Tuesday, May 4, 2021 : By Heather Hayes
Connecticut has become the sixth state to remove religious exemptions for vaccine mandates for students as a national battle over personal and parental rights versus vaccine safety heats up.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont signed the bill into law last week and tweeted, “Proud to sign this bill into law to protect as many of our school children as possible from infectious diseases as we can.”
Connecticut joins California, New York, West Virginia, Mississippi, and Maine in allowing no religious exemption for vaccines.
The law was enacted to prevent outbreaks of diseases, such as measles that have been seen in schools in the Northeast. Vaccination Alliance of Connecticut said, “The exemption has been used in recent years to skirt the vaccine law, causing many schools to fall below the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s threshold of 95% needed for herd immunity against highly contagious diseases like Measles, Pertussis, Tetanus, and Meningitis, among others.”
Two organizations opposing the legislation, We The Patriots USA, Inc., and The CT Freedom Alliance, LLC, said they would file suit against the state over the law.
Norm Pattis, an attorney representing the two groups, said, “The notion that somehow the state government gets the right to cram its version of virtue down the throats of every citizen in this state is and ought to be offensive to every Connecticut resident.” He said it was “far more chilling” for the state to tell a parent how to raise their child than to expose other children to a “nominal risk” of infection.
Meanwhile, some higher education institutions, including Catholic school St. John’s University, are requiring students to provide proof of COVID vaccination. Father Brian J. Shanley, a Dominican priest and president of St. John’s, said, “As of Monday, April 19, the COVID-19 vaccine is available nationwide to anyone aged 16 and over. As such, St. John’s will require all students to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus and to provide proof of vaccination before returning to campus for the fall semester.”
Shanley added that this policy was part of taking “the necessary steps to protect the health of our academic community and to move toward a return to our pre-pandemic business operations as a vibrant living and learning institution.”
Unlike Connecticut, however, Shanley said the school would allow for exemptions if the student could provide “proof of a documented medical condition” or refused the vaccination due to religious beliefs.
When asked why she did not require members of Congress to receive the COVID vaccination, Pelosi said, “We are guided by the Capitol attending physician and the sergeant at arms, but science demands why we still have masks on. We cannot require someone to be vaccinated, that’s just not what we can do.”
She added, “If we could but we can’t require vaccinations for the members much less for the American people. Some people want to say, ‘Don’t come into my store unless you are vaccinated,’ this or that. It causes commotion.”
The Connecticut law continues the national debate over parental rights versus the safety of other parents’ children. Late last year, the District of Columbia passed a bill that allows children as young as 11 years old to be vaccinated without parental consent. Not only that, the bill requires insurance companies to hide a child’s vaccination from his or her parents.
The vaccine debate is a complex and difficult issue, particularly in a time of unprecedented restriction of Americans’ freedoms and attacks on parental rights. Parents should have the right not only to know about their child’s healthcare decisions but to be in charge of making the right decision for their child. They should also have the right to make those decisions based on their deeply held religious beliefs. On the flipside, parents who do vaccinate their children should not have to worry about the safety of their children due to other parents’ choices.
COVID vaccine requirements should be concerning to all Americans, and religious liberty must be protected. Yet parents who choose not to vaccinate their children against diseases, such as measles, must understand that in making a choice not to vaccinate their child, they may in the future have to homeschool that child.
The answer to this debate is not easy, but if this is a precursor to mandating people to receive the COVID vaccine in order to participate in society, then it is an alarming step towards tyranny.