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Faith healers acquitted of manslaughter in the death of their two year old

Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
edited February 2010 in Debate and/or Discourse
linky link. here's another article with some more information
OREGON CITY, Ore. - The jury forewoman in the trial of an Oregon couple acquitted of manslaughter in their daughter's pneumonia death says she felt the pair were "loving people" who didn't mean to harm the 15-month-old girl.

The jury knew Carl Brent Worthington and his pregnant wife, Raylene, "had no intentions of ever harming their child," Ashlee Santos told reporters on Thursday outside the Clackamas County Courthouse. "If anything, the evidence showed the opposite."

...

In the Worthington trial, prosecutors said Ava failed to flourish most of her life because of a neck cyst that impeded her breathing and eating, contributing to her fatal pneumonia. She died on a Sunday evening after family and church members prayed over her and anointed her with olive oil.

The state medical examiner said she could easily have been saved with antibiotics.

But the defense attacked the credibility of the state's expert witnesses and said the child died of a fast-moving blood infection that can accompany pneumonia. The Worthingtons testified that the cyst was a trait in the father's family and that they thought their child only had a cold.

Ava Worthington died of complications of pneumonia after her parents opted for faith healing over professional medical treatment. This case was interesting because it was the first test of Oregon's recent law attempting to make parents criminally liable for deaths and injuries as a result of pursuing faith healing over traditional medical treatment. Obviously, it didn't work out that way. The jury appears to have been confused over what the law was and what their role was, as well. The case raised a number of interesting problems with the law, one of the foremost being that almost no one things that the penalties involved provide any kind of deterrent or rehabilitative function.

So, whatcha think D&D? Should parents have the right to a religious defense in the death of a child? Is there any punishment that makes sense here? Is enforcement too thorny to handle?

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  • WotanAnubisWotanAnubis Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Dyscord wrote: »
    Should parents have the right to a religious defense in the death of a child?
    Only if you live in a theocracy.

    Is there any punishment that makes sense here?
    Is there some kind of law about neglect leading to death?

    Then again, the parents probably didn't think they were neglecting the kid what with all the praying they did. But I suppose medical ignorance leading to death isn't on the books.

  • The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited July 2009
    Dreadful situation, backs up my position that parental rights go too far in many cases. You want to opt out of modern medicine, fine. Your kids can opt to do that too, once they're not kids anymore. I also think medical monitoring of young children can be pretty inadequate in a lot of cases. If the child had been in contact with modern physicians before her death, she would have been treated, quite rightly, under a court order.

    I don't give a flying fuck if they think their trouble with the law is a badge of honour, that has nothing to do with whether they mistreated their kid. And I think either they both should have been convicted or neither.

    That said, the law doesn't appear to draw a line between emergency treatment and things like immunisation or wildly nonstandard diets. I may think parents are neglectful ignorant assholes for not immunising, and may wish to beat those parents who act out their bizarre food phobias on their unfortunate sprogs, but that's not on the same level as avoiding immediately lifesaving treatments.

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  • ScooterScooter Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    I'm pretty sure neglect leading to death is manslaughter, in which case it sounds like the appropriate charge here.

  • The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited July 2009
    Yeah, I don't know why they needed a special law for this.

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  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Should've clarified in the OP, but prior to 1999 (when the law in question was passed), Oregon recognized religious belief as a valid defense in these cases.

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  • OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    You know, if at some point during the period where you're watching your child die and expecting God to intervene and save them, you don't turn to your spouse and say something to the effect of "maybe this is all bullshit, we should get him/her to a hospital" you probably lack the critical thinking skills necessary to actually raise children.

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  • DeebaserDeebaser Alpha Teemo wawing a note with the cinema code Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    They should go to jail for one count of child neglect and/or insufficient faith.

  • Mr RayMr Ray Sarcasm sphereRegistered User regular
    edited July 2009
    OptimusZed wrote: »
    You know, if at some point during the period where you're watching your child die and expecting God to intervene and save them, you don't turn to your spouse and say something to the effect of "maybe this is all bullshit, we should get him/her to a hospital" you probably lack the critical thinking skills necessary to actually raise children.

    I don't see why one precludes the other. How about you dose them up with antibiotics and then give them a healthy dose of vitamin jesus once the trained medical professionals have had a go? You can even give god credit when your child recovers if it makes you feel better...

    Spoiler:
  • EchoEcho staring is caring Super Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited July 2009
    Mr Ray wrote: »
    I don't see why one precludes the other. How about you dose them up with antibiotics and then give them a healthy dose of vitamin jesus once the trained medical professionals have had a go? You can even give god credit when your child recovers if it makes you feel better...

    There's a documentary about that film crew that snuck into North Korea together with a surgeon that cured cataracts that made North Koreans blind, mostly caused by malnutrition in the first place.

    As soon as the bandages came off and they could see again they thanked the Dear Leader Kim-Jong Il for curing their sight, only his greatness could have done it, etc etc etc.

    Not a single word to the surgeon.

    That was a very sobering insight about faith/indoctrination.

  • zeenyzeeny Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Criminal mistreatment? The jury is fucking insane.

  • AegisAegis Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    While I don't think the parents were acting in good faith in this case (what with the belief against medicine as a whole, as opposed to a specific medical treatment as per Jehovah's Witnesses that also provide for alternative medical solutions), I don't envy the job of the jury in having to rule on a rather complicated case compounded by, what seems to be, either insufficiently clear or too complicated legislation. Specifically:
    Judge Steven Maurer had instructed the jury the standard for deciding whether the Worthingtons met their duty to protect their daughter was whether a "reasonable person" would have asked for medical help.

    Santos said that was a tough question for the jury, because everybody has a "different definition of a reasonable person."

    I think the jury had a point here in that how should the court go about defining reasonable.

  • DarkPrimusDarkPrimus IT'S DARE! Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Echo wrote: »
    Mr Ray wrote: »
    I don't see why one precludes the other. How about you dose them up with antibiotics and then give them a healthy dose of vitamin jesus once the trained medical professionals have had a go? You can even give god credit when your child recovers if it makes you feel better...

    There's a documentary about that film crew that snuck into North Korea together with a surgeon that cured cataracts that made North Koreans blind, mostly caused by malnutrition in the first place.

    As soon as the bandages came off and they could see again they thanked the Dear Leader Kim-Jong Il for curing their sight, only his greatness could have done it, etc etc etc.

    Not a single word to the surgeon.

    That was a very sobering insight about faith/indoctrination.

    The vast majority of North Korean ex-patriots become evangelical Christians.

    Other, more cynical ex-patriots have pointed out the commonality between the Kim clan's personality cult and religions such as Christianity.

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  • HenroidHenroid Nobody Nowhere fastRegistered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Echo wrote: »
    That was a very sobering insight about faith/indoctrination.

    You mean about it going too far.

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  • Grid SystemGrid System Registered User
    edited July 2009
    OREGON CITY, Ore. - The jury forewoman ... felt the pair were "loving people" who didn't mean to harm the 15-month-old girl.

    The jury knew Carl Brent Worthington and his pregnant wife, Raylene, "had no intentions of ever harming their child," Ashlee Santos told reporters on Thursday outside the Clackamas County Courthouse. "If anything, the evidence showed the opposite."
    I found this very troubling because to the best of my knowledge, the offences they were charged with do not require specific intent. Reading one of the linked articles confirmed that. I hope the prosecutors appeal because juries should not get away with selectively ignoring or adding requirements to offences.

  • RUNN1NGMANRUNN1NGMAN Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    I fall on the lenient side when it comes to charging parents over a child's accidental death (like if a parent forgot their kid in the car or something). I mean, you can't deter something like that from happening, and there's really nothing you can do to make the parent regret what they did any more than they already do. Sending them to jail just doesn't seem to serve any purpose to me.

    But if a parent makes a conscious decision to forego medical treatment and instead use MAGIC? Fuck that.

  • AegisAegis Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    OREGON CITY, Ore. - The jury forewoman ... felt the pair were "loving people" who didn't mean to harm the 15-month-old girl.

    The jury knew Carl Brent Worthington and his pregnant wife, Raylene, "had no intentions of ever harming their child," Ashlee Santos told reporters on Thursday outside the Clackamas County Courthouse. "If anything, the evidence showed the opposite."
    I found this very troubling because to the best of my knowledge, the offences they were charged with do not require specific intent. Reading one of the linked articles confirmed that. I hope the prosecutors appeal because juries should not get away with selectively ignoring or adding requirements to offences.

    Well it could be indicative of a badly written law (or inadequate jury instruction) if it fails to take into account the fact that juries tend to be people. Especially if the case is sensitive and easily resonates.

  • taerictaeric Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited July 2009
    I hope the prosecutors appeal because juries should not get away with selectively ignoring or adding requirements to offences.

    To my knowledge, this isn't something that can be appealed.

  • KalTorakKalTorak Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    The jury knew Carl Brent Worthington and his pregnant wife, Raylene, "had no intentions of ever harming their child," Ashlee Santos told reporters on Thursday outside the Clackamas County Courthouse. "If anything, the evidence showed the opposite."

    Erm, isn't that the point of "manslaughter"? That the intention wasn't necessarily there, but someone still died and it was your fault? If someone has intentions of killing someone and succeeds, that's murder. If someone is a neglectful driver and runs someone over, that's manslaughter.
    taeric wrote: »
    I hope the prosecutors appeal because juries should not get away with selectively ignoring or adding requirements to offences.

    To my knowledge, this isn't something that can be appealed.

    Ya, I'm pretty sure prosecutors can't appeal, they only get the one shot. Defendants can appeal, but you can't try a defendant twice for the same thing just because you didn't convict the first time (I think that's what double jeopardy is? Might be wrong).

  • Grid SystemGrid System Registered User
    edited July 2009
    I'll revise my position then: I wish the prosecutors could appeal, because that is some bullshit.

  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    The jury knew Carl Brent Worthington and his pregnant wife, Raylene, "had no intentions of ever harming their child," Ashlee Santos told reporters on Thursday outside the Clackamas County Courthouse. "If anything, the evidence showed the opposite."
    D:

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  • KalTorakKalTorak Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    The jury knew Carl Brent Worthington and his pregnant wife, Raylene, "had no intentions of ever harming their child," Ashlee Santos told reporters on Thursday outside the Clackamas County Courthouse. "If anything, the evidence showed the opposite."
    D:

    Don't worry, I'm sure the kid will be safe.



    As long as it never gets sick.

    Spoiler:

  • DmanDman Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    I totally missed that she was pregnant

    D:D:D:

    God damn, that's fucked up.

  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Have there been rulings in the past on to what extent freedom of religion extends (ie animal sacrifices, smoking pot, and other gray area illegal things)? At what point does the child's right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness get protected by the state above the parents wishes?

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  • AegisAegis Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    KalTorak wrote: »
    The jury knew Carl Brent Worthington and his pregnant wife, Raylene, "had no intentions of ever harming their child," Ashlee Santos told reporters on Thursday outside the Clackamas County Courthouse. "If anything, the evidence showed the opposite."

    Erm, isn't that the point of "manslaughter"? That the intention wasn't necessarily there, but someone still died and it was your fault? If someone has intentions of killing someone and succeeds, that's murder. If someone is a neglectful driver and runs someone over, that's manslaughter.

    Again, if this is the fault of anyone, it's the judge/prosecution for not better conveying how/why intent doesn't matter in manslaughter charges.

    The jury did seem to otherwise show they had at least some understanding of the case in general by finding the husband guilty of another misdemeanour charge while dismissing the charge against the mother, given the patriarchal nature of the church/community.

  • AsiinaAsiina Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    RUNN1NGMAN wrote: »
    I fall on the lenient side when it comes to charging parents over a child's accidental death (like if a parent forgot their kid in the car or something). I mean, you can't deter something like that from happening, and there's really nothing you can do to make the parent regret what they did any more than they already do. Sending them to jail just doesn't seem to serve any purpose to me.

    But if a parent makes a conscious decision to forego medical treatment and instead use MAGIC? Fuck that.

    Yeah, while a tragedy I find it harder to get all up in arms over this case compared to others where children die over faith healing. They didn't know how sick their child was. This could have happened to an ignorant family as well. It's not like they went to the doctor, the doctor gave a treatment and they said FUCK YOU, HEATHEN. GOD WILL HEAL MY CHILD. Which has been the case in some of the other incidents.

  • joshofalltradesjoshofalltrades Parental Unit RemulakRegistered User regular
    edited July 2009
    As somebody who is religious, I find it reprehensible (and not just on a religious level) that their dumb, non-Biblical theology supersedes the entire rest of the Bible. You know, the part that says to treat others as you would like to be treated.

    Well, I would like to not die and I'm sure the child felt the same way.

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  • TL DRTL DR Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Echo wrote: »
    Mr Ray wrote: »
    I don't see why one precludes the other. How about you dose them up with antibiotics and then give them a healthy dose of vitamin jesus once the trained medical professionals have had a go? You can even give god credit when your child recovers if it makes you feel better...

    There's a documentary about that film crew that snuck into North Korea together with a surgeon that cured cataracts that made North Koreans blind, mostly caused by malnutrition in the first place.

    As soon as the bandages came off and they could see again they thanked the Dear Leader Kim-Jong Il for curing their sight, only his greatness could have done it, etc etc etc.

    Not a single word to the surgeon.

    That was a very sobering insight about faith/indoctrination.

    I saw that. This old lady was going on about "Thank you, Great Leader. I promise to work harder in the salt mines to bring you more salt to increase your happiness!"

    When asked about the hardest thing about her mother being blind, a woman said "Without a doubt, that she can not look upon our Great Leader"

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  • PracticalProblemSolverPracticalProblemSolver Registered User
    edited July 2009
    Ashlee Santos: "They're people. They're not monsters"

    Yup, and thanks to you they're just 'people' who happen to get away with letting their children die. If the child falls in a lake do they wait for jesus to part the waters?

    What a colossal jury failure, Followers of Christ current child manslaughter count: 21. No doubt this number will continue to rise now that they know a law put into effect specifically to stop their criminal neglect of children won't be enforced by juries. All this taking place minutes away from the best children's hospital in the pacific nw.

    "Dear God, please protect me from your followers."

  • AegisAegis Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    As somebody who is religious, I find it reprehensible (and not just on a religious level) that their dumb, non-Biblical theology supersedes the entire rest of the Bible. You know, the part that says to treat others as you would like to be treated.

    Well, I would like to not die and I'm sure the child felt the same way.

    While I can understand the underlying point behind this, I'm fairly sure the parents involved also would have preferred their child not die. That they chose a non-medical way to address this doesn't indicate they had no concern for the welfare of their child.

  • KistraKistra Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    They should be in jail. And I hope the next child gets taken away from them.

    Pneumonia is hard to miss. I don't buy that they didn't know their kid was seriously sick.

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  • ForarForar #432 Already prepping for Toronto Fan Expo!Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Dman wrote: »
    I totally missed that she was pregnant

    D:D:D:

    God damn, that's fucked up.

    If at first you don't succeed...

  • HenroidHenroid Nobody Nowhere fastRegistered User regular
    edited July 2009
    I'm not sure if I'm prepared to lay out an opinion on this because it seems really tricky to me. I mean, common sense, no shit you go to a hospital and get official medical care. On the other they have the right to refuse it and practice their religion. But on the other hand should they force that on their kid.

    It's too complicated for me to handle. I know they did wrong, but what kind of punishment they (the parents) receive is just too much.

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  • joshofalltradesjoshofalltrades Parental Unit RemulakRegistered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Aegis wrote: »
    As somebody who is religious, I find it reprehensible (and not just on a religious level) that their dumb, non-Biblical theology supersedes the entire rest of the Bible. You know, the part that says to treat others as you would like to be treated.

    Well, I would like to not die and I'm sure the child felt the same way.

    While I can understand the underlying point behind this, I'm fairly sure the parents involved also would have preferred their child not die. That they chose a non-medical way to address this doesn't indicate they had no concern for the welfare of their child.

    The death count for children of the people who think this way is rising. The evidence is there that God is not intervening for these people and it was ignored. I'm sure their preference was that their child live, but obviously their nonsense beliefs superseded the life of their child and that's just ridiculous.

    Stupidity should not be a valid defense.

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    I get by on the knowledge that I'm not going to spend a whole lot of time mucking about inside of my asshole anyway
  • KistraKistra Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Henroid wrote: »
    I'm not sure if I'm prepared to lay out an opinion on this because it seems really tricky to me. I mean, common sense, no shit you go to a hospital and get official medical care. On the other they have the right to refuse it and practice their religion. But on the other hand should they force that on their kid.

    It's too complicated for me to handle. I know they did wrong, but what kind of punishment they (the parents) receive is just too much.

    The law is pretty clear that it is illegal to force religious medical views on children.

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  • HenroidHenroid Nobody Nowhere fastRegistered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Kistra wrote: »
    Henroid wrote: »
    I'm not sure if I'm prepared to lay out an opinion on this because it seems really tricky to me. I mean, common sense, no shit you go to a hospital and get official medical care. On the other they have the right to refuse it and practice their religion. But on the other hand should they force that on their kid.

    It's too complicated for me to handle. I know they did wrong, but what kind of punishment they (the parents) receive is just too much.

    The law is pretty clear that it is illegal to force religious medical views on children.

    Can you pull up that information, like source citing? It's not that I don't believe you, but I'm willing to be shown I'm wrong when it comes to written law (which is what we are in America really; a nation of written law rather than the intent of law - but that's another thread).

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  • AegisAegis Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Aegis wrote: »
    As somebody who is religious, I find it reprehensible (and not just on a religious level) that their dumb, non-Biblical theology supersedes the entire rest of the Bible. You know, the part that says to treat others as you would like to be treated.

    Well, I would like to not die and I'm sure the child felt the same way.

    While I can understand the underlying point behind this, I'm fairly sure the parents involved also would have preferred their child not die. That they chose a non-medical way to address this doesn't indicate they had no concern for the welfare of their child.

    The death count for children of the people who think this way is rising. The evidence is there that God is not intervening for these people and it was ignored. I'm sure their preference was that their child live, but obviously their nonsense beliefs superseded the life of their child and that's just ridiculous.

    Stupidity should not be a valid defense.

    I was commenting more on the implication (through your use of a biblical tenet and the appeal to the child's wish to live) that parents in these situations don't care for the welfare of their child, as opposed to any legal defense.

  • psycojesterpsycojester Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Kistra wrote: »
    They should be in jail. And I hope the next child gets taken away from them.

    Pneumonia is hard to miss. I don't buy that they didn't know their kid was seriously sick.

    I think you're giving the medicine is the devil crowd waaaaaaay too much credit for smarts there.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • ShadowfireShadowfire Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Aegis wrote: »
    While I don't think the parents were acting in good faith in this case (what with the belief against medicine as a whole, as opposed to a specific medical treatment as per Jehovah's Witnesses that also provide for alternative medical solutions), I don't envy the job of the jury in having to rule on a rather complicated case compounded by, what seems to be, either insufficiently clear or too complicated legislation. Specifically:
    Judge Steven Maurer had instructed the jury the standard for deciding whether the Worthingtons met their duty to protect their daughter was whether a "reasonable person" would have asked for medical help.

    Santos said that was a tough question for the jury, because everybody has a "different definition of a reasonable person."

    I think the jury had a point here in that how should the court go about defining reasonable.

    This is how law is handled, though. Particularly in civil cases, but also in criminal cases... "how would a reasonable person handle X situation" is generally the benchmark.

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  • AegisAegis Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Shadowfire wrote: »
    Aegis wrote: »
    While I don't think the parents were acting in good faith in this case (what with the belief against medicine as a whole, as opposed to a specific medical treatment as per Jehovah's Witnesses that also provide for alternative medical solutions), I don't envy the job of the jury in having to rule on a rather complicated case compounded by, what seems to be, either insufficiently clear or too complicated legislation. Specifically:
    Judge Steven Maurer had instructed the jury the standard for deciding whether the Worthingtons met their duty to protect their daughter was whether a "reasonable person" would have asked for medical help.

    Santos said that was a tough question for the jury, because everybody has a "different definition of a reasonable person."

    I think the jury had a point here in that how should the court go about defining reasonable.

    This is how law is handled, though. Particularly in civil cases, but also in criminal cases... "how would a reasonable person handle X situation" is generally the benchmark.

    Yes I know, I'm just wondering whether the courts should be elaborating a bit more on what they're expecting in terms of 'reasonable' given the ambiguity present in using the term. Are they wanting the jury to be including location-cultural contexts in determing what would be reasonable when such things are applicable to the case in question? If so, should they explicitly outline such or should it be the responsibility of the prosecutor to show it has no bearing?

  • PracticalProblemSolverPracticalProblemSolver Registered User
    edited July 2009
    Henroid wrote: »
    Kistra wrote: »
    Henroid wrote: »
    I'm not sure if I'm prepared to lay out an opinion on this because it seems really tricky to me. I mean, common sense, no shit you go to a hospital and get official medical care. On the other they have the right to refuse it and practice their religion. But on the other hand should they force that on their kid.

    It's too complicated for me to handle. I know they did wrong, but what kind of punishment they (the parents) receive is just too much.

    The law is pretty clear that it is illegal to force religious medical views on children.

    Can you pull up that information, like source citing? It's not that I don't believe you, but I'm willing to be shown I'm wrong when it comes to written law (which is what we are in America really; a nation of written law rather than the intent of law - but that's another thread).

    You must be new to oregon if you don't remember the faith healer apocalypse of 1999, when the house passed bill 2494 which made amendments specifically targeting faith healers and removing their protections after a medical examiner alleged that they killed 25 children over 10 years and the Oregonian alleged that 21 out of the 78 children buried in their cemetery died of preventable causes.

    Since you asked for a source: http://www.leg.state.or.us/99reg/measures/hb2400.dir/hb2494.en.html

    edit: they do have protection federally and in many other states

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