“Christian Science’s faith healing practice in the United States and Canada: an overview from a historical and legal perspective”
Issaoui, Nawal. “Christian Science’s faith healing practice in the United States and Canada: an overview from a historical and legal perspective.” Acta Comparanda Subsidia II (2015): 29–42.
Issaoui questions the limits of the legal accommodations that allow Christian Science practitioners and/or parents to rely on spiritual means in treating Christian Scientists. Their ambiguity leaves unanswered questions. She begins her investigation with several late 19th-century cases brought by the American Medical Association. The first case claimed Christian Science practitioners were practicing medicine because they were being paid for services rendered and it was therefore illegal because they did not have a license; the second case deduced that Christian Science practitioners were not practicing medicine because their practice did not involve drugs. Seeing a need, the Christian Science Church then began a successful decades-long lobbying of state legislatures to get accommodations in the law that would recognize spiritual healing as an alternative to conventional medical treatments. However, some highly publicized court ‘child-death cases’ in the 1980s and 1990s, where parents were prosecuted, exposed the limits to these exemptions. Issaoui elaborates on one specific trial and its legal arguments, as well as the impact of that trial on the Christian Science Church and as a precedent for the courts. Always the issue is finding a balance between the religious right to practice Christian Science healing and the State’s responsibility to prevent child endangerment.