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Action Alert
Video: NY Speaker Heastie intervenes to throw vote to repeal religious exemptions
Next Steps: RFKJ and team of lawyers will be filing suits soon

   As you all know, we lost our right to a religious exemption from vaccine mandates to attend school in New York.  Our elected officials decided to discard a fundamental human right we have always had, and 44 other states continue to have, when the Assembly voted 84 to 66 to pass Jeffery Dinowitz’s Assembly Bill A2371a, and the Senate voted 36 to 26 to pass Brad Hoylman’s Senate Bill S2994. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bills within hours of the floor votes.

    In a display of Albany at its worst, Speaker of the Assembly Carl Heastie intervened in a meeting of the Assembly Health Committee on Thursday morning when a first vote resulted in a 13-13 tie, which according to the rules of the Committee should have resulted in the bill being defeated. Heastie can be seen giving instructions to Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried, and calling over freshman, and junior member of the committee, Assemblymember Nader Sayegh, after which Sayegh changed his “no” vote to a “yes,” allowing the bill to go to the floor where Heastie knew he could twist enough arms to get the result he wanted. You can see the events play out in this video starting at 42:00 mark.


    If you disagree with Speaker Heastie’s action, please call Speaker Heastie’s office and politely let the staffer know.

     Speaker of the Assembly Carl Heastie (518) 455-3791

     And please click on the Take Action Link to send Speaker Heastie an email expressing your displeasure with his actions. 

     The new law applies to all schools; public, private, parochial, and charter, including daycare, pre-k, kindergarten, and K-12. All students will be required to get the required shots by June 20 of 2020. We hope to have an analysis of the very confusing language of the bill shorlty.

Next Steps

We are not giving up. We are not moving to Texas. And we are not vaccinating our kids.

These are our next steps:

  • Robert F, Kennedy, Jr. and Children’s Health Defense has assembled a team of lawyers who are analyzing how besty to attack the repeal on civil rights and other grounds. We expect suits to be filled shortly. Please support the legal action by donating here:


  • Students with IEPS and 504 plans still have a right to those services regardless of whether they are allowed to attend school or not.  We are working on plans to assist parents in fighting for their children’s right to a free and appropriate public education
  • We will be fighting to reform New York’s incredibly restrictive medical exemption laws. Across the US the average rate of students with medical exemptions is 1% to 2%. In New York it is less than 1/10th of  1%. Thousands of parents across the state have had the experience of a physician telling them that their child should never get another vaccine, and then told to go get a religious exemption because the doctor is afraid to write a medical exemption. Fortunately, Senate Health Committee Chair Gustavo Rivera has a bill to correct this problem, Senate Bill S477, and we will be pushing hard to pass this before June 20, 2020.
  • And we will be fighting to stop the existing New York bills to make Gardasil and annual flu shots  mandatory in New York, and bills to allow vaccines without parental knowledge or consent.

     A truism of New York politics is that all the power rests with. “three guys in a room.” Now slightly modified to “two guys and a woman in a room.” The three being Governor Andrew Cuomo, Speaker of the Assembly Carl Heastie, and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins.  Beginning several weeks ago the three started putting heavy pressure on the legislators to pass these bills.

    A measles outbreak here in New York was used as a pretext to take away our rights. We have had around 700 measles cases since last September in a state of 20 million. The outbreak was almost exclusively confined to three insular Hasidic Jewish commmunities in Brooklyn and Rockland County. And it appears the outbreak is over, New York City, where the vast majority of the cases were reported, is reporting only 5 cases of mealses so far in June. 

     We were told by legislators and staffers time and time again that they have never received the volume of letters, documents, emails, office visits and telephone calls as they have on this bill. Legislators from all parts of the state said the overwhelming majority of communications they received opposed the bill. Staffers in the office of a member at the highest level of leadership in the Assembly said they could not recall any  communications in favor of the bill. You did everything possible to defeat this bill.  As Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” And this is far from over.


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