Sunday, September 28, 2003

As of September 1, 2003, Texas has become the 19th state to enact a "conscientious objection" exemption from vaccinations. Previously, Texas only provided for religious and medical exemptions.

This new law will not only allow for exemptions for non-religious persons, but it will also make things easier for parents who have objections to vaccinations based on religious grounds, but who do not belong to a religious organization that prohibits vaccinations per se. Previously, Texas law stated that in order to obtain a religious exemption, parents had to state that vaccinations conflicted "with the tenets and practice of a recognized religion, of which we are adherents." This conflicted with constitutional case law on the subject, which required only a sincerely held religious belief, but try explaining that to a school administrator who doesn't like the wording of your exemption letter.

Now this is strange: in order to obtain an exemption form, you must write (no email or online forms) to the Texas Department of Health and provide your childrens' names and birthdates (even though they are not allowed to retain this information once the form is sent), and the number of forms you want (copies are not accepted), sign it and have it notarized. Previously if you wanted a Religious exemption, you just wrote a little letter following the wording of the statute and signed it. The new form will be used for both the religious and conscientious (but not medical) exemptions.

According to the TDH, "The Texas Department of Health and the Texas Education Agency are providing school districts with guidance for implementing a new law intended to make it more difficult for parents to exclude their children from vaccinations required for school enrollment" [emphasis added]. Huh? The purpose of the law is to make it more difficult for us to exercise our constitutionally protected religious freedoms? They said it, I didn’t.

Another provision of the law prohibits a health and human services agency (including the Health Department and Child Protective Services) from taking punitive action against a parent for not immunizing their child. Here the definition of punitive action includes "the initiation of an investigation of a person responsible for a child's care, custody, or welfare for alleged or suspected abuse, or neglect of a child." In other words, CPS cannot come take you kids away for "neglect" just because you do not immunize.

And now for a little rant: Folks, vaccinations are not mandatory. No one can force you or your child to undergo any medical treatment or procedure without your consent. If they were, the government and health care provider would be civilly liable for any adverse outcome, and possibly guilty of civil and criminal battery as well. Shots are, however, required in order to enroll you or your child in a public school, and in some private schools, unless of course you take one of the aforementioned exemptions. I am amazed at the number of people who do not realize that they have choices when it comes to health care. Recently, a pregnant friend learned from an LDR nurse that the hospital where she will deliver her baby "requires" that all laboring mothers be confined to bed, and given a catheter and I.V. I just about hit the roof when I heard this. I explained to her that it was her right to refuse any medical treatment she did not want.

The purpose of this blawg entry is not to convince you to not vaccinate your children or to become difficult hospital patients, but to alert you to your constitutional, legal, and moral rights when it comes to drugs and medical procedures, on your own or your childrens' behalf. The phrase "informed consent" has no meaning if we do not have the option of "informed dissent." YOU are ultimately responsible for your health and your child's health; not your doctor, the government, the CDC, the drug manufacturers, or your state or county health department.

The new exemption process explained here.
Sample letter for obtaining an exemption form.
Texas vaccination info from P.R.O.V.E.

I really ought to link to the text of the new law, but I am too tired to look it up. Maybe later. Most of the people who read this are (I assume) lawyers anyway, so go look it up yourself.

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