parents prosecuted. They deserve it. And it might stop others.
While Walton’s parents should be prosecuted, that is not likely to happen. Currently in Idaho there is a religious shield law that protects parents who claim to be acting out of religious faith, so when a child is injured or dies in Idaho due to lack of medical care, faith healing parents are not held accountable.
A bill that would have protected children from faith healing parents was killed by Republican lawmakers in the state last month.