ACLU Fights Democrat Vaccine Mandate Bill in California

AP Photo/Toby Talbot
AP Photo/Toby Talbot

Moms fighting vaccine mandate bill SB277 in the California legislature may have found an ally with the state’s branch of the ACLU given that both question its constitutionality.

Moms, some with children, journeyed again to Sacramento on Wednesday to protest the bill that would strip parents of their right to opt their children out of one or more vacinations required for  public or private school enrollment using the current “personal belief” waiver. The new bill mandates that under-vaccinated children must be homeschooled or enrolled in an independent study program.

The moms spoke cautiously with the Los Angeles Times, saying they would be back in the coming week for the next phase of the bill in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The Times reported that the ACLU joined the fight, questioning the constitutionality of the bill. ACLU California Center for Advocacy and Policy legislative director, Kevin G. Baker penned a letter to the bill’s authors, State Senators Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) and Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica). In that letter Baker contended that California’s Constitution provides children with a right to a public education.

Baker, according to the Times, shied away from making a statement on whether or not parents should vaccinate. Rather Baker’s letter contends that the bill fails to provide ample argument for the state having a “compelling interest” in mandating vaccinations. “We’re not solving it with this broad brush approach that keeps kids out of school.”

A mere 2.54% of California Kindergarteners had personal belief waivers on file at the beginning of the 2014-15 school year. It was a voluntary decrease from the prior year. 0.52% are based in some religious belief according to state records while the another 1.64% are based on “health care practitioner” counseling.

AB 2109, a 16-month old bill that requires health professionals to discuss vaccination benefits and risks is used in Baker’s letter to show a voluntary increase in vaccinations since the bill was put in place.

A much greater 6.9% of California Kindergarteners were admitted under “conditional entrant” status, meaning parents did not choose to opt-out of vaccinations, but simply had not yet received or provided documentation for all vaccinations required at the time of enrollment.

Baker points to that much higher percentage of school children that, according to sometimes out of date school records, are under-vaccinated. “Maybe we should put some teeth in this obligation to report to see if we really have a problem, and if so, where it is.”

The Centers for Disease Control reports “herd immunity” at above 90% for measles, a rate that is already more than sufficiently met in 2014-15 California Kindergarten enrollees at a rate of 92.6%.

“I was hoping for more of a dialogue,” Baker said regarding a lack of response from the lawmakers he sent his letter to, the Times reported, “but they think they’ve got the moral high ground here and they intend to just push this through.”

British scientist and former physician Andrew Wakefield also encouraged continued fighting against SB 277 at Life Chiropractic College West (LCCW) on Friday according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Wakefield was the author of debunked research that suggested, although inconclusively, a link between autism and vaccinations reported the Chronicle.

Wakefiled told the hundreds of students gathered to be the “pitchforks and torches” protesting the bill in Sacramento. Wakefield suggested that the bill could be a step on the way to more pervasive, rights-infringing adult vaccination requirements.

Vaccine proponent lashed out against Wakefield, blaming him for potentially long-term side effects experienced in a friend’s child from measles. “That is Andrew Wakefield’s fault,” she said according to the Chronicle.

LCCW President Brian Kelly reportedly told the crowd gathered to listen to Wakefield Friday that he was considering cancelling classes and bussing students in to the Capitol to attend the next hearing for the bill. Kelly said it wouldn’t be a protest effort.

Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana


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