Iagree that refusing a child proper medical care is horribly disgusting negligence, and should certainly be a punishable offense.
Do I think that parents should use prayer as an alternative to actual medical care? No, of course not. However, I don't think there is any legal way to tell parents that they can't pray. We can however hold them accountable if praying is ALL they do.
The best option I can think of is if people that see this going on report it to child services. If that is done, there is the real hope that they will intervene, get the child the help it needs, find the parents unfit and a child will not need to needlessly die. That really is the most important part here. Even if the parents go to jail after the fact, that doesn't help the child if they had to die an easily avoidable death. The parents may say it's 'gods will' but the only thing they are guilty of is being born into a toxic family environment. So it really is important that people come forward before it's too late.
I will assume that you are referring to cases where the parents refuse medical treatment in favor of prayer. This actually comes up far more often than it should.
In the eyes of the law, I think it should be considered negligence with the possibility of criminal charges. We have to make laws based on what can rationally be supported and defended, and faith healing just doesn't fit the bill. I respect a parent's rights to raise their child as best they see fit, but what the parent owns is the bond of parent to child, not the child itself. The child is no person's property and deserves protection under the law against undue harm. Neglecting a child with persistent symptoms of illness is undue harm, regardless of the intentions.
Some might consider this religion discrimination and an assault on freedom, but I'm inclined to disagree. Child protection laws do not specifically target any religion; human law simply cannot be held accountable to unfounded superstition and to reason at the same time. The parents place priority on supernatural law, allowing their children to pay the forfeit of health and life for it. The parents, too, should be willing to accept the penalty of law for placing supernatural law above human law.
I suppose, the complex issue for me is at what point is a child capable of refusing medical treatment with their own voice. For instance, if a twelve-year-old refuses medical treatment in favor of faith healing, I would abide by their decision provided they were given a psychological evaluation. Perhaps they would be little more than a victim of their culture, of their parents, of superstition, but people die tragically all the time.
They are filthy excuses for human beings - And should be fully prosecuted under the law.
We all know that if a parent had sexual intercourse with their child ... and said ... "Oh , but my FAITH tells me that it's OK!" They would be considered very sick individuals indeed.
But to refuse medical treatment - how is this any different?
They are endangering the life a child. I don't give a fuck whether it's their child or not. If they can't be rational human beings ... they shouldn't be allowed to have children in the first place.