House Bill 5044 in Connecticut will repeal the religious exemptions for school vaccinations that made it into Connecticut law in 1959 when ‘Merica was in the middle of the cold war with the godless communists of the Soviet Union. The current law really wasn’t much of a public health problem until recently. Back in the day, most folks actually followed the tenets of their religions. Since most major religions have no dogma against vaccinations, most Connecticut residents had their children vaccinated.
However, as more and more religious folks decide to cherry pick which dogma to follow and which ones to make up for themselves regardless of what their religions actually purport or their religious leaders say, it has become a problem. The rise of anti-science and anti-vaxxer misinformation has lead many parents to question whether or not they should vaccinate their children and the result is a significant rise in unvaccinated school children here in Connecticut. So Governor Lamont, the CT Department of Public Health, and The Connecticut General Assembly are performing their duty to protect the public health by repealing this glaring and exploited loophole.
Members of the Secular Coalition for Connecticut and the Connecticut Coalition of Reason submitted testimony in support of HB 5044 to repeal the exemption. Several members including Cary Shaw (President of the Humanists and Freethinkers of Fairfield County), Dennis Paul Himes (CT State Director for American Atheists), George Unser (member HFFC), Amy Ewing (member HFFC), John Levin (Board of Directors for the Secular Coalition for America), and Pat McCan (Chair of the Secular Coalition for Connecticut and Assistant State Director for American Atheists) all testified in person.
Those folks testifying against the bill fell into two camps 1) clear misinformed anti-vaxxers, most of whom were loud and obnoxious and 2) people who were in desperate need of a true medical exemption that they could not obtain. Fortunately, the bill was written to make it easier for people who need real medical exemptions the ability to get them so they they don’t have to rely on the lie that it is their religion that keeps them from vaccinating their children.
While the bill advanced out of committee to an eventual floor vote, it was amended to grandfather in the 7,800 unvaccinated loopholers setting Connecticut up for potential and unnecessary future epidemics that will cost tax-payer in the long run.
Video of the team’s testimony can be seen here starting at 7:41:11. Pat McCann’s Testimony (at 1:40am the next day) can be seen here beginning at 15:00:50.