Concerned parents and conscientious objectors packed out a California Senate committee hearing in Sacramento yesterday, loudly voicing disapproval of a bill which would severely restrict a parent’s right to opt their children out of state-mandated vaccines.
Senate health committee officials on Wednesday decided to postpone a vote after hearing over three hours of testimony from both sides of the vaccine debate, including arguments from parents who showed up from across the state to oppose SB 277.
Committee members voted 6-2 in favor of the controversial bill last week, prompting an overwhelming response from parents yesterday who formed a line down the hallway leading up to the hearing room and out onto the capitol grounds.
Many parents threatened to remove their children from the public school system if the bill were to pass, saying they’d “rather keep their kids out of schools than vaccinate them,” according to Courthouse News.
“Vaccines come with a risk of injury and death, and there’s no liability for the medical doctors or the pharmaceutical companies,“ a chiropractor and mother expressed in an interview outside the hearing. “In this situation it should definitely be a choice.”
Robert Moxley, a Wyoming attorney who specializes in representing vaccine-injured victims, also called the bill a violation of due process and labeled it “unconstitutional.”
“The Supreme Court will not tolerate a mechanism for medical exemptions only; it is a denial of due process and a violation of the right to free exercise of religion,” he said.
SB 277 would still allow parents to opt out of vaccines, but they would need to obtain a medical exemption from a health care provider, which are seldom handed out.
Following testimony, committee Chairwoman Sen. Carol Liu recommended that a vote on the bill be postponed until concerns were addressed regarding the method by which unvaccinated children would be removed from or kept from attending school.
“If I were you, I would not take a vote today. I would try to get answers to all the questions that have been raised,” Sen. Liu told one of the bill’s authors, Sen. Richard Pan. “Otherwise, I don’t think your bill proceeds out of this committee.”
“Flanked by television cameras and reporters, Pan huddled with his staff before reluctantly accepting a no vote,” reported Courthouse News.
In the days leading up to this week’s hearing, Sen. Pan was assigned a security team after allegedly receiving multiple online threats.
Another senator also highlighted other contentious portions of the bill, including a provision that keeps unimmunized children from attending private schools, and another section that allows the legislature to add future immunizations to the list of mandated vaccines.