The state Senate in New Jersey brought up a case against hostile parents who were avoiding routine vaccines in school for their children due to their religious beliefs.
Legislatures and the panel voted to discard religion as a reasonable justification to avoid necessary vaccines required for school attendance as it compromises the health of other students.
This case was held up for a long time and after 7 years of undertaking to oblige better vaccine compliance and an unusual reappearance of measles, the legislators decided to put this religious exemption to an end that granted the permission to 14,000 students in New Jersey to avoid their vaccines last year.
The bill against this exemption was approved by Senate Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens Committee. People were outraged by this decision as the measure was taken before the official Monday’s agenda for action by the full 40-member body.
The parents protested outside the Statehouse in Trenton. They were holding up signboards like “My Body My Right” and recited their “Serenity Prayer”. They raised the point that this bill violates their First Amendment right of religious freedom. They pledged to move their children to a different school or some even considered moving to a different state.
The president of the New Jersey chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Alan Weller, said
“Your right to practice religion freely does not include…exposing the community or a child to a communicable disease.” He further added, “we all have a responsibility to protect…children in schools who cannot be vaccinated”.
The main objection of the religious people is because of the fact that the vaccines for measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) comprises of embryonic tissue extracted from aborted fetuses in the 1960s. While others protested saying that they had a firm belief in God who has made up a strong enough immune system for humans.
“I love God with my whole heart,” said 7-year-old Emelia Walls of Cape May. “He made our immune systems perfect. We take really good care of our bodies because that makes God happy.”
Many other students have a similar belief and were not happy with the decision. Emelia, a second-grader, said she would be “heartbroken” if the bill passes as in that case she will have to leave the school.
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The bill is only against religion as an acceptable reason to avoid shots. The exemption would still be given to children for medical reasons. The children will be tested by a qualified physician and the state Health Department would establish which health conditions would be considered to grant an exemption.
The law is currently not enforced, it would be enforced six months after Gov. Phil Murphy signs it if he does. The bill gained the hype in January after a measles viral was all over the news. There have been 19 confirmed cases of measles this year in New Jersey, and 1,276 nationwide.
If the bill gets successfully passed and made effective, New Jersey will become the sixth state to eliminate religious reasons to avoid childhood vaccines. What’s your take on this decision? Tell us about your opinions in the comments section below.