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                      SPEAKER: LIZ HEYWOOD

‘Religious Overdose: My Survival of Childhood Medical Neglect’

True Story Told by a Young Woman Who Lost Her Leg to Prayer

When Liz Heywood was 13, she developed a bone infection in her left knee that was so bad, her mother had to put a cookie sheet under the knee to catch the pus that was draining from it. At times Liz screamed in pain but her parents, both Christian Scientists, refused to call a doctor.  The only medical treatment she received was prayer by a Christian Science practitioner.  Liz wonders now why none of the neighbors who heard her screams ever investigated.

Liz no longer has her left leg, which has been amputated above the knee. She will walk into the NYC Atheists’ meeting on Thursday wearing her prosthetic left leg. 

“I remember clearly the agony and anguish I felt as a child,” Liz says. “I remember that no adult stepped forward to end it. The law authorized my parents’ decision to leave me untreated. And the sanction of the law discouraged others from doing what is right. But refusing to act on the pain a child feels is criminal.”

Telling Her Story

Today, Liz is telling her story to legislators, hoping to help other children. “My case is not unique,” Liz says. “Children today are in danger. Federal law still contains a loophole that permits states to ignore the kind of torture I experienced, and 39 states have elected to have such religious loopholes in their child abuse laws. “

Liz, who left the Christian Science religion behind years ago, has forgiven her parents who, she now thinks, did not know what to do about her crisis and simply adhered to their church’s teachings.  

Need to Amend Child Abuse Laws

But  her heart goes out to all children who are, or will be, victims of childhood medical neglect. “I hope you all encourage Congress to amend the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) so that states protect all abused and neglected children equally--instead of excluding religious-based medical neglect from their definition of child abuse.”

Come on Thursday, November 21, to hear Liz Heywood’s heart-wrenching story and understand her fiery resolve to fight for children’s rights to medical care. 

Compassion for Children

If you, as an Atheist, have any compassion at all for the plight of helpless children who cannot fight for their own rights or are too frightened or too naive to even know that they are entitled to medical help, come and hear Liz Heywood’s story.  

Your heart may break but we know you will be inspired by Liz’s courage and determination. This is how moral Atheists face adversity: by trying to make sure that future generations don’t suffer from the ignorance that beset us in the past. Three cheers for Liz!




                a talk by Liz Heywood of Ithaca, NY


               6:30  P.M.


                 15 West 39th St.

                 3rd Floor

COST:     NYC Atheists suggest a voluntary

                donation of $10 to help pay

                the cost of the conference space.

                Students and unemployed, free.

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  • Jane E.

    Liz's talk was poignant and chilling. Poignant because her power point photos of herself with two legs were heart-wrenching. Chilling because a simple antibiotic injection could have saved her left leg. During the Q and A, the audience came down hard on those who denied her antibiotics in the name of religion--Christian Science, in this case. Liz said that some 39 states still legally allow parents to deny their children medical care in the name of several religions, not just Christian Science.

    November 22, 2013

  • Eileen Marie R.

    Sorry I won't be able to make it tonight. Hope to see you all on on Sunday.

    November 21, 2013

  • Elisabet

    Christian Science is obviously an instance of religion being directly injurious and potentially lethal. So I hope there is a good turnout for our speaker Liz Heywood, to support her and to spread the word, and action, on this crime under color of a god's love.

    1 · November 14, 2013

    • Jane E.

      Good point, Betz! If you want visible proof of the harm religion does, you will see it when you see this young woman walk in with only one leg. Yet, her leg could have been saved with a simple course of antibiotics. Liz is remarkably brave but she is determined to not let this happen to any other young person.

      November 14, 2013

    • Jane E.

      It's hard to believe that in this age of modern medicine, there are people in our country still using Bronze Age methods (prayer) to treat infection. Yes, it is happening NOW in pockets of religious people all over the country. It is nothing short of child abuse!

      November 14, 2013

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