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New York Ends Religious Exemptions For Vaccine Mandates

On Thursday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, signed a bill into law that will immediately end religious exemptions for vaccine mandates.

Cuomo said he signed the bill in order to protect the public in the midst of one of the worst measles outbreak in decades, which he categorized as a “public health crisis,” reported CBS New York.

The outbreak first sparked in October, the outlet noted, and spread in parts of New York City, particularly among Orthodox Jewish communities.

“Rockland County declared a countywide State of Emergency relating to the ongoing measles outbreak,” reported NBC in March. “Effective at the stroke of midnight, Wednesday, anyone who is under 18 years of age and unvaccinated against the measles will be barred from public places until this declaration expires in 30 days or until they receive the MMR vaccination.”

With the passing of the law, parents will be forced to vaccinate their children before they can attend school in the state, and religious exemptions won’t get them out of it. Parents and teens have morally objected to certain vaccines based upon ties to abortion. Now, the only acceptable exemptions from the mandate will be for medical reasons, such as a child’s weakened immune system.

While opponents of the legislation protested in Assembly chambers on Thursday, sponsors of the bill praised its passing as a measure of protection for children.

“If your kid is immunocompromised and going to school or a day care center, you want to know that they’re going to be safe,” said State Sen. Brad Hoylman, a sponsor of the legislation, according to CBS New York.

“It’s our obligation to act,” State Sen. David Carlucci said. “We have to do everything we can to get the number of people vaccinated up.”

“The government does not have the right to interfere with my personal religious beliefs,” said one woman protesting the law. “We will not vaccinate. What’s going to happen is we’re going to either home school or we’re going to move out of state.”

Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein, a Democrat, noted that he is pro-vaccine but could not vote for the bill out of “constitutional duty.”

“Despite my pro-vaccination stance and despite my beliefs that there are no religious restrictions, it is my constitutional duty to vote in the negative,” he said.

California is headed the way of New York when it comes to vaccines via SB 276. Actress Jessica Biel sparked debate over vaccines earlier this week when she met with some 15 California legislators to discuss her concerns about the bill and advocate for parental rights.

Biel said she is “not against vaccinations” but supports “families having the right to make educated medical decisions for their children alongside their physicians.”

“This week I went to Sacramento to talk to legislators in California about a proposed bill,” she wrote in an Instagram post on Thursday. “I am not against vaccinations — I support children getting vaccinations and I also support families having the right to make educated medical decisions for their children alongside their physicians.”

“My concern with #SB277 is solely regarding medical exemptions. My dearest friends have a child with a medical condition that warrants an exemption from vaccinations, and should this bill pass, it would greatly affect their family’s ability to care for their child in this state,” the post continued. “That’s why I spoke to legislators and argued against this bill. Not because I don’t believe in vaccinations, but because I believe in giving doctors and the families they treat the ability to decide what’s best for their patients and the ability to provide that treatment.”

Proponents of vaccination mandates claim SB 276 “will have minimal impact on those with valid reasons for exemption, citing medical authorities like the bill’s prominent co-sponsors: the California Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, California,” The Daily Beast reported.

As reported by The Daily Wire in April, a judge told a Catholic teenager from Kentucky, Jerome Kunkel, that he is not allowed back in school after morally objecting to receiving a vaccination for the chicken pox due to its apparent ties to abortion.

”It’s my understanding that the vaccine is derived from aborted fetal cells,” said Kunkel, according to WLWT. “And it is against my religion. Abortion is against my religion.”

As noted by KHN Morning Briefing, “The Varicella vaccine, specifically, is derived from the cell lines of two fetuses that were electively aborted in the 1960s.”

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