The life and liberty-despising state of New York has just dealt its citizens another draconian blow.
After a long, hard fight, families in New York who refuse some or all vaccinations due to sincere religious beliefs have lost their right to send their children to public school unless they submit to the vaccine schedule that is required by law.
Under previous state law, “children whose parent, parents, or guardian holds genuine and sincere religious beliefs” that prohibit them from vaccinating were able to attend daycares and public or private schools if their parents filled out a form or wrote a letter to the district claiming the religious exemption.
The Assembly bill to repeal the exemption clause to vaccine mandates limped through the legislative process initially, but was pushed through to the floor at the last minute when Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie intervened in a committee vote that would have killed the bill.
In other words, were it not for some seriously questionable meddling, the bill would never have gone to the Assembly floor where the Democrat majority would pass it.
Just before the Assembly debate on the bill began, Julie O’Shea, a Nassau County mother of two children with religious exemptions, watched alongside several others from the balcony.
“I think it’s not the place of the state to tell us what to do with our bodies. They’re pro-choice when it comes to killing babies, which I think is morally reprehensible. But why can’t we do what is right for our children who are not actually sick?” O’Shea told Buffalo News.
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, a Democrat and the bill’s primary sponsor, repeatedly made reference to parents who are “anti-science” and regurgitated the same fallacious arguments that vaccines offer virtually complete protection from targeted diseases and that unvaccinated children are certain carriers of harmful bacteria and viruses.
Kenneth Zebrowski, Dinowitz’ co-sponsor, a fellow Democrat and representative of Rockland County which was hit with a barrage of mild-to-moderate measles cases earlier in the year, attempted to evoke fear in the minds of listeners with anecdotes of exposure to measles in public places like Home Depot.
Of course, neither of these men or their fellow repeal-voters considered the arguments that vaccines are not 100% effective, unvaccinated children are not automatically carriers, and unvaccinated people will still go to Home Depot even if they’re banned from public schools.
New York families weren’t totally without an advocate, however, as most Republicans and a handful of impassioned Democrats expressed their stern opposition to this gross overstep by the state.
Assemblyman Thomas J. Abinanti was one of several legislators who argued in staunch opposition to limiting the free exercise of religion, particularly the fact that no clear link between the religious exemption and outbreaks of infectious disease could be proven.
In a speech given on the Assembly floor, Rep. Abinanti said:
This is about whether someone can say, “my body is inviolate. I believe that, deeply and fervently, my body is inviolate and you don’t have, as a government, the right to take that right away.”
It’s about our implementation of the First Amendment, through the Fourteenth Amendment, where we as a state have an obligation to treat everyone equally without discrimination. It’s about whether we’re going to tell school districts that they have carte blanche authority to withhold from certain individual students the right to be educated alongside others because of their religious beliefs.
Rep. Abinanti proceeded to argue that a significant state interest to remove the exemption had not been demonstrated:
One of my colleagues made the very valid point that we do have a right to impinge on different people’s constitutional rights. But, to do that, there must be a compelling state interest, and I want to respectfully suggest that that compelling state interest cannot just be some theoretical belief that we’d be better off one way than another; that we have to demonstrate that right now, the exercise of that religious belief is affecting public health.
And this bill, no matter how well-meaning it is, is based on the erroneous assumption that the exercise of some 20,000 people in our state (or maybe 25,000 people) of their religious belief, when it comes to the violation of their right, is somehow endangering the public space—is somehow endangering the public.
Abinanti, one of the few Democrats who opposed the bill, concluded that New York should not head down a slippery slope based on the false pretense that people with religious exemptions were somehow responsible for the state’s measles outbreaks.
“New York should not be a leader in taking away rights of minorities. The public has to understand that in a democracy we protect everybody’s rights and we should not be using excuses to diminish the rights of minorities,” Abinati said.
Now, following the passage of the repeal, unfortunately, families who refuse to vaccinate in New York will be forced to homeschool or leave the state. While these are both great choices, no family should be forced to make them, especially single parents and families who simply cannot afford to move.
Please be in prayer for the families of New York.
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