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Proposed Legislation to Eliminate Religious Vaccine Exemptions at Odds with Virginia Constitution and U.S. Bill of Rights

Posted by Claire Dwoskin on Nov 2, 2016 5:25:12 PM

In the 2016 session of the General Assembly, Delegates Eileen Filler-Corn (D- Fairfax) and Christopher Stolle (R-Virginia Beach) introduced legislation to eliminate religious and medical exemptions for vaccines so that no child in Virginia could be educated at home or in a public/private school unless he/she received every dose of every state mandated vaccine.  The bill was killed in committee but referred to the Joint Committee on Health Care for study. On November 9, 2016, the Committee will vote in favor of one of nine recommendations that range from no action to full support for re-introducing the legislation.

Virginia’s Vaccine Compliance Rates Are Among the Country’s Highest.

•    Among Virginia’s 100,000 kindergartners, the current rate of vaccine compliance is 94%.
•    Only 1.1% have claimed exemptions: 891 religious; 305 medical.  
•    Virginia ranks in the top 10 states for lowest percentage of vaccine exemptions
•    Reported cases of childhood diseases have decreased 99%-100% over the past century.

Religious freedom was born -- and remains staunchly defended – in Virginia.

•    The Virginia Bill of Rights guaranteeing religious freedom was written by Thomas Jefferson and George Mason and adopted by the Virginia General Assembly in 1779.  It became the basis of the Bill of Rights of the US Constitution in 1789.
•    To paraphrase, it is a violation of the Virginia Constitution for legislators to eliminate one’s legal right to exercise religious or spiritual beliefs according to the dictates of one’s conscience.
•    Some vaccines contain cells from aborted fetuses which offends the religious beliefs and consciences of anti-abortion activists in Virginians.
•    Parental rights and religious liberty advocates throughout the state have launched vigorous campaigns against this legislative effort.

Virginia cannot afford this needless measure:

•    Many protracted and expensive lawsuits are pending in the three states where religious exemptions for vaccines have been eliminated.
•    The cost of promotion, enforcement and legal defense of exemption lawsuits will be significant in light of Virginia’s $1.2 billion budget shortfall.

There is no medical, political or economic need
to eliminate existing vaccine exemptions. And what if advancements in medical technology confirm vaccines to be unsafe?


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