Idaho lawmakers have taken their first step in reviewing the state's contentious faith-healing exemption law, which allows families to cite religious reasons for medical decisions without fear of being charged with neglect or abuse.

Legal experts, child welfare workers and church-goers took turns testifying in front of a legislative working group on Thursday.

Supporters argue the law - which has been in place since the 1970s - protects religious freedom. Meanwhile, critics counter that the law has resulted in hundreds of vulnerable children being needlessly injured or dead.

In 2015, a working group appointed by the governor found that the deaths of two children occurred because the families withheld medical assistance for religious reasons.

The interim committee will continue to meet over the summer, but it's unclear if they will submit a recommendation before the 2017 legislative session.