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March 30, 1970

The Right to Live

Author Affiliations

Hartford Hospital Hartford, Conn

JAMA. 1970;211(13):2159. doi:10.1001/jama.1970.03170130055026

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


This book's subtitle "The Position of the Law when Religious Dogma Opposes Medicine" states the author's two primary concerns: first, the rights and welfare of persons, especially children, who fail to receive medical treatment for religious reasons; and second, the freedom from liability of pastors and faith healers who preach this. Christian Scientists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, and similar groups are, each in turn, analyzed and taken to task.

Unfortunately, Cawley seeks only to prosecute, not to understand the complex subject of faith healing. He depends on very limited source material and evidently had little personal contact with members of the religious groups he condemns. The result is a sad lack of objectivity and basic factual knowledge. His careless statements, for example, about "elders" of the Christian Science Church, bear witness to his inability or unwillingness to acquire insight into the structure and beliefs of such faiths.

Conceding the right of