New Jersey’s New Vaccine Bill Attempts to Remove Religious Exemption

Thursday, April 5th 2018 in Trenton, New Jersey, hundreds of people, including doctors, parents, siblings, and relatives, showed up for the Assembly Health Committee hearing to oppose Assembly bill A3818 – a proposed piece of legislation that would make it incredibly difficult for parents to obtain a religious exemption for their children.

Hundreds of people provided heartfelt, emotional, legally and scientifically compelling testimonies. Included in these testimonies were parents of severely vaccine damaged children, vaccine-killed children (such as Robin Stavola’s daughter Holly and Nick Catone’s son Nicholas), among other informed, concerned citizens.

Despite four hours of professional, emotional, cogent testimonies, in an incredible display of avarice, callous disregard, and corruption, the Health Committee voted to move the bill forward. On the bright side – the collective educational efforts were sufficient to provide 3 committee members the courage to voice their “NO” vote, and 3 members were not present. The bill passed with 7 votes – just enough. The next step could be an assembly floor vote later next week.

Abhorrent display of corruption in Trenton

It was apparent that most of the Committee members had previously decided their votes, and their behavior during the testimonies seemed to indicate a total emotional detachment and lack of concern. Some members admitted that they hadn’t even read the bill!

In response to this display of corruption, activists shouted down the Assembly members in defiance of this blatant disregard for the truth. Vocalization of displeasure is certainly warranted in times such as these, and can often convey the personal importance of the issue to legislators. Recall the public’s response to mandatory vaccination in Italy was one of righteous indignation and street protests.

Ironically, this religiously intrusive bill was added to the agenda in a very secretive, unscrupulous manner – posted the night before Good Friday, just prior to a major religious holiday for millions of people. The bill was scheduled to be heard on Thursday, April 5th, only 4 working days subsequent to posting, which was technically unlawful, as the legislature must provide at least 5 days’ notice to the public. Further, the bill sponsor’s staff lied to numerous activists who called in the days immediately preceding the hearing, asserting that the bill would not be voted on.

Regardless of these deceptive procedural tactics, hundreds of concerned citizens prepared written and oral testimonies, and called and emailed all members of the Assembly Health Committee.

What does this bill attempt to do? And what’s wrong with it?

The bill itself is replete with constitutional issues. It would require an applicant to sign and notarize a statement concerning the following:

  1. How the applicant’s religious practices or tenets specifically contradict or are inconsistent with vaccination; and, that these religious tenets are not an expression of one’s moral, philosophical, sociological views, or concerns about vaccine safety and efficacy;
  2. Information providing evidence that the religious beliefs are consistently held;
  3. A statement that the person understands the risks and benefits of vaccination and to the public health, and that one’s religious exemption could be suspended in the event of an event, or threat, of communicable disease; and,
  4. A signed statement from a physician that the person has received counseling on the risks and benefits of vaccination to the person and to the public health (only in the Statement of the Senate version of the bill; not in the Assembly bill)

The bill’s language violates the first amendment religious free exercise clause, the first amendment freedom of speech, and the fourteenth amendment due process right to parent one’s children. The government cannot attempt to separate religious beliefs from moral views or safety concerns associated with vaccines, as these beliefs can be predicated upon one’s interpretation of one’s faith. Further, the State cannot force an individual to agree with their opinion on the risks and benefits of vaccination as well as the risks to public health! Moreover, this presumes that all parents are unfit to parent (i.e., the government knows better), which is unconstitutional.

The supposed justification for this bill is that there are “gaps in vaccination that cause outbreaks” and the associated “risk to public health” – both uncorroborated assertions.

  • The New Jersey vaccination rate has risen 5.9% over the past three years – up 94.4% now, and potentially higher (due to some students with an unknown status). So, what is the impetus for the bill? The existing religious exemption has not decreased rates.
  • The risk of unvaccinated individuals to public health is unsupported in the medical literature. There are routinely infectious disease outbreaks in fully vaccinated populations globally, demonstrating vaccines’ inherent lack of effectiveness. Furthermore, vaccinated individuals can pose greater risks to public health due to immunosuppression and associated increased susceptibility to infection!

What can you do to help?

  1. What New Jersey needs right now is nationwide support to aid in stopping the progression of this bill! Continue educating others about the risks of vaccines!
  2. For NJ residents: Call and email New Jersey legislators (Assembly members specifically) to express your opposition to this bill (A3818), for the reasons stated in the aforementioned paragraphs.

With the truth on our side, we will prevail!

About the author

Tom Stavola