A 21-year-old woman is now pushing to make it illegal for parents to reject medical treatment for their children based on their religious beliefs after her parents refused to treat her congenital heart condition and instead opted for “faith healing.” Mariah Walton was born with a hole in her heart, and although the condition could have been fixed at birth, it's no longer treatable, and threatens her life.

Walton left home two years ago and says she would like to see her parents prosecuted for what “they deserve” after allowing her to end up in this condition, The Guardian reported.

Walton was born with a congenital heart disease that caused a small hole to form in her most vital organ. The hole could have been closed during Walton’s infancy, and even treated later on in her childhood, but now the damage has become irreversible. Her parents, fundamentalist Mormons, refused to give their young daughter medical care. Instead they insisted that prayer and natural remedies such as herbs and essential oils would be enough to cure her and “drive the evil spirits away,” The Independent reported.

Now, at 21, Walton explains that she is permanently disabled and her life is painful. In addition, the once fixable hole now threatens to kill her. Although it is legal in her home state of Idaho for parents to refuse medical treatment for their children due to religious beliefs, Walton and her nine other siblings are pushing to make this a punishable offense.

Read: Parent's' Religious Beliefs Shouldn't Hinder Children's Treatment, Pediatricians Urge

“My lungs burn because I can’t get the oxygen I need,” she told local news channel KTVB. “They used to pray over me. They’d say: ‘God’s going to heal you, just have faith’ and all kinds of stuff… I think it’s time to prosecute them.”

In addition to painful breathing, Walton is permanently hooked up to a breathing machine which at times is screwed into her bones to anchor it, The Guardian reported. She has no other option for a cure except a heart and lung transplant. The chances of being offered these organs are low, and even if Walton was, the procedures are extremely risky.

Unlike other U.S. states, Idaho parents cannot be prosecuted for neglect for refusing medical treatment for their children if this refusal is based on their faith, according to a shield law that cites the First Amendment right to freedom of religion. Walton hopes that standing up to her parents could help to change this legal loophole and prevent future parents from doing the same to their children.

Walton is not alone in her efforts to change this law; the governor of Idaho’s Task Force on Children at Risk stated last year that “religious freedoms must be protected; but vulnerable children must also be appropriately protected from unnecessary harm and death,” The Guardian reported. Still, not only does the law remain, but it also has the chance to be expanded to cover not only parents' religious beliefs but also their “ideologies.”

See Also:

The Human Mind On Religion: 'Spiritual Awakening' Activates Same Brain Region As Love, Sex

Mental Health, Intelligence, And Wealth: What Science Says About The Religious vs. Non-Religious