Parent Groups Support New Texas Law
"Protecting the health and informed consent rights of children since 1982."
For immediate release
July 8, 2003
PARENT GROUPS SUPPORT NEW TEXAS VACCINE EXEMPTION LAW
The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) and Americans for Vaccine Safety and Accountability (AVSA) are joining with the Texas-based parent organization, Parents Requesting Open Vaccine Education (PROVE), in voicing strong support for the new Texas vaccine exemption law. The new law allows parents to exercise a conscientious belief exemption to vaccination. Together, all three organizations represent more than 200,000 Americans committed to defending the informed consent rights of citizens to make voluntary health care choices when there is a risk of injury or death.
Parent and health care professional groups are responding to last week's outcry by Texas pediatricians and public health officials, who criticized passage of the new vaccine exemption in House Bill 2292, which was signed into law by Governor Rick Perry. NVIC President Barbara Loe Fisher said "Texas is joining 18 other states which allow this kind of vaccine exemption, including every state bordering Texas. These other states are not having raging epidemics of disease just because they respect a parent's right to make educated choices about the benefits and risks of vaccination for their children. It is a basic human right to be able to voluntarily decide what you are willing to risk your life or your child's life for and Texas should be proud to be among the enlightened states which recognize this simple moral fact."
Terry Rondberg, D.C., president of the World Chiropractic Alliance (WCA), which is a member of the lobbying coalition, AVSA, said "Pediatricians should be welcoming the opportunity to have open dialogue with parents about vaccination so they can be partners, not adversaries, with parents in making these important health decisions. No one should be forced to take a health care risk they don't want to take. Only when you own a decision that involves a risk can you take responsibility for it."
Dawn Richardson, president of PROVE, who back grounded Texas legislators for seven years about the importance of parental rights and informed consent to vaccination, said "At a time when physicians and vaccine manufacturers have lobbied so hard for further release of liability for the harm they sometimes do, parents in Texas are grateful to the legislators who have given them back control over which vaccine risks their child will take. I was excited to receive a letter from Speaker of the House Tom Craddick, after the Governor signed the exemption into law stressing the legislature's strong support for parental rights."
The Speaker's letter said in part, "This exemption should assist parents who are subjected to any harassment at schools and day care facilities since a signed notarized exemption form will not be disputable by officials…an additional provision in HB 2292 prohibits any health and human services agency from taking punitive action against a parent for not immunizing their child. Thus, parental decisions will be protected and respected in the future on this issue."
The Texas legislature joins with the Arkansas legislature this past session in providing parents with the right to conscientious or philosophical belief exemption to vaccination. Internationally, there is also acknowledgement of the importance of voluntary vaccination decision-making. Last month the British Medical Association released a report which stated, "Parents have a right to receive unbiased information so that they can make an informed choice with regard to vaccination of their children….Public health policies depend on social consensus. The UK government currently recommends a national immunization schedule which is not compulsory…. we do not believe that compulsory immunization is in any way appropriate for the UK but that healthcare professionals should strive to inform, educate and advise the public about the overwhelming benefits of vaccination for their children and society in general." That report also noted that "across Europe the trend has been toward greater voluntary participation."
NVIC is a national, non-profit organization founded by parents of vaccine injured children in 1982. It is the oldest and largest parent-led vaccine safety group in the US, representing more than 30,000. PROVE is the largest vaccine safety group in Texas, representing more than 3,500. AVSA represents 14 state and national organizations, including NVIC, Autism Society of America, Illinois Vaccine Awareness Coalition, Lyme Disease Foundation, Massachusetts Citizens for Vaccination Choice, Missouri Citizens' Coalition for Freedom in Health Care, Mothering Magazine, New Hampshire Citizens for Health Freedom, Osteomed II, PROVE, Unlocking Autism, Vaccine Awareness of North Florida, Virginia Families for Vaccine Information and Choice and World Chiropractic Alliance (WCA). WCA, a member of AVSA, represents 60,000 doctors of chiropractic nationally and internationally.