It's back. Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz (D-Riverdale, Bronx) has re-introduced his bill to repeal the religious exemption from vaccine mandates to attend school, but now with the blessing of the New York Times. Dinowitz's new Assembly Bill A2371 is nothing more than a vehicle to discriminate against religious minorities whose beliefs Dinowitz does not share while improving sales for a favored industry, and does nothing to improve public health. It does significantly increase the control the vaccine industry has over healthcare decisions that should be made by individuals for themselves, and by parents for minor children. For the past 3 sessions Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Westside of Midtown) has introduced the required companion bill in the State Senate, that bill has not been introduced yet, but we expect it quite soon.
Please click on the Take Action Link to send a message to your Assemblymember stating your opposition to A2371.
And please call Dinowitz's offices in Albany and the Bronx and politely let them know you oppose their bills:
Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz, Albany (518) 455-5965, Bronx (718) 796-0694
And please call the two co-sponsors of the bill and politely ask them to reconsider:
Deborah Glick (518) 455-4841
Diane Richardson (518) 455-5262
Vaccination for many people is a violation of their religious beliefs, a fact that New York law has recognized and respected since vaccines were made mandatory to attend school. There are Mennonite Schools in New York where no students are vaccinated. Jehovah's Witnesses believe that vaccination should be the choice of the individual. Many Christian Scientists do not vaccinate. Many Orthodox Jews have issues with vaccination. Other religious groups, including the Roman Catholic Church, have issues with the vaccines cultured on aborted fetal tissue. Others people object to pork and beef products that are contained in some vaccines. New York has a long and rich tradition of religious tolerance, A2371 rejects this proud and wildly successful history.
New York law clearly says, however, that affiliation with a religious group is irrelevant to a person's own religious beliefs, that is for each individual to decide, but A2371 assaults the First Amendment rights of all New Yorkers. It isn't the place of Dinowitz to make healthcare decisions for all New Yorkers, or interfere in the longstanding beliefs of religious minorities. America was founded expressly to protect those rights.
These bills are radically outside prevailing practice in the United States where 47 states allow religious exemptions. Eighteen states, including Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota, Texas, and a dozen others allow exemptions for any reason. The overwhelming majority of developed democracies in the world allow parents the final say in what is injected into their children, including Canada, Japan, Ireland, the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland, etc.
There is no evidence that religious exemptions in New York are a barrier to achieving "herd immunity" or increase disease rates. Nor has Dinowitz attempted to show how the fewer than 1% of New York students who have religious exemptions compromises public health.
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