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Why I oppose HB-5044

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H.B. No. 5044 (Raised), An Act Concerning Immunizations (the “Bill”), proposes to eliminate the religious exemption to vaccination. This proposal has become a perennial favorite, notwithstanding that it perennially fails to gain traction. I strongly encourage legislators to allow it to fail again this term.

Much ink has been spilled discussing the constitutionality of mandatory inoculation programs, from the original U.S. Supreme Court precedent in Jacobson to various federal appellate decisions in more recent years. However unwise it may be to extend the legal reasoning supporting emergency action to curtail a turn of the 20th century effort to suppress a smallpox epidemic to all manner of immunizations, such narrow inquiries miss the broader points.

First and foremost, as a broad matter, no one is better positioned to make decisions regarding the safety, health, and well-being of their children than are their parents. When government seeks to intrude on this decision making, its grounds should be clear, compelling, narrow, and accountable. The Bill fails on at least the latter two of these points, extending well beyond the free public primary and secondary schools guaranteed by the Constitution of the State of Connecticut, and delegating most of the important mandatory immunization determinations to a commission the members of which are not elected by Connecticut voters.

The Bill goes well beyond a slippery slope – it represents a path that, once traveled, may prove impossible to retrace. Where is the line between what a consort of unelected Mandarins would prefer that we or our children do and what is actually necessary to prevent an epidemic of contagion? No one knows, least of all the Bill sponsor. And the Bill proposing to absolve the legislature of responsibility for such decisions, to whom may we turn to draw that important line? Certainly not our Mr. Tong, who lacks the backbone to draw such a line in the face of his party, and may well lack the ability to articulate such a line in the first place.

One can and should quibble about the appropriate balance between the state’s police power and its citizen’s religious and other freedoms, because that balance of competing freedoms is inherently important to the existence and livelihood of our state. But wherever one finds that balance, the usurping exercise of police power should be exercised by elected officials accountable to their electorate. Moreover, those elected officials should take great care to exercise only so much of that police power as is absolutely necessary to achieve its compelling interest in health and well being. Any greater liberties taken with such powers necessarily imperil the liberties otherwise enjoyed by our fellow citizens, and that should give all of us great pause.
Irina Comer

Republican candidate for State Representative, 142nd District, which represents parts of Norwalk and New Canaan.

15 comments

Science February 22, 2020 at 2:42 pm

Unvaccinated children can take away the first right of all humans…which is life. Give me a break with your religious freedoms and shame on this website for allowing such dangerous views to be spread.

Ct. V February 22, 2020 at 2:53 pm

Eight percent of the kids in my daughter’s class aren’t fully vaccinated. As a result there is a non-zero probability of her getting a disease that has basically been eradicated. If parents were responsible we would not need this bill, but since the internet is full of ridiculous falsehoods, we need the government to step in and not make this a choice. Protect our kids, pass the bill.

Alexandra Gizhitsa February 23, 2020 at 9:35 am

This bill is not about vaccinations:

As a mom who supports vaccinations, I think the author makes an excellent argument. School education in CT is defined as a right. The government should not be making parental decisions, especially because this bill allows for new vaccines and new schedules to be added as requirement without our government voting on it.

The Big JC February 23, 2020 at 9:49 am

I would encourage those commenting to read the letter more carefully. I see nothing in the letter to suggest that Ms. Comer is anti-vaccination. Indeed, I see nothing in the letter expressing a view one way or the other on vaccinations. It seems to me she is making a few complementary points: (1) parents should generally have the power to make decisions regarding the well-being of their children, (2) government should be extremely careful about interfering with that power, and (3) if and when government interferes with that power, the interference should be narrow and carried out by elected officials, not appointed bureaucrats. Those points seem perfectly rational to me, and I am very strongly pro-vaccination.

Science appears to have missed the point altogether. Ct. V, on the other hand, is articulating precisely the dangerous view against which Ms. Comer warns. If one’s logic is “If parents were responsible we would not need this bill,” then the logical conclusion is that you, as a parent, should lose your right to make parental decisions so long as a majority of people disagree with your decision. I cannot imagine a more terrifying concept, particularly given the increasing number of ignorant and uninformed people in the world. I am happy that concept is generally applicable in the United States – it is why I love living here.

niz February 23, 2020 at 12:11 pm

not one perspective is wrong in this matter… understanding vaccines have lots of toxins, metals etc.. which are unhealthy, even damaging. included w/ the failing health of our environments; food, air, water, mother, baby, child…. we ought to address these matters, insisting in a united and consistent, effective manor that those tpxics be excluded, our environments are key! for a safe: healthy vaccination experience. as the constitution of ones health needs to be strong to not be harmed or badly effected by vaccinations.
and then understanding, if some aren’t protected from these really dangerous epidemics, diseases than all are at risk… in various ways.
still too many shots are also a matter that requires addressing.

Bryan Meek February 23, 2020 at 12:24 pm

There is a lot of passion on this issue whatever your position.

I just wish we had a fraction of this energy fighting the ridiculous bans on germ killing cleaners in our schools.

Hospitals get it and use bleach disinfectants. Why do our children always have to suffer for some environmental whacko’s need to control the planet.

We can’t stop Cornavirus, but some think we can still control global climate and weather. Ridiculous.

Jona Marie Cruz February 23, 2020 at 3:04 pm

I oppose SB5044 – There is no public health emergency and there is no compelling reason to strip fundamental rights from citizens….

End of story. I have a 15 year old who’s fully vaccinated besides the HPV series. It’s not the right of the government to take away a religious freedom.

Kyle H. Sinotte February 23, 2020 at 7:49 pm

I Oppose bill #5044 and will continue to fight against a state legislation that wasn’t of a majority vote. I as well as thousands of others who did show at the committee the other day to stand against the violation of our children’s rights.
My children should NOT be removed from school because they do not get flu shots. For the record my son hasn’t had one bout of the flu in almost 3 years now WITHOUT a single flu shot, and is surrounded by kids who either “got the wrong flu strand in their shot” or “ don’t know why the shot didn’t work” and are the cause of the flu spreading.
Yet my son hasn’t been the one spreading a sickness that if the vaccine is supposed to prevent , shouldn’t be an issue anyways. To sit here and read the comments about “responsible parenting” well, maybe putting the wrong shots into your child is the cause for their being sick. Every finger pointed has 3 pointing inward .

Oppose this bill for the principle of not having our State Government dictate what is going to happen without our telling it do so!! We are the ones who tell our representatives what to do! NOT the other way around..

John Levin February 23, 2020 at 9:44 pm

I respect Ms. Comer’s concerns for government overreach, and for cautious use of government police power. However, I do not believe either is applicable to HB 5044. The bill revokes a privilege offered to “religious parents” which is not made available to “non-religious parents”. By itself, how is this objectionable? The bill also establishes a state committee to oversee medical exemptions for vaccines. Every state already is actively involved in monitoring and policing parental behaviors toward their children, and not just parents are policed under these laws. Consider, for example, the federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act originally passed and signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1974, and reauthorized many times since, most recently in 2010.

In Connecticut we are fortunate that our state Public Health Commission is led by an exceptionally capable professional: Renee Coleman-Mitchell. If one questions the need for HB 5044 or lacks confidence in its future implementation, I encourage you to review her testimony before the Legislature’s Public Health Committee on February 19.

Babar February 24, 2020 at 12:12 pm

“…no one is better positioned to make decisions regarding the safety, health, and well-being of their children than are their parents…”

You might have a point in general but if you think average parents are better equipped than doctors then we need to have a completely different debate with you. There’s a reason doctors go to school for a few extra years.

Franchesca Feliciano February 24, 2020 at 1:54 pm

To Science: please google and learn about vaccine court. It has paid out over 4 Billion dollars to families who were injured or died from recieving a vaccine. Those children have been denied the right to a healthy life.
John Levin, if you refer to the press releases put out by the DPH commissioner Coleman has mentioned time and time again that CT is at a very low risk for an outbreak. There are policies and protocols in place to protect CT from this very thing from occurring. When NY had an outbreak of measles, CT only had 4 because the DHP knows how to react and implement plans to protect CT citizens. The rise in religious exemptions averages 1 religious exemption per school. None of the adults who caught the measles last year claimed religious exemptions and only 1 was a school age child who did not catch it at school, DPH can confirm that. HB-5044 serves no one because it will not provide better protection. There is no evidence to support that children with a religious exemption are a threat to others. If there is please share it with me, I’m highly interested in seeing it and the source.

Jessica Koehler February 24, 2020 at 5:47 pm

It is a person’s choice and parents choice what they 2ant to put into their bodies and children’s bodies to protect them from disease. That seems to be what we were led to believe since polio and smallpox vaccines. The future of vaccines seems scary at the moment. I hope the people who develope our vaccines and lawmakers take a good look and consideration for this new bill, it affects everyone’s health!

Ron Morris February 24, 2020 at 8:29 pm

Bryan Meek
Actually you are wrong, we can control global climate change as we are the ones that destroyed it. Common sense if you can destroy it, you can fix it. I always have a laugh how right wingers are anti-science.

Bruce Calef February 25, 2020 at 7:45 am

I did read again the testimony of our comissioner Coleman again and there are a number of questions she has ignored along with the department of health and especially it’s chairman. They have chosen to ignore the veracity of the experiences of over 100 distraught mothers who are convinced their children were injured and even killed by mandated immunizations. When one official said that “…injury from vaccinations is very, very rare, only one in 500,000 or one in 1,000,000” that doesn’t add up. If we only had 100 heart wrenching stories and I think there are more than that, especially when you consider those in the lobby who did not testify, if you take that ratio and multiply it by only 100 this “small and vocal minority” would represent 100 million mothers. There are only 3.5 million people in this whole state and of course not all of them are mothers. So what do we do with these contradictory figures? Research should have been done before this draconian bill was even considered. But the NIH and CDC are not granting this research because their boards of directors are staffed by the very ones who stand to make huge profits from their decisions, and some of them are probably your own husbands and friends. We have been led to believe vaccines are both safe and effective and yet there are a few brave souls who have contradicted what we have been led to believe, but what are we doing about it? Will we just join the BOH, the commissioner, and even our own govenor in ignoring what these mothers are so desperately trying to tell us?

Free country? February 25, 2020 at 10:53 am

I agree that this bill is not good. Our country was founded on freedom and acting to take away the rights of citizens should be looked at long & hard. We are not a one-size-fits-all species and there is NO medication that is 100% safe or 100% effective. The manufacturers of these products have numerous lawsuits against them & have been sued for millions of dollars. It has been exposed that safety studies are lacking and that in many cases the ones that are there have been falsified. $4 billion has been paid out the the families of children who were injured or killed from TAX PAYERS as these companies have zero liability.

What has changed??
– Our parents had 5 vaccines. Today’s children will have 72. Are they healthier?
– There hasn’t been 100% coverage ever, most adults are not current with the schedule, no higher rates of deaths are occurring than there has been… and yet there’s a massive panic now?

If the government wanted to assist in better health for our nation, toxic foods would be pulled from the shelves & cleaner products would be focused on. Our country allows ingredients other countries have banned. Sadly, many politicians have been bought out by pharma through generous contributions. For as much technology & medicine as we have, we are one of the sickest countries in the world.

So now we surrender our rights and get in line to trust that all will turn out well. Recently, China received bad mandated vaccines and children were dying! Taking away consumer rights and empowering a zero liability industry isn’t going to lead to safer products and a healthier nation.

If you don’t want to use your constitutional rights, that’s fine BUT you have no right to take away others.

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