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Parental Rights and Religious Freedom Under Attack in Virginia

Posted by Claire Dwoskin on Jan 27, 2016 1:44:48 PM

URGENT ACTION ALERT: Vaccine Exemptions in Virginia Gutted by HB 1342
Contact State Legislators Immediately


We are requesting your immediate communication with your state legislators to OPPOSE HB 1342 sponsored by Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn(chief patron) and co-sponsored by Delegate Christopher P. Stolle (chief co-patron).   

This terrible bill completely eliminates the religious exemption to state mandated vaccines and significantly restricts the medical exemption as well.  HB 1342 is a major attack on parental and religious rights and medical freedom. HB 1342 needs to be strongly opposed because it discriminates against families and health care providers who don’t agree with every dose of every state mandated vaccine.

We need you to act quickly because the Virginia legislature has a short session. February 16th is the deadline for the bill to cross from the House of Delegates to the Senate, so committee hearings and floor votes in the House of Delegates will all be scheduled before this date. Ideally, we’d like to stop the bill before this crossover date. We need everyone in Virginia to come out strong contacting their legislators to tell them to OPPOSE HB 1342.


  1. VISITCALL, AND EMAIL, your Virginia House Delegate and Senator and ask them to OPPOSE HB 1342ASAP. (You can customize our sample letter suggestions below for your email, and you can present NVIC’s Briefing Paper on OPPOSING HB 1342 when you meet with your legislators

    Find your legislators: 
    Click here and enter your address: register/login to the NVIC Advocacy Portal at  Click on “Check What is Happening in Your State” on the home page or “My State” on the STATE TEAMS Tab.  Your personal state legislators are listed on the right side of the page. Click on the names of your Delegate and Senator to display his/her contact information.

    Prioritize your communication method: 
    In-Person communications are the most effective. Make an appointment to meet with your legislators or their staff in person ASAP. If you can’t meet in person, make a phone appointment right away to discuss with your legislator or their staff assigned to this bill why your family is opposed to HB 1342. EVERYONE should be directly visiting or talking to their legislators or staff on the phone. Additionally, everyone needs to send an email voicing their opposition.  If this issue is important to your family, please make the time for personal direct communication in addition to emailing. It is far more effective and we will need those personal connections and personal stories to stop a bill like this.
  2. Contact Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffeand ask him to OPPOSE HB 1342.

Phone: 804/786-2211 
Email/Communicating with the Governor's Office:  

  1. Contact Members of the House Health, Welfare and Institutions Committeeand ask them to OPPOSE HB 1342.  For Delegate Stolle*, also ask him to withdraw his name from the bill.  

    The bill has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.  We will update the NVIC Advocacy Portal with this information when it becomes available, so check http://NVICAdvocacy.orgoften.

 Contact the Chief Bill Patron, Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn, and ask her to withdraw her bill HB 1342. She can be contacted by email at or by phone at (804)698-1041 or (571)249-3453. 

  1. 6. Please forward any legislative responses you receive or outcomes of meetings on your legislator’s position on the bill to


[Include your return address so your legislators can see you  see you are in their district, and start by introducing yourself and identifying yourself as a constituent.] 

I urge you to OPPOSE HB 1342 because it prohibits me from exercising my freedom of conscience that applies to my religious beliefs and obtaining a religious exemption for my child for one or more state required vaccinations. HB 1342 also prohibits my doctor and nurse practitioner from exercising professional judgment in delaying administration of or granting a medical exemption to my child for one or more vaccinations if the reasons do not conform with federal vaccine contraindication guidelines. It is very important to my family that you do whatever you can to oppose this bill.  

[Explain PERSONALLY why it is important to your family to be able to delay or decline vaccination using the religious or unrestricted medical exemption.  Incorporate any stories of vaccine reactions, harassment, or vaccine failure to personalize your communication.]

HB 1342 should be opposed because:

  1. It is a Violation of Existing State Law Protecting Religious and Parental Rights. HB 1342 violates the spirit and intent of Article 1, Sections 1 and 15-17 of the Bill of Rights of The Virginia Constitution; the Virginia 1786 Act for Religious Freedom; the Virginia 2007 Religious Freedom Actand the Virginia 2013 Parental Rights Act. The bill prevents citizens from exercising freedom of conscience protected in the Virginia Constitution and reaffirmed by subsequent state laws guaranteeing freedom of religion and the fundamental right of a parent to make decisions concerning the upbringing, education and care of the parent’s child. 
  2. It is a Violation of Medical Practice Ethical Standards. HB 1342 violates the Hippocratic Oathand the ethical principle of informed consentto medical risk- taking. The bill would prevent state licensed physicians from working as trusted partners with parents and exercising professional judgment in assessing the health of a minor child and, if determining that a child is unfit for vaccination, being allowed to grant the child a medical exemption when the reason for granting the medical exemption does not strictly conform to narrow federal vaccine contraindication guidelines.
  3. There is No Compelling State Interest. There is no public health emergency or compelling state interest that justifies violating the right to freedom of conscience with the removal of the religious vaccine exemption or restriction of the medical vaccine exemption when Virginia already has: 
  • High Vaccination Rates, Low Vaccine Exemption Rates.In the 2014-2015 school year, the CDC reported an estimated 97.4% of kindergarten children had received five DTaP shots; 93.4% had received two MMR shots and 90.4% had received two varicella zoster shots, while only 305 children had medical vaccine exemptions and 891 had religious vaccine exemptions, one of the highest vaccination rates and lowest vaccine exemption rates (1.1%) in the nation. In addition, the CDC reported that among Virginia children aged 19 to 35 months, 91.5% had at least one dose of MMR and four doses of DTaP vaccines, which equals or exceeds the national average. According to the United Health Foundation, Virginia ranked in the top third of states (#16) with high vaccination rates for recommended doses of DTaP, polio, MMR, HIB, hepatitis B, varicella and pneumococcal vaccines among children 19 to 35 months old.
  • Low Infectious Disease Rates. According to the United Health Foundation, in 2015 Virginia ranked #10 among all states with a low infectious disease rate, including for pertussis. According to the CDC, in 2014 Virginia had a pertussis incidence rate of 6.1 per 100,000 persons (505 pertussis cases), one of the lowest in the nation. According to the CDC, during the past year, Virginia has had fewer than five cases of measlesreported.
  1. Vaccines Carry a Risk of Harm. Vaccines are pharmaceutical products that carry a risk of injury or death, a fact that was acknowledged by the U.S. Congress in 1986 when it passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act. Since 1988, the federal vaccine injury compensation program created under that law has awarded more than $3 billionto children and adults injured by vaccines or to families whose loved ones died from vaccine reactions, although two out of three who apply are denied compensation. The Institute of Medicine in a series of reports on vaccine safety spanning 25 years has acknowledged there is individual susceptibility to vaccine reactionsfor genetic, biological and environmental reasons that have not been fully defined by science, and doctors often cannot predict ahead of time who will be harmed. Long standing gaps in vaccine safety research and emerging evidence that certain vaccines do not prevent infection or transmission of disease, urgently require legal protection of physician’s rights and parental rights regarding medical and religious exemptions to vaccination for minor children.
  2. Vaccine Manufacturers Have No Civil Liability. The 1986 law partially shielded drug companies selling vaccines in the U.S.  from civil liability and, in 2011, the US Supreme Court completelyshielded vaccine manufacturers from liability for FDA licensed and  CDC recommended vaccines. There is no product liability or accountability for pharmaceutical companies marketing federally recommended and state mandated vaccines that injure Americans or cause their death, which makes flexible medical and non-medical vaccine exemptions in vaccine policies and laws the only way Americans can protect themselves and their children from vaccine risks and failures.
  3. Many New Vaccines are Coming. The CDC’s childhood vaccine schedule in 1983was 23 doses of seven vaccines (DPT, MMR, polio) given before age six, and the cost of vaccinating a child with all federally recommended vaccines was $80 per child in a pediatric private practice. That cost has increased to about $2800 per child in 2015because the numbers of federally recommended vaccines for children has increased to 69 doses of 16 vaccines between day of birth and age 18. There are several thousand vaccine clinical trials being conducted, including for infectious and non-infectious diseases such as gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, HIV/AIDS, genital herpes, RSV, strep B, cytomegalovirus, hepatitis C, tuberculosis, e-coli, salmonella, asthma, diabetes, obesity, anti-cocaine and heroin use. Many of these new vaccines in development will be federally recommended for children. 


When there is risk of harm from a pharmaceutical product recommended by government, especially a product that is marketed by companies completely shielded from civil liability, the parent’s right to exercise conscience, religious belief and informed consent on behalf of a minor child must be legally protected. In light of the fact that vaccine risks are not borne equally by all due to known and unknown individual genetic and other biological or environmental susceptibilities, parental rights, as well as those of a state licensed physician or designated vaccine provider to exercise professional judgment in protecting a child from vaccine injury and death, must be preserved in the form of flexible medical and non-medical vaccine exemptions in health policies and laws.

The least restrictive means for ensuring the public health and safety should be employed by the legislature to protect public trust in the wisdom and fairness of government policy and law. There is no public health emergency in Virginia or compelling state interest that justifies the passage of HB1342, which would violate human, civil and parental rights and would never have been condoned by the state’s founding fathers and authors of the Virginia Constitution.

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