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Today Show Chronicles Idaho Girl's Fight for Life and Against Idaho's 'Faith Healing' Religious Exemption

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KELSEY HAWES
  • Kelsey Hawes


The attempt to override Idaho's legal protections for so-called "faith healing" made its way to a national television audience Tuesday when NBC's The Today Show visited the Idaho home of Mariah Walton, who said she now wants her parents prosecuted for blocking adequate medical care and leaving her fighting for a heart/lung transplant.

"Whenever I'm at school, I'm out of breath," Walton told NBC. "And it's, like, my lungs burn because I can't get the oxygen I need."

For her part, Walton's mother admitted she pursued "natural medicine" for Mariah, but also claimed she "didn't realize how sick Mariah was."

Repeated attempts have failed at the Idaho Legislature to get lawmakers to consider a measure that would require traditional medical attention if a child's life is at serious risk, disallowing religious-based exemptions.

Mariah Walton made her way to the Idaho Statehouse in February to urge a Senate panel to move the proposal, sponsored by Rep. John Gannon (D-Boise), forward but the measure never gained traction with Republican leadership.

"It's a First Amendment right, the freedom of religion," Sen. Lee Heider (R-Twin Falls) told NBC.

Now, Walton's story and the faith-healing debate has been moved into the global spotlight, with media from around the world chronicling her dilemma.

"I think it's time to prosecute them," she told the Today Show.