Respectful Insolence

I’ve been blogging a lot about California Bill AB 2109. Basically, it’s a bill that was proposed as a means of addressing the increasing problem of non-medical exemptions to school vaccine mandates because religious and philosophical exemptions are too easy to obtain. Boiled down to its essence, AB 2109 would require parents to see a pediatrician or health care practitioner for a discussion of the benefits and risks of vaccines and, more importantly, the risks of not vaccinating. You’d think that the antivaccine movement wouldn’t have a problem with a bill that in essence requires informed consent before an exemption from the school vaccine mandate would be granted. After all, they’re always harping on informed consent, claiming that parents aren’t given adequate informed consent because they aren’t told that vaccines can cause autism and all the other complications antivaccinationists fervently believe they can. That’s because what antivaccinationists really want is what I like to call “misinformed consent.” AB 2109 in essence turns the tables on the antivaccine movement by using its own tactic against it. You want “informed consent,” more states seem to be saying, well, then we’ll give you informed consent. To get a philosophical exemption from vaccination, you’ll need to speak to a doctor and have him or her sign an attestation that you’ve been counseled. You can’t just sign a form yourself anymore. That’s what Washington did, and that’s what AB 2109 does.

At every stage of its journey through the California legislature, AB 2109 has been bitterly resisted by antivaccinationists. For instance, “Dr. Bob” Sears launched a fallacy-filled attack on AB 2109, and opponents of the bill even managed to get Rob Schneider not only to speak out against the bill, but to speak at a recent rally against the bill. Particularly offensive was Schneider’s invocation of the Nazi card, likening AB 2109 to a violation of the Nuremberg Code. Yes, Schneider has plumbed depths of stupid that few antivaccinationists have plumbed before, which tells me that he’s a rising star in the pro-quackery movement.

The reason I’m mentioning all of this is because, as last week closed, I noted my happiness that AB 2109 had been passed by both houses of the California legislature but my concern that, for some reason, Governor Jerry Brown had not yet signed it. Indeed, I was hoping that people would go out and counter an antivaccine rally in Sacramento on Friday designed to put pressure on Governor Brown to veto the bill (or not to sign it by the deadline, September 30, which would have had the same effect).

So, did the pressure work? Fortunately, no. Governor Brown signed the bill. He’s also issued a signing message. Unfortunately, Governor Brown tried to water down the bill. You’ll see what I mean in a minute. First, Brown writes:

This bill is about explaining the value of vaccinations – both the benefits and risks – for an individual child and the community. Whether these are simple “information exchanges” or more detailed discussions, they will be valuable even if a parent chooses not to vaccinate.

So far, so good. Now here’s where Brown blows it:

I am signing AB 2109 and am directing the Department of Public Health to oversee this policy so parents are not overly burdened by its implementation. Additionally, I will direct the department to allow for a separate religious exemption on the form. In this way, people whose religious beliefs preclude vaccinations will not be required to seek a health care practitioner’s signature.

Arrrgh!

Remember how I’ve discussed how religion-inspired objections to vaccination are privileged above non-religious philosophical objections? As I’ve argued, there should not be a difference between religious and non-religious nonmedical exemptions to school vaccine requirements. Either nonmedical exemptions to vaccine mandates should be allowed for any philosophical reason, religious or nonreligious, or, preferably, they should not. To do otherwise is to give undue weight to religious belief over nonreligious belief and discriminate against nonbelievers, which is exactly what Governor Brown is trying to do with his instructions to the Department of Public Health. Why should parents whose objection is religious be exempted from having to see a health care professional for a discussion of vaccine benefits and risks while parents whose objection is not religious are not? There is no good reason, and certainly such a discussion is not an undue burden on anyone’s First Amendment right to freedom of religion. I don’t know what Brown is trying to do here. Well, actually, I think I do. He’s pandering. That’s what he’s doing. His pandering, however, could have real consequences. If he has his way all any parent would have to do to avoid having to see a health care practitioner as mandated in AB 2109 would have to do is to decide that her objection to vaccines is religious in nature. If Brown’s signing statement holds sway, all of the work to get AB 2109 could well have been for naught.

I wonder, though, whether Brown can actually do what he claims in his signing statement. Look at the text of AB 2109. Nowhere is religion even mentioned. It simply refers to immunizations that are “contrary to the beliefs” of the parent or guardian. It’s quite clear and explicit, and it does not differentiate between nonmedical exemptions based on religion and nonmedical exemptions not based on religious beliefs.

I hope it’s not necessary for pro-science advocates to go to court to force Brown to enforce the clear intent of the law, an intent that (rightly, in my opinion) does not differentiate between religious and secular reasons for not wanting to vaccinate.

Comments

  1. #1 Pris
    The Dark Side of the Force
    October 1, 2012

    Arrgh! That completely defeats the point of the whole thing!

    In other news, flu shots are available at my work place from today on. For free! I will get one soon.

  2. #2 A.Strowger
    San Francisco
    October 1, 2012

    It’s clear that the religious exemption to 2109 will not stand constitutional scrutiny on equal protection grounds.

    Brown’s signing statement refers to “not overly burdening parents,” as does the legislative history of the bill. This type of phrasing is a signal to constitutional lawyers based on standing precedents; see also the phrase “undue burden.”

    What will happen next:

    CA Dep’t of Public Health will issue forms with a check-box for “religious exemption,” that circumvents the requirement to get a doctor’s note.

    Atheists and others will sue the state on the grounds that this violates their right to equal protection of the law.

    The courts will rule as follows:

    One: affirm that the check-box exemption does indeed violate equal protection by giving unfair privilege to religion.

    Two: affirm that the law as passed and signed does not unduly burden anyone, religious or not, by having them get a doctor’s note.

    Three: remove the check-box exemption and hold that religious objectors must still comply with the law.

    Therefore, where we should direct our efforts is:

    Raise money for the lawsuit. Find someone to become the plaintiff. Find a law firm or a group such as ACLU to take the case. And raise publicity about these issues so as to bring in more plaintiffs on the lawsuit.

    The outcome is as predictable as sunrise and sunset. All that remains is to do the work to make it happen.

  3. #3 csrster
    October 1, 2012

    Is allowing religion-only based exemption even constitutional?

  4. #4 Darwy
    Røde grøde med fløde
    October 1, 2012

    I hope that they take him right to court to prevent him from essentially gelding this bill.

    How stupid can the man be?

  5. #5 Just a mom
    October 1, 2012

    I don’t know how the Governer can add anything about religious exemption when as far as I know, that state never had it to begin with. California only had philosophical and medical, which would explain why religious was never in this bill. Law makers would specifically have to vote on adding a religious exemption, would they not?

  6. #6 Former Christian Scientist
    October 1, 2012

    I was not vaccinated as a child because my parents were Christian Scientists–who don’t go to doctors. I happen to have left the church, become a scientist, and happily vaccinated my daughter. However, this bill would require Christian Scientists to see a medical doctor. Regardless of your/my thoughts on their (lack of) relationship with the medical community, doesn’t that population have that right? Should they be forced by law to go against that belief? Perhaps instead of being for Ed to see a doctor, people looking for a religious exemption should have to prove active membership in an organization prohibiting the practice of vaccination.

    In don’t know. I’m throwing this out there. My first thought when reading his was that we yell and scream when a legislator wants a woman to have an ultrasound against her will, then yell and scream when a Christian Scientist resists going to a doctor against her will.

    I’m grateful to the “herd” for having been vaccinated. I understand how important that was for me. And I support those who make the decision to not vaccinate based on religious instruction. Some may think that their reasoning is equally as flawed as the traditional antivaccinist, but, particularly for Christian Scientists, there is consistency in their beliefs. They reject all medical intervention. They aren’t selectively choosing which science to believe in.

  7. #7 Anj
    October 1, 2012

    Pols will be pols.

    This kind of spineless bowing grates on my nerves though. People of faith deserve informed consent too!

  8. #8 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    October 1, 2012

    @ Just a mom, CA does indeed have a blanket “personal belief” vaccine exemption. I can’t help but wonder if Gov. Brown is saying that parents can just get a pass if they say the exemption is for religious beliefs. But I don’t know the legalities of actually doing this and CA will open themselves up to legal challenges if they do allow for religious exemptors to forego signed informed consent.

  9. #9 Just a mom
    October 1, 2012

    Well, the Governor stated “separate religious exemption” which to me doesn’t sound like the states current exemptions of only philosophical and medical. I don’t believe the philosophical affidavit even requires a reason. All you have to state is “my beliefs” which would then already cover religious and be included into this new law. The statement brown made goes outside the realms of the bill that was passed, and also goes outside the current exemptions the state has. A “separate religious exemption” to me means the state now allows for the medical exemption, when the state current has no exemption.

  10. #10 Marry Me, Mindy
    October 1, 2012

    Ok, grant religious exemptions. With 2 things:

    1) Make a list of the known religions that are opposed to vaccination
    2) Require anyone requesting a religious exemption to document that they follow a religion that is opposed; if not one of those in (1) then they have to show that it is officially part of their religion.

    I’d also add that if someone claims a religious exemption and is found to be part of a religion that does not oppose vaccination, it is punishable by law. I realize this is dicier because how would anyone know, but given it is a pulic ealth issue, and they are claiming religious freedom, then the public has a right to examine the claim and verify that it is truly religious and not simply “I don’t wanna” hiding behind a non-existent religious basis.

  11. #11 Darwy
    Røde grøde med fløde
    October 1, 2012

    I’d second the ‘punishable by law’ part for lying about being religious in order to obtain a religious exemption.

    Because there are just SO many religions out there that approve of lying, deceiving and being a menace to the public health.

  12. #12 Just a mom
    October 1, 2012

    I say Governor Brown should know how it works. If he wants to all of a sudden include religious exemptions, write up his own bill and send it through the Senate, or don’t sign the current bill and send it back to be revised.

  13. #13 Shay
    October 1, 2012

    I agree with Mindy but would go so far as to say that in order to get a religious exemption you’d better be able to prove that your butt’s in that pew every Sunday.

  14. #14 Mu
    October 1, 2012

    My thought is – the governor knows very well about the problems with creating a religious exemption via signing statement. When, in due time, the department of health comes out with a for it won’t have a religious checkbox on it. And when the gnashing and howling commences, he will point out a memo by the state AG pointing out the legal hurdles. Saves the state a court fight, but by pretending to do it he took the right wing half of the anti-vaccine movement out of the equation because they’re happy now.

  15. #15 Todd W.
    http://harpocratesspeaks.com
    October 1, 2012

    @Orac

    I had the same thoughts when I came to that part of his statement. It doesn’t make any sense.

    @Former Christian Scientist

    Requiring a discussion with a health care provider does not violate religious beliefs, even for Christian Scientists, I would image. The reason is because it is merely a discussion, not medical treatment, which, as I understand it, is what CS opposes.

  16. #16 Mark Thorson
    October 1, 2012

    Meanwhile in California we have the GMO labelling proposition coming up. My first reaction is to oppose it, but after discovering the Natural Products Association (trade group for manufacturers of natural foods and dietary supplements) opposes it, I’m wondering if I should vote for it.

    http://www.npainfo.org/NPA/Advocacy/Get_the_Facts_about_Prop_37.aspx

    They state their case quite well. It would give lawyers a hunting license to go after any product that claimed to be “natural”. I kind of like that idea.

  17. #17 Todd W.
    http://harpocratesspeaks.com
    October 1, 2012

    @Orac

    One other that that occurred to me was that Gov. Brown may be overstepping his authority. By establishing a religious exemption, is he in essence creating a law or amending the law? If so, he’s clearly stepping on the legislature’s territory.

  18. #18 Josh
    October 1, 2012

    Actually, no, as much as I agree generally that it would be nice to get people to have this counseling, it certainly can be an undue burden.

    That you sit there among your privilege and say otherwise just goes to show how unaware of how the world works for those who are less well off… accessing doctors and nurses costs money, sometimes more than you can afford. If it costs $50, and you spend $20 per day on food clothing and medicine put together, exactly which 2.5 days do you suggest people go without those things, hm?

    You will also have to take an afternoon off. Exactly which one, hm? That is too much of a burden. Plus you are failing to keep context of all the other burdens put on people by the government due to their religion. And they all add up. No, it is not reasonably for you to foist yet another like this on people. Period.

    I’m good with the goal; better appreciation of vaccines and more informed consent. However you have to find some other way to do it. You could this counseling for free in the form of a house call, perhaps, after hours. Or you could just try to use pamphlets – except that the government has long ago burned any and all trust that would be needed to make that work.

    In any case, I would have to indeed oppose any unfair foisting of burdens on anyone. If you want to make a new rule, the cost has to be shared among those who benefit from it/want the rule, not imposed on someone else. Otherwise you can keep searching for some other way to get what you want.

  19. #19 imr90
    Springfield, MA
    October 1, 2012

    My understanding is that it would be unconstitutional to grant a religious exemption from the requirement to get a consult but not a non-religious one. And you certainly can’t have the government deciding which religions are okay for this and which are not, or enforcing church membership or attendance. Also, can the governor just unilaterally change the law that way?

  20. #20 Narad
    October 1, 2012

    Perhaps instead of being for Ed to see a doctor, people looking for a religious exemption should have to prove active membership in an organization prohibiting the practice of vaccination.

    If by “organization” you mean a religious organization, that’s unconstitutional.

  21. #21 Denice Walter
    October 1, 2012

    Perhaps Brown added that “separate religious exemption” as a ‘safety valve’ to release pressure in the explosive situation that is a-brewing.

    Perhaps, like me, he’s heard endless vitriolic rhetoric emanating from the anti-vax groups- I’m sure he’s been assaulted by a barrage of e-mails and phone calls by advocates who despise vaccines for the last few months. Don’t we hear it @ RI?

    Recently, anathema has escalated beyond my wildest imaginings at AoA and TMR: whipping followers into a frenzy, they encourage and enable them to regard their own lives as having been wrecked by SBM, governments and most especially, vaccines( see TMR of Saturday and today, especially) as they call for justice and vengeance. I wonder when they’ll start burning images of their opponents in effigy?

    I’ve seen a few documentaries about animal rights activists (UK) and anti-abortion rights groups (US) and I venture that these people might go the same way eventually.

    It might be difficult to act and feel above the fray if you are the target of unleashed hatred and in-appropriately over- dosed periodic injections of venom at the hands of essayists at the aforementioned festering sinkholes of irrationality and wholesale worship of martyrs.. but we have to be the big kids here. Maybe even feel sympathy to the misled followers who champion this lost cause- their anger is mis-directed at the wrong parties. Someone else- not SBM- got them into the fix in which they’re currently flailing.

  22. #22 Todd W.
    http://harpocratesspeaks.com
    October 1, 2012

    Well, AoA and NVIC are crowing, “Success!”. But some of their followers seem a bit confused.

    One commenter on the latter Facebook post opines that parents will be forced to get their kids vaccinated, now that this bill has become law, despite the fact that there is nothing in the new law suggesting this.

  23. #23 Roadstergal
    Yay Area, CA
    October 1, 2012

    @Mark – hmm, I’d like to see a skeptical blogger take that one on…

    That signing statement is very disappointing. Especially after Brown didn’t mince words when signing the ban on ‘gay conversion therapy’ for minors, saying that they “have no basis in science or medicine and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery.” C’mon, man, you used the Q word, embrace it!

  24. #24 Calli Arcale
    October 1, 2012

    Former Christian Scientist:

    I was not vaccinated as a child because my parents were Christian Scientists–who don’t go to doctors. I happen to have left the church, become a scientist, and happily vaccinated my daughter. However, this bill would require Christian Scientists to see a medical doctor. Regardless of your/my thoughts on their (lack of) relationship with the medical community, doesn’t that population have that right? Should they be forced by law to go against that belief?

    A couple of thoughts.
    1) The law doesn’t actually require anyone to get vaccinated. It requires vaccination as a prerequisite for entry to public school. Homeschooling remains a viable alternative.
    2) Christian Scientists are already required to do things that violate their religion — they are required to take their children to doctors if they get sick. And yes, there are court cases backing this up — the religious argument does not shield a parent from an accusation of medical neglect of a child. Whether or not failure to vaccinate constitutes medical neglect is not something which the courts have yet ruled upon (except occasionally in the context of family court, where parents have divorced but retain joint custody and disagree about getting the children vaccinated, but that’s a very narrow context).

  25. #25 lilady
    October 1, 2012

    IANAL…But Governor Brown has, in effect, changed the bill that was presented to him for signature or veto.

    Existing law in California has only two exemptions; medical exemption and personal belief exemption. The proposed law does not add a third (religious) exemption.

    Brown, if he was “uncomfortable” with the bill submitted by the legislature should have vetoed the bill and submitted his own bill that adds the third (religious) exemption.

    Yup, it was pandering to some vocal groups. The legislators who passed the proposed legislation, should take the matter to the courts, where Brown will be instructed to sign or veto the bill.

  26. #26 Todd W.
    http://harpocratesspeaks.com
    October 1, 2012

    @lilady

    The legislators who passed the proposed legislation, should take the matter to the courts, where Brown will be instructed to sign or veto the bill.

    He already signed the bill. It is now law and states nothing about religious exemptions as a separate class. His instructions to the Dept. of Public Health, if I understand things correctly, carries no legal weight, since it isn’t backed up by law. The DPH should be able to ignore that part of his instructions. If they follow his lead, however, then there could be grounds for a law suit.

    Then again, IANAL, either, but this seems like how things might play out.

  27. #27 Liz Ditz
    Yay Area (to steal a phrase)
    October 1, 2012

    Remember that Jerry Brown (a) trained as a Jesuit (b) is a lawyer (c) is a career politician. I think Mu has it right — Brown knows full well what the game is.

    Lilady, I suggest you go read today’s TPGA post by Karla Fisher, an autistic mother, on the destructive attitudes of “I’m a victim” in parents of autistic children.

    http://www.thinkingautismguide.com/2012/10/how-to-read-blogs-about-parenting.html

  28. #28 Narad
    October 1, 2012

    or not to sign it by the deadline, September 30, which would have had the same effect

    Other way around, which I mention not as pedantry but to observe that he didn’t need to write this signing letter in the first place.

  29. #29 Politicalguineapig
    October 1, 2012

    DW: I’ve seen a few documentaries about animal rights activists (UK) and anti-abortion rights groups (US) and I venture that these people might go the same way eventually.

    Um, no, the anti-abortion movement is winning here, sadly. The Violence Against Women Act has been defunded, so pretty soon crimes against women will not be prosecuted at all.
    Since the anti-vax and anti-science movements are really strong right now, the US will soon be a vast religious wasteland.

  30. #30 ciaparker
    missouri
    October 1, 2012

    I’ve already written to Governor Brown thanking him for his solution! I said it was a decision worthy of King Solomon himself to placate both the Big Pharma people and the parents worried about vaccine damage in their children. The tide has turned, and, as was seen in Vermont earlier this year, parents are not going to permit our right to vaccine choice to be compromised.

  31. #31 Denice Walter
    October 1, 2012

    @ Politicalguineapig:

    No, I wasn’t referring to politica/ legal outcomes or eventual growth of their bases ( I have no idea ) but solely to how these advocates might BEHAVE towards anyone on their ‘enemies list’, i.e. in worrisome ways. Not good.

  32. #32 lilady
    October 1, 2012

    Thanks Liz. I read that article on TPGA. Having a child with any type of developmental disorder is a life-changing event for the parents, other siblings and for other family members.

    The dreadful labels (“train wreck, stolen child”) and the wallowing self-pity and martyrdom that some parents indulge in, is IMO, despicable.

    “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”

    -John Lennon

  33. #33 Lawrence
    October 1, 2012

    Given that it’s California – you want to bet that the California Canary Party is going to file a lawsuit to stop the law from taking effect?

  34. #34 Narad
    October 1, 2012

    I’ve already written to Governor Brown thanking him for his solution! I said it was a decision worthy of King Solomon himself

    Cynthia, perhaps you could scurry back to AoA and ask them where they think the governor’s authority to randomly create a religious exemption comes from.

  35. #35 Liz Ditz
    Yay Area (to steal a phrase)
    October 1, 2012

    Hi Lawrence, I bet you are correct. Here are the comments from the Canary Party’s Facebook post on the bill’s signing

    Sandra Kolankiewicz i hope we can count on governor moon beam

    Alixandra Mullins Lame.so I get to pay my pediatritian another $50 for the same conversation we’ve had three times now. Dislike button.

    Linda Higgins Freaking stupid moron! My kids are all going to become allergic to eggs! Yes, they got a horrible red rash that only went away with Benadryl! I hate how our government seems to think we are all so stupid they have to mandate everything.

    Nandini Minocha Well gov Brown just lost my vote

    Alternative Health Solutions Taking away more of our freedoms. This will be a communist country soon.

    Julie Vargas if this is true and cali is gonna add a religious exemption that doesnt require a doc’s signature then we are gonna see a rise in the religious exemptions. I think he realized how easily this law would be struck down without the religious exemption.

    Mike Clark well the republicans typically represent the military and industrial complex and the democrats represent the health and human services industrial complex.they tend to split the financial complex, vote for Jill Stein:)

    Brenda Henry Pandos Well, I believe God’s given me the power to choose for my kids, so that encompasses my religion to opt out.

    Vaught Chiro Doesn’t surprise me in the least! What a Moron! He can’t think for himself.

    Kathryn Zochert Berg The next governor may not make it so easy to get a religious exemption. Should have been written into the law. How many people do they really think a doctor is going to “talk into” getting the shots just cuz they have to show up at the doctor’s office? REALLY??? If it were me, I would just stare at the doctor and not even have a conversation.

    Kim Dabilis Byrne Docs are given rewards for the most Vacs pushed.

    Linda Higgins Docs are brainwashed. I used to think you had to be smart to become a doctor, now I realize you have to be smart to be a good doctor. Try getting autism or a thyroid condition and getting any kind of decent care – not happening with 99% of the docs out there.

    Mari Graves He added religious exemption to the bill.

    David Naylor The statement that the parents of unvaccinated children will be forced to sign will most likely be phrased in such
    a way as to make the parent out to be negligent.
    Leah Lindsey No government will EVER tell me what I can and cannot do for my children.

    The main website is still perseverating about the “corrupt IACC”.

  36. #36 Ren
    North-Northwest of Baltimore, Maryland
    October 1, 2012

    Yet California passes a law prohibiting gay conversion therapy for children, taking away the “right” of parents to put their GLBT teens through that hell.

    Which is it, Gov. Brown? You either care for the health and safety of children or you don’t.

  37. #37 lilady
    October 1, 2012

    When you come here from AoA CIA Parker, just remember that Orac doesn’t not permit sockpuppetry.

    BTW CIA, If there is an outbreak of a vaccine-preventable disease in your child’s school (s)he will not be permitted to return to school, until the outbreak is contained and your County and State health departments permit the return of unvaccinated pupils.

  38. #38 Lawrence
    October 1, 2012

    @Narad – copy & paste from what she already posted at AoA.

  39. #39 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    October 1, 2012

    I’ve already written to Governor Brown thanking him for his solution! I said it was a decision worthy of King Solomon himself to placate both the Big Pharma people and the parents worried about vaccine damage in their children.

    So which religion do the parents of “vaccine-damaged” children belong to Cia? I don’t believe that your governor can just wish a religious exemption into being nor that such would withstand challenge. Keep dreaming though.

    Hi Lawrence, I bet you are correct. Here are the comments from the Canary Party’s Facebook post on the bill’s signing

    Good grief they all sound bat poo insane. If the “Canary Party” is so damned concerned about children then why aren’t they actually spending their time and money on helping children.

    Oh right, it’s all about the parents isn’t it.

  40. #40 Chris
    Neither here nor there...
    October 1, 2012

    Ms. Parker, did you make sure to tell Gov. Brown that you don’t live in California?

  41. #41 Denice Walter
    October 1, 2012

    @ Science Mom:
    “it’s all about the parents isn’t it”

    At risk of becoming an even larger object of righteous anger and concentrated scorn than I ( probably) already am,
    yes.

    Perhaps parents’ unrealistic (earlier) daydreams about their children’s overwhelming future successes and triumphs in life -which are now considered null and void thanks to ‘vaccine injury’- are currently being replaced by parental daydreams of becoming the warrior-martyr-bold, new mavericky researcher-truth teller-author-leaders of the next rebellion contra the powers that-be etc.

    I might as well pin a bull’s eye on myself, right?

  42. #42 lilady
    October 1, 2012

    O/T @ Science Mom: Come on back to the Lacrosse blog:

    http://lacrossetribune.com/news/local/vaccine-autism-debate-coming-to-la-crosse/article_88fe3612-0a92-11e2-bf97-0019bb2963f4.html

    “Merton” busted the ASD Researcher and his spam. I’m at the top of the comments and please post atop my comment. :-)

    @ Chris: I hope you’re keeping track of CIA’s sockies. Will she come back here? Will she post under a new ‘nym?

  43. #43 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    October 1, 2012

    @ lilady, I caught a whiff of blackheart aka Richard Smith and alluded to that in my last comment to him. What do you expect from them? They have to puff up their (non-existent) credentials because they know they are lacking and aren’t taken seriously.

  44. #44 lilady
    October 1, 2012

    I thought in terms of “blackheart”…but then discounted my feelings. It took Merton to put it all together. At the Ho-Po this spammer posts on each and every thread that mentions vaccines and/or autism. He’s just ignored.

  45. #45 Anka
    October 1, 2012

    Hey Orac, I found something recently that I though you would love! And it’s not about vaccines or homeopathy. It’s called HeartMath and seriously, I laughed, and then cried, and then thought of you. Enjoy. At http://www.heartmath.org

  46. #46 Anj
    October 1, 2012

    If you have FaceBook, the infamous Guggie Daily is awash in vaccine misinformation.

    https://www.facebook.com/guggiedaily

    There’s a plain vanilla blog version as well – the link to an article is why tetanus is so misunderstood!
    http://guggiedaly.blogspot.com/2010/05/one-thing-that-has-frequently-come-up.html

    If you plan on commenting at either one, either expect to get banned quickly, or consider it a challenge to see how much accurate information you can post – before you get banned.

  47. #47 lilady
    October 1, 2012

    @ Anj: Autismum and her guest blogger are already on Guggie’s “case”.

    http://autismum.com/2012/07/09/guggie-you-make-me-gaggie/

  48. #48 Rovin' Rockhound
    October 1, 2012

    @Josh: yeah, having to go meet a doctor to talk about vaccines is a burden. But so is taking your kids to get the vaccine. It should not be easier for parents to not do it than it is to do it – choosing not to vaccinate because it is cumbersome should not be an option.

  49. #49 Narad
    October 1, 2012

    the link to an article is why tetanus is so misunderstood!

    This is on the one hand the standard line (it did take the comments for hydrogen peroxide to make an appearance) and on the other pretty hard-core antivax. I’m sure that I’ve stated this opinion before, but tetanus seems to occupy a role akin to the Holy Ghost even among the Crunchy Warrior Mommies. It is an inhuman force that cannot really be blamed on somebody else (indeed, the script takes pains to reinforce this deviation). Just a rung above rabies and shaken-baby denialism.

  50. #50 Denice Walter
    October 1, 2012

    Really what I don’t comprehend is why parents of *school aged* children- who might believe that vaccines trigger autism circa age 12-18 months- should be up in arms about vaccines for older children: aren’t they already past the vulnerable stage?

    UNLESS they are opposed to vaccines for other reasons: Gardasil causes bizarre neurological symptoms and death, all vaccines contain Hg, Al and lord knows what, vaccines depress natural immunity/ cause auto-immune illness.

    Commenters at the thread about Brown @ AoA seem to fear everything about vaccines at any age. See also flu vaccines for children and adults.

  51. #51 Ivan Ilyich
    October 1, 2012

    I don’t have much sympathy for the position taken by Former Christian Scientist. Adults clearly have the right to refuse treatment for whatever reason, religious or otherwise, but I believe that as parents they have a duty to protect their children from harm. A child has a right to religious freedom which is independent of the parents’, but must reach adulthood in order to exercize it fully.

    Anyway, the Christian Scientists seem to have moderated their position on this somewhat, according to this article. It does not appear that there is any prohibition against merely consulting with a medical doctor, especially where children are concerned.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/24/nyregion/24heal.html

  52. #52 Bob G
    Los Angeles
    October 1, 2012

    The signing statement was peculiar. I suspect that several of the comments are correct, in that Jerry knows that he can’t get away with rewriting this law, much less the US Constitution, and that things will work out differently when it goes into effect as of 2014. In practice, this will mean the fall of 2014, so there is a lot of time between now and then.

    There may be ways to limit the burden on parents without resorting to giving all of them a “get out of jail free” card (ie: the religious exemption box on the form). Here’s a fairly easy way that could be accomplished at modest cost: When parents enroll children in school for the first time, there is some parental involvement that includes a parent visiting the school, perhaps a week or two weeks (or even months) earlier. That could be the time and place where the parent is informed of the rules regarding vaccination and — here’s the important part — there would be a chance for the new student to get the required vaccinations right then and there. There are lots of alternatives; for example, the school could refer the parent to a nearby location where vaccinations are given for free. Notice that the law does not require that a family have a pediatrician or that the parent take a child to a pediatrician. It allows a school nurse to provide information, for example. It doesn’t seem all that difficult for any school district and/or county to provide the vaccination information as part of its overall services. We already have free vaccination clinics; the idea can also be extended to a mobile vaccination clinic. This assumes that we are actually serious about trying to increase the level of vaccination among the school age population.

    Briefer version: The school district can refer the parent to the nearest public health facility or vaccination clinic for free services including receiving information and potentially getting vaccinations.

    I understand full well that the hard core anti-vax people will refuse to accept the offer of free vaccinations for their children, but we already knew that. The constructive outcome is that some parents who simply failed to get their children vaccinated out of apathy, ignorance, or poverty will be given a choice — accept free vaccinations right now, or put up with a lot of red tape and understand that you will have to babysit your own kid every time even one other kid comes down with chicken pox or the like.

    I understand that this approach does not satisfy the need for multiple boosters for some diseases, but it certainly satisfies the need for the one-shot immunizations.

    Since most children are already immunized, the number of parents who will require such counseling is small compared to the total, and the total cost for providing immunizations is relatively small, as the government covers a lot of it anyway.

  53. #53 Kelly M Bray
    23 minutes into the future
    October 2, 2012

    Josh, how much time and money `to you think it takes to take care of a child with Pertussis, Measles, Chicken Pox, Rubella, Rotavirus, etc. More than a single visit to the doctor and a hell of a lot more money. I had pertussis two years ago. I am a strong man but it put me down for weeks.

  54. #54 Anj
    October 2, 2012

    @Kelly M Bray,

    Pertussis is cruel because once it is properly diagnosed, you can attempt to treat it with antibiotics. However antibiotic therapy has little effect on the persistent symptoms. A booster shot and a sore arm sounds a LOT better than getting sick, hauling sorry ass in for medical care, getting tested, diagnosed and given antibiotics if appropriate – and then STILL being stuck persistent hacking cough for weeks.

    And that’s if you stay healthy enough to avoid being hospitalized.

    Many of the other VPDs are quite rare. Pertussis is relatively common.

  55. #55 Anj
    October 2, 2012

    Was scanning the Guggie Daily FB since it’s a good way to see what antivax has to offer without clicking links.

    Hardcore? Yes, when someone advises against vaccinating pets, they are definitely hardcore.

  56. #56 elburto
    October 2, 2012

    @Ivan – exactly.

    FCS –

    we yell and scream when a legislator wants a woman to have an ultrasound against her will

    Oh well aren’t you precious. We “yell and scream” because women have the absolute right to decide what happens to their bodies, and do not deserve to be punished and violated for choosing to end an unwanted pregnancy.

    Nobody else is affected by her abortion. Foetuses won’t spontaneously abort if she gets within six feet of their hosts, nobody will die or become injured, babies and the very ill won’t be at risk of dying from her abortion cooties.

    OTOH – Vaccination is a public health issue. It’s a bit selfish for someone who stayed well because they freeloaded on herd immunity, to come here and claim that others should get to do so too. You’re a doctor now, you know about germ theory and the risks of VPDs, you can’t speak from both sides of your mouth and expect to be taken seriously.

    In two days I will leave this bed and go outside for the first time in eight months. It’s for a hospital appointment. I’m immune-compromised (courtesy of illness and certain meds) and allergic to eggs.

    Pertussis and measles rates have tripled in my area, mumps has quadrupled, and it’s flu season. I’m risking serious illness and even death, in 2012, from VPDs, because idiots can’t bear to admit that His Royal Effluence, Saint Andy, is a lying sack of bovine faecal waste. Parents of new babies should not be terrified that their precious new child might soon be added to a list of the dead because certain people think that the social contract does not apply to them.

  57. #57 lilady
    October 2, 2012

    @ elburto: Here are the recommendations for the 2012-2013 seasonal flu vaccine. Scroll down to see the (relatively) new recommendations for people who have “egg allergies”:

    http://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/vaccination/vax-summary.htm

    Best wishes to you for good health.

  58. #58 tomh
    October 2, 2012

    csrster wrote:
    Is allowing religion-only based exemption even constitutional?

    Of course it is. The US legal code is riddled with religion-only exemptions, from tax law to zoning laws and everything in between. It all falls under the free exercise clause, since religions apparently can’t exercise their faith without exemptions from thousands of secular laws.

    Forty seven other states grant religious exemptions for vaccinations, thirty of them for religious beliefs only, without secular beliefs included. Even in California there are a number of religious exemptions available to parents related to children’s health care. Newborn screening for preventable heritable disorders, infant hearing screening, prenatal testing, newborn eye pathology screening, TB tests for pupils, all these and more are required by California statutes and all can be avoided if they conflict with one’s religious beliefs. Heck, in California,(and about a dozen other states), pupils can get a religious exemption from studying about disease.

    California child abuse and neglect laws include failure to provide medical care in the definition of neglect. But the law also includes the provision, “a child receiving treatment by spiritual means… or not receiving specified medical treatment for religious reasons, shall not for that reason alone be considered a neglected child.”

    In the US there is nothing easier to pass than a religious exemption to just about any law. I’m sure the Dept of Public Health will follow Brown’s directive, but if it becomes necessary, I have no doubt the California legislature would simply pass a religious exemption. There is no chance such an exemption would be overturned by a court.

  59. #59 Landru
    October 2, 2012

    Thanks for the egg allergy page, lilady. Not quite sure where that leaves us, but it’s something to think about–we usually don’t even consider giving the younger one (that would be the largely unvaccinated and absolutely autistic kid, antivax freaks) a flu shot because of his egg problems.

  60. #60 Liz Ditz
    not here, really, somewhere else
    October 2, 2012

    dear @elburto, I didn’t realize your health was so compromised. Please accept my strongest wishes for a return to robust health.

    Bob G — one of the things AB 2109 was designed to do is to reduce or eliminate the “convenience exemptions” — parents who sign the form because they forgot their child’s vaccine records, or can’t find them.

  61. #61 Narad
    October 2, 2012

    I have no doubt the California legislature would simply pass a religious exemption. There is no chance such an exemption would be overturned by a court.

    It’s not clear to me that an exemption to an exemption would survive the second prong of the Lemon test.

  62. #62 tomh
    October 3, 2012

    It’s not clear to me that an exemption to an exemption would survive the second prong of the Lemon test.

    I don’t see why. It doesn’t seem like an exemption would advance or inhibit religion, and an amendment to the law that allowed a religious exemption would be no different than what is in place in 47 other states.

  63. #63 Chris
    Neither here nor there...
    October 3, 2012

    Like New York?

  64. #64 Vicki
    October 3, 2012

    Marry Me Mindy–

    That’s such a blatant “establishment of religion” that you almost have to be joking. There’s no constitutional basis for saying “you can believe this if you belong to X, Y, or Z church, but not if you belong to one we haven’t heard of, or if your rabbi/minister/imam/priestess has a revelation after this list is published.”

    For anyone seriously worried about a burden on parents, free vaccine clinics could include a chance to talk to a doctor, also for free, about the advantages and (usually slight) risks of vaccines. Followed, of course, by either having the child vaccinated, or signing the form saying that you’ve had the conversation. Extending the clinic hours to include evenings or weekends would also be useful: that’s a place to lobby your legislator or local government. Useful for everyone, not just parents who don’t want to vaccinate.

  65. #65 Narad
    October 3, 2012

    It doesn’t seem like an exemption would advance or inhibit religion, and an amendment to the law that allowed a religious exemption would be no different than what is in place in 47 other states.

    Well, what’s being suggested is two sets of rules for the different types of exemption in which the primary effect would be to differentially burden nonreligious claimants.

  66. #66 tomh
    October 3, 2012

    Well, what’s being suggested is two sets of rules for the different types of exemption in which the primary effect would be to differentially burden nonreligious claimants.

    That’s very true. The problem is, this type of differential treatment permeates the US legal system. For instance, in many states religious day care centers (and other businesses) are exempt from health and safety regulations that burden identical nonreligious businesses. Religious nonprofits are exempt from IRS reporting requirements that burden identical nonreligious organizations. The list goes on and on. Courts justify this treatment under the First Amendment free exercise clause. Religious exemptions for medical care for children land in the same area.

  67. #67 Narad
    October 3, 2012

    Religious nonprofits are exempt from IRS reporting requirements that burden identical nonreligious organizations.

    Hmph, I wasn’t aware of the Form 990 exemption, thanks. Time to go look at the history of IRC section 6033, I suppose.

  68. #68 Narad
    October 3, 2012

    OK, I haven’t read Texas Monthly v. Bullock yet, but it seems like the proposed two-tiered scheme would be quite open to challenge. First, it doesn’t arrive with a direct history element à la Walz. Second, does anybody really want more of this specific sort of anomaly lying around? Third, an implicit exemption to the AB 2109 burden would not seem to arise from any free-exercise demand. It’s a slight invitation to increased entanglement for no obvious reason, with ‘slight’ relying on the implication that what the legislature meant to do was to pass two bills in order to get back to where they started.

  69. #69 Narad
    October 3, 2012

    ^ Sorry, I should not have silently changed prongs, but I’m trying to take on board the 6033 stuff.

  70. [...] Governor Jerry Brown signs California Bill AB 2109, but tries to water it down in a sop to religion http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2012/10/01/governor-jerry-brown-signs-california-bill-ab-2109-but-… Rob,the anti-vaxxanator, making nonsense comments [...]

  71. [...] 2109, which has now been passed and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown.  What is Bill AB 2109?  Let’s go to the super computer Orac for the answer: it’s a bill that was proposed as a means of addressing the increasing problem of non-medical [...]

  72. #72 Grant
    October 5, 2012

    Nature News has a piece on this Bill and the wider issue:

    http://www.nature.com/news/us-states-make-opting-out-of-vaccinations-harder-1.11548

  73. [...] has tightened the laws that allow parents in the state to opt out of immunization for their children. It now joins [...]

  74. #74 Rick Monsour
    United States
    October 10, 2012

    Vaccination is not immunization and does not keep disease from spreading. Whether you get sick or not depends entirely on a strong and robust immune system. Vaccinations so far to my knowledge do not strengthen immune systems. Once exposed to a virus or bacteria the body’s immune system is to recognize, respond appropriately, and remember so if you are exposed again it has a memory of that particular disease and can fight it off. The decline of communicable disease in modern civilization started with proper hygene, clean water, washing hands, and prevention. Unfortunately this all coincided with the introduction of vaccinations and of course their proponents took the credit for the decline of these diseases. There has been an alarming rise in the number of vaccinations given to out children at or before there 5th birthday and we are seeing a corresponding rise in asthma, allergies, autism as well as numerous auto immune diseases in these kids. Most if not all medications whether over the counter or prescribed negatively affect our immune systems and weaken our response to disease when exposed. The kids that I see who have the strongest defense against illness are the ones who eat healthy foods ( mainly plant based ), take vitamins daily, have a least one parent or grandparent at home to raise them, ( not in day care ) go to bed at a decent hour, and do not get vaccinated or if they do wait and slowly introduce only the vaccines that really are necessary. I mean think about it now they have Chicken Pox Vaccine?? Are you kidding? Everyone of my children got the chicken pox at the same time naturally and all are now immune to the disease. Yea it was a pain in the butt to have to take care of them but they made it through just like we did as kids. Our bodies were made to fight against disease if given proper defense. The things that challenge our immune systems are 1 Poor nutrition, 2. Infection, 3. Toxins, 4. Trauma ( from Ionizing radiation ) 5. Stress. If we eat well, practice proper hygiene, support our bodies detoxifying systems, primarily liver, skin, and elimination, protect from sun exposure ( sun screen ) and minimize the stress levels, we wont have to rely on Big Pharma telling us that we need there drugs to keep us healthy. You wouldn’t give drugs to someone to keep the healthy would you?? So why as a society do we rely on them so much? It dosen/t make sense. When I do get sick I see a Acupuncturist, Chiropractor, or herbalist first. Remember the saying let Food be Your Medicine and Medicine be your food and look for the cause of disease and practice prevention.

  75. #75 tomh
    October 11, 2012

    Food is not medicine. The rest of your comment is dangerous woo.

  76. #76 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    October 11, 2012

    Vaccination is not immunization and does not keep disease from spreading.

    Gosh Rick maybe you’d like to explain then how measles, mumps, rubella, Hib and polio mobidity just spontaneously declined.

    Once exposed to a virus or bacteria the body’s immune system is to recognize, respond appropriately, and remember so if you are exposed again it has a memory of that particular disease and can fight it off.

    Maybe Rick you could explain, with your superior knowledge of disease pathology and immunology how this works for say, tetanus and rabies? Or maybe infants who don’t mount adequate immune responses to polysaccharide-capsulated bacteria?

    The decline of communicable disease in modern civilization started with proper hygene, clean water, washing hands, and prevention. Unfortunately this all coincided with the introduction of vaccinations and of course their proponents took the credit for the decline of these diseases.

    Your knowledge of epidemiology is equally impressive Rick. Perhaps you could tell us how none of the VPD prevalences declined until mass vaccination and some e.g. polio and rubella morbidity and mortality increased with improved sanitation and living conditions.

    Everyone of my children got the chicken pox at the same time naturally and all are now immune to the disease.

    Ya sure about that Rick? Harken back to your supah dupah knowledge of immunology and maybe you will remember that a varicella infection does not confer lifelong immunity.

    I see who have the strongest defense against illness are the ones who eat healthy foods ( mainly plant based ), take vitamins daily, have a least one parent or grandparent at home to raise them, ( not in day care ) go to bed at a decent hour, and do not get vaccinated or if they do wait and slowly introduce only the vaccines that really are necessary.

    What have you got against working parents and daycare Rick? My children are vaccinated and healthy, in fact it’s the unvaccinated children we know who are routinely sick. How’s that for a monkey wrench in your pitiful, smug diatribe?

    Our bodies were made to fight against disease if given proper defense.

    Again, what is the “proper defence” against rabies and tetanus?

    When I do get sick I see a Acupuncturist, Chiropractor, or herbalist first.

    But why would you get sick at all given how well you take care of yourself?

  77. #77 Narad
    October 11, 2012

    Whether you get sick or not depends entirely on a strong and robust immune system.

    Cue the Spanish flu. Get some original material, man.

  78. #78 Lawrence
    October 11, 2012

    @ScienceMom – wow, Rick managed a trifecta, completing the Woo, Anti-Vaccine & Quack Bingo cards all in a single post.

  79. #79 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    October 11, 2012

    He did didn’t he Lawrence. Do these clowns work from a script?

  80. #80 Chris
    Neither here nor there...
    October 11, 2012

    They do work from a script. It is a blanket regurgitation of several websites (which all repeat each other).

    But he messed it up. Instead of “decline of communicable disease” is supposed to be the “decline of deaths.” Apparently mortality is the end-all measure that they insist on using, because the incidence of several of the diseases did not start until there was a vaccine. That includes polio, measles, mumps, Hib, etc.

  81. #81 Narad
    October 11, 2012

    But he messed it up.

    What do you expect from an antivax chiropractor?

  82. #82 Chris
    Neither here nor there...
    October 11, 2012

    Who will probably not come back. Though if he does I’ll ask him about measles morbidity after 1960.

  83. #83 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    October 11, 2012

    Apparently mortality is the end-all measure that they insist on using, because the incidence of several of the diseases did not start until there was a vaccine.

    Since he said “decline of communicable diseases” I just don’t think he even knows the difference between morbidity and mortality. And on and on they go repeating the same regurgitated bullshit they read on the ‘webz. And they call us sheeple.

  84. #84 JGC
    October 11, 2012

    When I do get sick I see a Acupuncturist, Chiropractor, or herbalist first.

    Why an acupunturist, when it has been factually established that acupuncture performs no better than placebo treatments?

    Why a chiropracter, when the central principle of chiropractic–subluxations exist and cause illness–has been proven false?

    Why an herbalist, when herbal remedies (if they do contain biologically active compounds) simply represent a drug at an unknown concentration offered in a formulation containing multiple (and often unknown or uncharacterized) contaminants (also all at unknown concentration)?

  85. #85 Darwy
    Røde grøde med fløde
    October 11, 2012

    @JGC

    Because ‘natural’ is superior to ‘chemical’ (ie: pharmaceutical) in their minds.

    They forget that someone somewhere is profiting handsomely from their ‘herbal’ cures, the ‘adjustments’ that *almost* work (so come back again next week!) and the like.

  86. #86 tomh
    October 14, 2012

    In a rare win, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the District Court’s ruling that denied a religious exemption from the requirement that their child be vaccinated in order to enroll in public school, because the parents failed to show a genuine and sincere religious belief as required by New York state law.

  87. #87 Narad
    October 14, 2012

    Such cases aren’t that rare in New York. Caviezel (all three of the cases, actually) is of precedential utility, though, to be sure.

  88. #88 Narad
    October 14, 2012

    (Oh, and this began as another Patricia Finn joint. The Caviezels do not appear to have been satisfied with her counsel.)

  89. #89 Shay
    October 14, 2012

    When you hire a fruitcake for legal counsel, you’ve got nothing to complain about.

  90. #90 tomh
    October 15, 2012

    It shows that while in god-soaked America you may not be able to get rid of religious exemptions, there is value in limiting the philosophical belief exemptions, as happened in California.

  91. #91 Christine Rogers
    Sacramento
    November 1, 2012

    In three words, “Here! Here! Orac!”

  92. #92 N. Daniel
    Sacramento
    November 17, 2012

    Once again, worshippers of that great idol, Science, seek to compel others to blaspheme their own God and rape their own conscience by forcing them to bow to their golden image. It’s Nebuchadnezzar all over again.

  93. #93 Michael
    California
    December 11, 2012

    1. Have Vaccines been proven safe?
    2. If my child takes a vaccine and gets injured, I want One Billion Dollars. (Vaccine comapnies have NO LIABILITY)
    3. Have vaccines EVER hurt anyone? (Hell Yes!)
    4. Does anyone have the authority to force you to take a harmful shot? Apparently so!
    5. Those who think that a vaccine is a good thing, go and get yours and leave the rest of us alone.
    6. This bill is a gradual step. The time is coming one they will try to force us ALL to take dangerous shots… for the health of everyone, of course.

The site is currently under maintenance and will be back shortly. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.