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CA court decision upholding school vaccination requirement

Posted by John Reed on

Here is a judge’s explanation of why he rejected a challenge to CA’s vaccination law from today’s San Francisco Chronicle.

“Society has a compelling interest in fighting the spread of contagious diseases through mandatory vaccination of school-age children. [The right to practice one’s religion] does not outweigh the state’s interest in public health and safety. [The California State Supreme Court upheld mandatory vaccination since 1890. religious freedom] does not include liberty to expose the community or the child to communicable disease. [The right to an education, strongly protected by California law, must give way to the public interest in protecting children’s health.]”

The law prohibits enrollment in kindergarten or seventh grade unless the child has been vaccinated. That means such children can be enrolled if the are going to be in first through sixth grade or eighth through 12th grade, a rather huge loophole that should be closed.

The plaintiffs say there are 33,000 students in CA whose parents oppose vaccination. They tried to get a repeal of the new law on the ballot, but failed. They will now appeal the court decision.

Both the religious and right to an education arguments are bogus. Religious beliefs that it is okay to harm children (e.g., Muslim mutilation of female child genitalia) or that it is okay not to treat an injured or sick child (e.g., Seventh Day Adventist) or that it is okay not to vaccinate a child, do not trump their child’s right to life or the rights of children not their own to their lives.

The notion that no enrollment in a classroom school deprives the child of his or her right to an education pretends that is the only form of education. For one year, one of our sons was enrolled in Venture. That is a public school program in which the student meets with a teacher once a week, turning in homework, taking tests, and receiving the next week’s lessons. And because of the peculiar loophole of the law, they only have to do that for two of the 13 K-12 years. They can also home school, which I expect is subsidized by the state in terms of text books, lesson plans, and tests.

The law does not interfere with adults practicing their religion with regard to their own bodies, nor with children’s education, only with the venue and fellow-student-proximity aspects of that education. WV and MS have similar laws.

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