Parents in New Jersey can heave a sigh of relief after the state’s legislature failed to pass one of the most aggressive mandatory vaccination bills ever seen.
As more states eye the removal of the long-protected right to refuse some or all school vaccinations on religious grounds, New Jersey was poised to pass a bill that would invalidate all religious exemptions, past and present.
Where other Eastern blue states like Maine and New York passed legislation to end religious exemptions for public and private-schooled children, New Jersey’s bill would also have applied to colleges and universities.
The State Assembly passed its version of the bill by a 45-25 vote Monday afternoon. The Senate bill was expected to pass by a small margin.
Amid massive, all-day protests from New Jersey’s concerned parents and faith leaders, the State Senate found that they did not have enough members who were quite so eager to strip their constituents of their religious liberty.
Just after 8 p.m., after several hours of waiting and chanting, protesters erupted into applause when it was announced that the Senate would not be voting on the bill:
Sue Collins, co-founder of the New Jersey Coalition for Vaccine Choice, was ecstatic. “The parents of New Jersey had a victory today,” she said, according to the New York Times. “The Legislature stood with us.”
Supporters of vaccine choice garnered the support of many lawmakers, the Times reports, including the Republican Assembly minority leader, Jon Bramnick of Union County, who criticized the broad-reaching legislation on the Assembly floor.
“To tell a doctor that they cannot use their ability, their expertise, to write an exemption handcuffs doctors,” Bramnick said, referring to a section of the bill which would also tighten restrictions on medical exemptions.
The battle isn’t over yet, however.
“They can cheer all they want. We’re not walking away from it,” Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney said of the applause after announcing the postponement of the vote. “It’s just remarkable how people are looking at this and not trusting the science on it at all. They’re trusting the internet.”
What’s remarkable, of course, is that so many Democrat legislators are so eager to write off any dissenting thought on vaccination, abortion, or any of their pet topics as “anti-science.” If these people wanted to adequately represent their constituents, they’d hear each and every one of them out and vote according to the wishes of those who elected them.
Instead, they can simply brand opponents of the bill as “anti-vaxxers” and carry on their merry way, which is exactly what they plan to do in January before the legislative session ends.
Vaccine choice advocate Stephanie Locricchio offered New Jersey citizens a series of updates and calls to action in preparation for the legislature’s anticipated attempt to revive the bill before the session ends on January 13:
1. Contact Governor MURPHY VETO A1576/S1003 which mandates any EMPLOYEE in a healthcare facility must have annual FLU vaccine with no option to DECLINE for any reason. Effective Immediately !
VETO A1991 the bill that mandates Meningitis B on all enrolled college students.
Continue to ask for his opposition to S2173 if it comes to his desk.
609-292-6000 / firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Contact assembly people in your district to discuss their vote. Continue to educate and meet with those that are still voting to pass mandates.
3. Thank senators who supported us and continue to encourage and educate the ones who have concerns about mandates.
Our voice needs to be louder than theirs!!
The role of each citizen to participate in our representative government cannot be overstated. New Jersey parents won this round, but we all need to keep up the pressure on our elected representatives to do their job and protect our rights, not revoke them.
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