Last week, state lawmakers in New Jersey advanced a bill that will make it harder for families to avoid getting their children shots based on religious grounds. Lawmakers have been attempting to tighten vaccine rules for six years with no success.
As you can imagine, moments after the state Assembly Health Committee approved the measure, “dozens of people leapt to their feet shouting, ‘You are going to hell!’ ‘Shame!’ and ‘You Democrats destroy America!'”1 You can watch the video below.
(If you care about your freedom and civil liberties the councilwoman in the upper left-hand corner of the video, who is smiling as people are outraged about their freedoms potentially be stripped from them, should make you angry as hell.)
The vote and outburst followed two hours of testimony from parents, grandparents and religious leaders, and a further 20 minutes for Chairman Herb Conaway, D-Burlington, the bill’s sponsor, to read the names of opponents who declined to testify.
Hilary Bilkis of Rockaway said, “My rights as a citizen are in jeopardy despite being protected by the constitution. What will be the litmus test? Who will be the one to enforce it?”2 And Ashley Blackwell of Old Bridge said because vaccines contain aborted fetal tissue, “she ‘could not go against the word of God’ by allowing that material to enter her child’s body.”3She went on to say, “A parent’s choice is none of your business.” 4
The bill, which opponents called burdensome, intrusive and discriminatory, would require families opposing on religious grounds to submit a notarized letter explaining how vaccinations violates their faith. Currently, the only requirement is a letter to the school district stating vaccines violate their family’s religious beliefs.
The letter and other requirements are as follows:
- the letter must prove their request isn’t based solely on “political, sociological, philosophical, or moral views, or concerns related to the safety or efficacy of the vaccination.”5
- include a statement saying parents understand the risks and benefits of vaccines
- that the Health Commissioner may exclude their unvaccinated child from school in the event of a communicable disease threat6
- and a doctor or other medical professional, designated by the state, must verify in writing the parents have been counseled to the risks of declining vaccine for their child 7
Although public health experts have long argued the religious exemption functions more like a philosophical protest and that it puts children at risk of contracting “preventable and potentially serious diseases,” only 2 percent of the student population claimed a religious exemption during the 2016-17 academic year. Two percent doesn’t seem like a number they should be afraid of if vaccines work.
“The committee vote was 7-3, with two Republicans and Democratic Assemblyman Tim Eustace of Bergen County voting no. Eustace said his adopted children were born HIV positive. ‘I had to make a decision on what kinds of vaccination they would have. I had the luxury of making that decision for my children,’ he said.”8
And Conaway, a physician said, “This is the right and moral thing to do, and in the end, it’s just also common sense based on science.”9
The bill will now advance to the full 80-member Assembly.
If you live in New Jersey, I suggest you call your state and local representatives and let them know how you feel about this. And just in case, I’d be prepared to either vaccinate or start homeschooling.