Three mothers are suing California for taking away religious exemptions on vaccine requirements, claiming their First Amendment rights are being violated.
The plaintiffs cite several reasons for not wanting to vaccinate their children, including vaccines’ use of aborted fetal cells. Some of the plaintiffs’ children also had severe reactions to the vaccines they did receive.
Now, because of their sincere religious beliefs, these families say they can no longer send their children to school.
“People of faith should never be discriminated against through legislation,” said Mariah Gondeiro, vice president of Advocates for Faith and Freedom, which is representing the plaintiffs. “We are standing up for parents of all faith backgrounds who want access to a quality education and medical autonomy over their children.”
The lawsuit cites the inflammatory rhetoric of former state Sen. Richard Pan, who co-sponsored the law after a measles outbreak in Disneyland.
Pan stated on social media that people who “opt out of vaccines should be opted out of American society.”
His co-sponsor, Sen. Ben Allen, also said that “the high number of unvaccinated students is jeopardizing public health not only in schools but in the broader community.”
However, the plaintiffs argue California’s stance is hypocritical, as the state provides exemptions for immigrants, homeless youth, special needs students, and for medical reasons.
“California cannot demonstrate that religiously exempt students pose a greater risk than secularly exempt students,” the lawsuit says. “[The law] burdens Plaintiffs because it forces them to forego their religious beliefs to receive a public or private education.”
Additionally, researchers estimate the law only reduced the number of exemptions by 0.49%.
Meanwhile, critics say in other areas, California’s concern for students’ safety and public health has reached a new low
Gov. Gavin Newsom recently signed a new law prohibiting schools from suspending students for “willful defiance” – effectively sanctioning such negative behavior, raising major safety concerns.
“This bill undercuts both teacher and administrative authority in the schools,” education expert and Fordham Institute policy associate Daniel Buck told The Center Square. “It communicates to students condescendingly low expectations – that we cannot expect any kid to provide a basic level of respect for adults.
“All this is going to accomplish is sowing chaos, violence, bullying and other such disorder in schools.”