The online Advocacy Portal launched by the National Vaccine Information Center in November 2010 is helping Americans organize and fight to protect the integrity of the medical, religious and conscientious belief exemptions to vaccination in state health laws. In two states - Washington and New Jersey – well heeled and politically influential medical trade organizations promoting forced vaccination, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), have joined with government health officials and pharmaceutical companies to put the squeeze on state legislators to take away or severely limit the ability of citizens to make voluntary vaccine choices.
The Advocacy Portal at www.NVICAdvocacy.org is a unique interactive online education and communication tool created by Dawn Richardson, NVIC’s director of advocacy, and is provided as a free public service for all Americans to keep up to date and learn how to counteract coordinated, serious attacks on state vaccine exemptions. In the past several months, NVIC has worked with families using the Advocacy Portal in both states to help them voice legitimate concerns about medical personnel inside and outside of government, who are aggressively taking steps to force all citizens to use an ever-increasing number of vaccines.
WASHINGTON: Nearly 100 Try to Testify on March 9
On Feb. 13, 2011 NVIC sounded an alarm
that legislation was being rammed through the Washington state legislature that would require parents to get a doctor, nurse or other designated medical personnel to sign a religious or philosophical belief exemption to vaccination for their child stating that the parents have been fully informed about the benefits and risks of vaccination.
Bill Will Force Families Into “Medical Homes” & Block Vaccine Choices
The Senate bill (SB5005), which was introduced by state Sen. Karen Keiser (D-33rd District) and has 11 sponsors, and the House bill (HB1015), which was introduced by state Rep. Barbara Bailey (R-10th District) and has 16 sponsors, enjoys the strong backing of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Washington State Nurses Association, state public health officials and other trade organizations representing medical personnel, who are seeking to force families into “medical homes” and reduce the numbers of non-medical vaccine exemptions in the state of Washington.
Nearly 100 Came to Olympia To Object & Testify
After quickly organizing Washington state residents signed up as users of the Advocacy Portal, Dawn Richardson scheduled an educational webinar to help families in Washington prepare to give testimony at a hearing on the Senate version of the bill in the House Health and Wellness Committee. On March 9, nearly 100 mothers, fathers, and grandparents, babies and children came from all over the state to Olympia to send a clear message to legislators that they did not want to be required to get a medical worker’s signature in order to file and receive a non-medical religious or philosophical exemption to vaccination.
Rep. Eileen Cody, RN Cuts Off Oral Testimony
Some 65 citizens, many wearing “No SB5005” stickers on their shoulders, signed in to give prepared testimony opposing the legislation. However, the Committee chair and bill sponsor, Rep. Eileen Cody, RN (D-34th District), without advance warning abruptly cut off the testimony after only representatives from NVIC, the Christian Homeschool Network and a handful of parents had testified.
After Rep. Cody barred further testimony by Washington state constituents, who had come a long way to participate in the democratic process, families gathered outside and vowed to fight on. Many of the parents and principled health professionals showing up to defend the right to voluntary, informed consent to vaccination walked directly to the offices of their representatives to protest the injustice while others, who had traveled a long way with small children, had to head home.
Powerful Written Testimony Tells the Story
Here are excerpts of written testimony submitted to the Committee after the March 9 hearing, where so many were turned away and prevented from giving oral testimony:
“Thank you for reading my views on SB5005/HB1015. Last week I was present at the hearing about the bill that touched the sensibilities of a swatch of backgrounds of people: men, women, teens and children. Even though it was not convenient to wait in the crowded hearing room with fidgety infants and toddlers, waiting to give testimony and be heard, they did. Even when it became evident so few would be allowed to give testimony against the bill to the Committee, they still waited and patiently showed opposition.
“Parents are used to waiting but, mostly, they want to be heard. Parents love their children and want the best for them. Parents need to be respected by the state without interference by the state to make conscientious health care decisions in their child’s best interests….while most states don’t place restrictions on obtaining religious or philosophical exemptions, some states required religious or philosophical exemption forms to be notarized before being submitted. NO state requires a medical practitioner’s signature to validate a religious or philosophical exemption, only to validate a medical exemption.”
Naturopathic Doctor Worried About Reprisals
A Naturopathic doctor wrote: “PLEASE oppose SB5005…With most MD’s being unthinkingly pro-immunization, a requirement to get their physician to approve of an exemption will make it well-nigh impossible for many people to have a choice in whether their infants will be immunized, making it a de-facto forced immunization program. This is a social justice issue and will especially affect low-income people. Additionally, it will predictably lead to reprisals against the physicians who DO approve exemptions for their patients.”
Parent of Vaccine Injury Child Reported for Child Neglect
A parent of a vaccine injured child wrote “As a parent of a child, who suffered an adverse reaction to a series of vaccinations and won a settlement from the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Program, I am concerned about SB2005 and HB1015 being passed into law and violating our First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment….do not let some doctor, who will only see [a] child for 15 minutes impose their will and make decisions for our [children],,,,despite my having extensive medical records from six doctors running tests over a course of almost two and a half years and determining my son’s medical problems were vaccine-related, I was turned into Child Protective Services for neglect on the grounds I was not meeting my son’s medical needs…..I can only imagine the horror SB5005 and HB1015 would unleash on parents who attempt to make an educated decision about their child’s health….As life continued for my vaccine injured son, I received repeated phone calls from the schools he attended insisting he be caught up on the vaccine schedules they wished to impose. They were not interested in the MEDICAL WAIVER in his file! I urge you not to take away our right to informed consent.”
Public Health Dentist Says ”Do No Harm”
A public health dentist wrote” “I support health education….if the Department of Health wants health education, they can do it without legislation. The intent of SB5005 and HB1015 is to set up a road block rather than health education and informed consent for good parental decisions and ownership of the decision. Good scientists are humble and do not create obstacles for informed consent and patient rights with freedom of choice….we must be cautious and do no harm…health education can be done without strong-arming the public and causing them additional expense.”
Mom Paralyzed by OPV Harassed For Protecting Her Child
A mother, who received federal vaccine injury compensation after she was paralyzed by vaccine strain polio following the vaccination of her 11 week old daughter with live oral polio vaccine (OPV) in 1993, describes her daughter’s vaccine reactions and harassment by angry doctors insisting she ignore those reactions and keep vaccinating:
“I continued her vaccinations through the Health Department because I was tired of the doctors’ opinions. A doctor told me not to come back because of my opinion of giving her vaccinations slowly over time and not by the schedule…by her third DPT shot, her fevers would be 105 degrees…also it happened with her first MMR shot. I signed the personal exemption, which is my right as a mother and under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Without a personal exemption to use, we would have been in trouble because no doctor would have signed it with just high fevers as a reaction. I was not waiting until she was in a hospital like I was! I did not make my decisions based on convenience. It took years of thoughtful research and for anyone to think differently is insulting and absurd. This bill basically eliminates the religious and personal exemption by requiring a medical practitioner’s signature. I personally never met a doctor that would sign!”
AAPS: Medical Practitioners Afraid of Sanctions
The executive director of the Association for American Physicians & Surgeons (AAPS) wrote, “Parents have the right to decline immunizations, just as they have the right to decline other medical interventions. We support the philosophical and religious exemption….Forcing parents to obtain a medical practitioner’s signature places a significant burden on their ability to exercise their rights. There is always a cost and a significant inconvenience. It may actually be difficult to find a medical practitioner, who is willing to sign a statement owing to fears, justified or otherwise, of liability or of sanctions by a licensure board.”
Nurse Told Parent She Could Go to Jail for Not Vaccinating Child
An holistic health care provider wrote “I have had parents crying in my office after being coerced by their pediatrician to vaccinate when they had made up their minds not to and the child has had a serious and permanent reaction to a vaccine. Children are injured and sometimes killed by vaccines. Who steps up and assumes responsibility? Not the pediatrician and not the pharmaceutical companies. The parents are stuck with the financial responsibility….the medical provider is not going to give a true informed consent discussion as they are sometimes less informed than the parents. I had an employee told by a nurse that she could go to jail for not vaccinating her child. This is not an isolated incident; I hear these stories all the time. Leave it alone. Just vote no!”
CLICK HERE to watch a video of the March 9 House hearing.
WA Parents Come Back to Testify Again on March 17
Another hearing on the legislation was held a week later, on March 17, in the Senate Health and Long-Term Care Committee chaired by one of the bill’s sponsors Karen Keiser (D-33rd District). This time, two pre-set panels were created to represent those in support of and those opposed to the bill. Those testifying in support of the bill included the same alliance of medical trade associations representing medical workers administering vaccines and aggressively promoting mandatory vaccination: American Academy of Pediatrics; state nurses associations, and state public health officials.
Father of Child Who Died After Hep B Vaccination: Follow the Money
Michael Belkin, whose infant daughter, Lyla Rose, died in 1998 within 16 hours of being given a hepatitis B vaccination, was allowed to give oral testimony. He pointed out to the committee that there is “another side” to the story and that vaccines carry the risk of brain inflammation (encephalitis) and there are commercial interests involved in support of vaccine mandates.
“I’d like to read you the definition of a vaccine adverse reaction from the largest selling medical textbook in America, the Merck Manual: ‘Encephalitis can occur in the following ways….a virus or a vaccine triggers a reaction that makes the immune system attack brain tissue, an autoimmune reaction.’ So the truth of the matter is, there are risks to vaccination.
“Behind all these doctors, there is an American Academy of Pediatrics and there is a pharmaceutical industry, which is losing patent protection on 125 billion dollars of blockbuster drugs, such as Lipitor. They plan to grow the vaccine business, which is a 25 billion dollar business. There are 140 new vaccines in development and they want to use YOU as their marketing department. Think about it - are any of you in business or have you been in business - if you could use the government to require people to buy your products?
“This bill for me personally would be such a terrible intrusion – to have to listen to some doctor’s propaganda about how great vaccines are when I have been to every CDC and FDA and Institute of Medicine meeting and I have seen the process. The process for vaccine safety is fundamentally broken and these doctors would rather kick me out of their office than sign the form. If you do not vaccinate, they will tell you to get out of their practice. That is the real world. It’s not that you just go to a doctor and they will sign this form. They will not sign this form – flat out – they will kick you out of their practice.”
Educated Mother of Three: Bill is Insulting and Degrading
A college graduate, former corporate manager and full time mother of three, talked about her vaccine injured daughter suffering with a severe neurological disorder. She defended her educated decision not to vaccinate her children and explained why the bill would violate her parental rights to protect her children from harm:
“Since [my daughter’s] diagnosis, I have made it my mission to educate myself to the “nth” degree about vaccination. This bill insinuates that parents, who vaccinate, are somehow more informed than parents who don’t when, in reality, this could not be further from the truth. I am not ignorant. I did not come to the decision to not vaccinate my children flippantly, lazily or out of convenience. My decision came from years of research, thoughtful consideration of the data I found, asking hard questions and making solid choices for the welfare of my children.
“This bill implies that I am reckless, irresponsible and uninformed when, in fact, it is the complete opposite. This insinuation is insulting and degrading. It is more likely that those who choose not to vaccinate are more informed about the ingredients, the dangers, the side effects and the impact on society than those who do vaccinate.
“I do not take my kids for well child check-ups. If they are well, there is no need to take them in. But this bill requires me to pay to go to a medical practitioner and have him or her review the risks, of which I am already thoroughly aware, only to possibly have him or her not sign the form at all. This puts the practitioner in the place to be judge and jury over my parental rights and gives him or her the final say as to whether my religious or philosophical beliefs are, indeed, valid. This is absolutely, unequivocally morally wrong and violates our First Amendment.
“Let me tell you, I am a cancer survivor. At the age of two, I was diagnosed with a rare kidney cancer. My parents researched, asked the hard questions and educated themselves about the best possible decision to make for their daughter. They thought outside the box, much like I do today. They denied chemotherapy and radiation and put me on a strict vitamin and nutrition program. They did not go with what the doctors told them to do and here I am – 30 years later – and still cancer free.
“I tell you this story not only because this bill is a vaccine issue, but because it is a parental rights issue. I demand of you to respect and protect the same rights that my parents had 30 years ago. I vehemently urge you to oppose this bill and uphold my rights and the rights of others to make the informed, conscientious decisions we deem right for our children.”
CLICK HERE to listen to the audio podcast of the March 17 House hearing.
CLICK HERE to read a media report about the bill.
ACTION NEEDED: Sign up for the Advocacy Portal at www.NVICAdvocacy.org and find out how you can IMMEDIATELY contact your WA state representatives to protect your right to make voluntary vaccine choices.
NEW JERSEY: Parents Pack Hearing Room on March 7
On March 7, 2011, in a standing-room only NJ Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee meeting, a bill (A243) to allow New Jersey residents to exercise conscientious belief exemption to vaccination was debated before a hostile physician/attorney committee chairman, Assemblyman Herb Conaway, Jr., M.D. (D-7th District).More than 40 parents showed up to testify in support of the bill.
Dr. Conaway Cuts off Parents & Bill Sponsor
However, Dr. Conaway only allowed testimony of 1 ½ minutes per person and, according to first hand reports, “was very rude in cutting people off,” including cutting off the testimony of the bill’s primary sponsor, Assemblywoman Charlotte Vandervalk (R-39th District). Assemblywoman Vandervalk was former chair of the Health Committee.
Big Pharma Owns New Jersey
NVIC has worked with parents in New Jersey since the 1980’s to educate residents about vaccine safety and informed consent issues. The New Jersey conscientious belief exemption legislation, which was first introduced in the mid-1990’s, has been gaining more support in a state where pharmaceutical companies like Merck, Sanofi Aventis, Novartis, Pfizer, and American Cyanamid have a stronghold.
Dr. Deborah Ginsburg testified in support of the bill and was quoted as saying she was “very concerned about the trends that point towards a reduction of parental rights when it comes to mandatory vaccination” while Dr. Conaway adamantly maintained that allowing a conscientious belief exemption “was a recipe for chaos.” There are currently 18 states that allow a philosophical or conscientious belief exemption to vaccination.
Dr. Conaway Refuses to Allow a Vote
Sue Collins, co-founder of the New Jersey Alliance for Informed Choice in Vaccination in 1999 and an NVIC Advocacy Portal leader for New Jersey, testified at the hearing. “I hear from parents daily and they are frustrated. They feel pressured and bullied….This bill has been sitting in this committee for over seven years. It is time to move this forward and permit a vote in the full Assembly.”
Dr. Conaway refused to allow the health committee to take a vote and the conscientious belief exemption bill, which has five primary sponsors and 18 co-sponsors, remains stuck in the committee. CLICK HERE to listen to the audio podcast of the hearing.
Religious Exemption Under Attack in NJ
In a NJ Senate Health Committee meeting on March 14, a bill (S2625) sponsored by two state Senators - Loretta Weinberg (D-37th District) and Joseph Vitale (D-19th District) - was debated that would require parents to write a statement “explaining how the administration of the vaccine conflicts with the bona fide religious tenets or practices of the student.” An identical bill (A3836) has also been introduced in the Assembly by Dr. Conaway, who is the sole sponsor of the bill in the Assembly.
Bill Violates NJ Constitution
The bill language directly contradicts Article 1 of the New Jersey Constitution, which states that “No person shall be deprived of the inestimable privilege of worshipping Almighty God in a manner agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience.”
Again, parents showed up to testify – this time against an unconstitutional bill that violates First Amendment rights and opens the door for discrimination and harassment of parents by school and other government officials, who will act as religious inquisitors and sit in judgment of the religious beliefs of fellow citizens. Senator Weinberg was quoted as saying “The overall aim of this bill is to get children immunized.” The Executive Director of the NJ American Academy of Pediatrics said that it is a public health issue when a parent chooses not to vaccinate, putting all of society at risk.
Attorney Claudine Liss questioned the constitutionality of the legislative language if the words “bona fide” remain in the bill. Sue Collins agreed that the language would open the door for lawsuits against the state.
The committee voted 6 to 1 with one abstention to approve the bill and it is headed for a Senate floor vote. Afterwards, Sue Collins told families, “This is going to be a battle and it is going to be long and we must remain diligent and involved. Nothing is more important than our right to protect our children.”
CLICK HERE to listen to the audio podcast of the March 14 meeting.
ACTION NEEDED: Sign up for the Advocacy Portal at www.NVICAdvocacy.org and stay up to date on where these bills are in the NJ state legislative process and how you can work with YOUR state legislators to protect your right to make vaccine choices
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