Two state senators introduced a bill Wednesday that would eliminate the “personal belief” exemption that parents use to enroll children in school who are not fully vaccinated.
The bill would also require that parents be notified of the immunization rates at their child’s school. The bill comes on the heels of a measles outbreak that has sickened more than 100 people across 14 states, including California, which allows parents of public school students to opt out of childhood vaccinations due to “personal beliefs.”
Predictably, the ruckus surrounding the outbreak of measles in California has prompted two California lawmakers to take swift action. A move with huge implications considering that California is a political trendsetter for the rest of the country. A strange move if one considers its stances on other forms of medical and health freedom.
On Wednesday, the two lawmakers were moving to introduce such “legislation to end the right of parents in the state to exempt their children from school vaccinations based on personal beliefs,” according to Reuters. Another news report uses the term “parents will be forced…”
Also on Wednesday, a top Los Angeles County health official said that a total of 21 cases have been recorded in the county but that after the initial wave of reports, the number has fallen to four in the latest two-week period.
So, is it really a good idea to invoke permanent legislation for an outbreak that is nearly contained and by only working from fear-based assumptions? The media keeps reporting that measles was nearly eradicated in 2000 and blames unvaccinated people for its re-emergence. Unfortunately, measles was nearly wiped out in the 1960s – the vaccine was introduced in 1963. Getting to the bottom of the issue would require less reaction and more investigation, not blame-laced rants reported by corpirate media. To look beyond the loud distraction, the media-reported assumptions just wouldn't add up.
According to Reuters – California would be the 33rd state to ban parents from opting out of vaccines based on personal beliefs. They must be talking about the philosophical exemption, not based on religion. As of Feb 1, National Conference of State Legislatures reports that “Almost all states grant religious exemptions for people who have religious beliefs against immunizations. Twenty states allow philosophical exemptions for those who object to immunizations because of personal, moral or other beliefs.”
California statute does not recognize religion as a reason for opting out, so by eliminating personal belief exemption there would be virtually no opt-out at all for children. National Vaccine Information Center notes how difficult it would be to seek a medical exemption – written by an M.D. – as the CDC has relaxed its standards for who is medically exempt from vaccines.
It is apparent now that allowing parents' medical rights to be pigeon-holed into an exemption to begin with, has allowed for that “right to exemption” to be de-legislated and thereby closed. After all, it's always been referred to as a “loophole.” While this may have offered comfort to parents who could concede and just go get an exemption, the aim was not to allow the “loophole” indefinitely.
NVIC notes that state laws are already on the books to allow exemption on the basis of the 1st Amendment unless – there is a “compelling State interest.” It just so happens, California has experienced a “compelling State interest” in the form of an outbreak.
All states permit exemptions for medical reasons. All but two let parents refuse to vaccinate their children because of their religious convictions, according to the latest tally from the National Conference of State Legislatures.The California Department of Public Health announced Wednesday that the number of confirmed cases of measles in the state since an outbreak began in December at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim has reached 99.
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