To The Editor: In 2010, the Oregon House rejected HR100, proposing a constitutional amendment that access to health care is a fundamental right.In 2011, the legislature passed, HB2721, which eliminates reliance on spiritual treatment as defense to certain crimes in which victim is under 18 years of age.As a result ofHB2721, in 2012, Brandi and Russel Bellew were prosecuted for the tragic ( I say "tragic" because it was apparently preventable) death of their 16-year-old son, Austin Sprout.After an expensive seven month prosecution, the Bellews pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide and were sentenced to probation.
Unsaid, in this scenario, is the fact that some 500 Oregonians die each year from lack of access to health care. It is a strange irony in our, supposedly, morally/ethically based legal system, that the same legislators who believed they had a moral obligation to designate a lack of access to care, based on religious beliefs, to be criminal, apparently believe that a lack of access to care for those who have no religious conflict is perfectly acceptable.
I fully agree that the bellows should have made available to their son the medical care that might have saved his life.However, the Bellows are no more guilty of criminal negligence than are all those legislators who rejected HR100 and continue to ignore the people who suffer and die from lack of access to care.Perhaps, in the future, the Oregon legislature will embrace the concept that health care is a human right.
Marc Shapiro, HCAO-Eugene