The New Jersey legislature is now considering TWO bills that attack religious exemptions to vaccination. S2173 would severely restrict religious exemptions, while A3818 would eliminate them entirely.
Specifically, S2173 requires someone who claims a religious belief exemption to vaccination to sign & notarize a statement with the following:
- How the applicant’s religious practices or tenets specifically contradict or are inconsistent with vaccination; and, that these religious tenets are not solely an expression of one’s moral, philosophical, sociological views, or concerns about vaccine safety and efficacy;
- Evidence that the religious beliefs are consistently held; and
- 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.
A3818 had these same provisions when it was first filed, but it was amended earlier this year so that it would now eliminate religious exemptions entirely.
So there is a high likelihood that S2173 will also be amended to eliminate religious exemptions entirely when it is heard by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee this Thursday, December 12, 2019 at 2:00 PM.
Please see the take action section below and help us to defend the right to religious vaccine exemptions before it’s too late. New York citizens lost their right to religious vaccine exemptions earlier this year…let’s not let it happen to New Jersey!
People should not have to justify their religious beliefs to the government, much less lose them entirely.
Contact your two New Jersey State Assembly Members and Senator and urge them to oppose A3818 and S2173.
You can look up who represents you:
By municipality: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/districts/municipalities.asp
Interactive map: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/districts/njmap210.html
Calls are more effective than emails, and only take a few minutes.
“Hi, my name is ____ and I am a constituent. I am calling to ask State Assembly Member (or Senator)____ to oppose A3818 and S2173. These bills seek to burden people who assert a religious objection to vaccination, or even remove that option entirely.
Discrimination or restriction of religious beliefs is prohibited in the New Jersey Constitution. Yet these bills would force people to try to explain the specifics of their religious beliefs or reject their religious beliefs. S2173 requires individuals to provide evidence about the “consistency” of their beliefs. This sort of questioning of an individuals’ beliefs is intrusive and unconstitutional.
There is no need to make it harder for people to assert religious exemptions to vaccination or to eliminate the religious exemption. Under the current law – which does not intrude on religious beliefs – the New Jersey vaccination rate has risen almost 6% over the past three years, and is currently at 94.4%. The current law is working.
I urge State Assembly Member (or Senator) _____ to oppose A3818 and S2173.”
If you send an email, be sure to personalize it. You may wish to use a couple of the talking points below. Don’t copy all of them – just use them as ideas to help structure your own message.
TALKING POINTS for calls and emails:
- Discrimination or restriction of religious beliefs based on conscience is prohibited in the New Jersey Constitution. Article I, Paragraph 5 states: “No person shall be denied the enjoyment of any civil or military right, nor be discriminated against in the exercise of any civil or military right, nor be segregated in the militia or in the public schools, because of religious principles, race, color, ancestry or national origin.”
- S2173 forces people to not only assert that they have a religious objection to a vaccination, but to explain and prove the specifics of their religious beliefs to the government. Consider the provision that people would have to provide information “that indicates that the religious tenet or practice is consistently held by the person, which may include … expression of the person’s intent to decline any vaccination.” What if someone’s beliefs apply only to vaccination for sexually transmitted diseases? Or if their beliefs include a consideration of whether the disease poses a true threat to a human life? Or … is the government now to judge the “consistency” of someone’s religious beliefs?
The only appropriate requirement is for someone to assert that they have a sincerely held religious belief that requires an exemption, not to set a government entity as a judge over the specific details of such beliefs.
- Similarly, the requirement to attest that the religious tenet or practice is “not solely an expression of that person’s … moral views” sets the government in an improper role of judging what is a “religious” belief.
- The New Jersey vaccination rate is currently at 96.5% for the 7 vaccines surveyed by the CDC. The existing religious exemption has not decreased rates and must be left intact. Religious and medical exemptions combined are at only 1.7%, which is below the national median of 1.8%.
- The idea that unvaccinated individuals pose a health risk to others is unsupported in the medical literature. In fact, vaccinated individuals can pose greater risk to public health due to a process known as shedding. Scientific evidence demonstrates that individuals vaccinated with live virus vaccines such as MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), rotavirus, chicken pox, shingles and influenza can shed the virus for many weeks or months afterwards and infect the vaccinated and unvaccinated alike. https://www.westonaprice.org/studies-show-that-vaccinated-individuals-spread-disease/
- S2173 could be used to intimidate, harass and discriminate against families with sincere religious beliefs opposing the administration of one or more vaccines to their children.
View A3818 here: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2018/Bills/S2500/2173_I1.HTM
View S2173 here: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2018/Bills/S2500/2173_I1.PDF
If you want to learn more about other vaccine bills being considered in New Jersey visit: The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) https://nvicadvocacy.org/members/Home.aspx and NJ Coalition for Vaccination Choice http://njvaccinechoice.com