New Jersey is a state like any other in the United States. It has borders, it has state taxes (high, I might add), it has grocery stores, and it is embroiled in a battle over vaccine ethics.
As it stands, New Jersey parents are permitted by the state to write a letter saying, “immunization interferes with the free exercise,” and officially opt their children out of a slew of vaccines. However, the state now plans to vote on a measure closing this “loophole” and making it much tougher on parents who want to opt their kids out of vaccines.
Herb Conaway, D-Burlington, is not only a doctor, but he’s also an Assemblyman for the Assembly Health Committee. The committee is set to vote on a bill that forces parents to be more specific in their opt-out letters. According to the bill, opting out can’t simply be based on “solely on political, sociological, philosophical or moral views, or concerns about the safety or efficacy of the vaccination.”
Conaway is admitting that his offices have been “flooded” with disapproval calls.
“We’ve walked over the coals before and the phone lines are ringing,” Conaway said. “This is the process and people have a right to voice their opinion. We will hear them and take our time.”
According to the story posted on NJ.com, the newly elected governor of New Jersey, Phil Murphy, has not been involved in any capacity regarding the new bill. However, Conaway is confident that the bill will pass.
“I have been assured he does believe science ought to guide decisions involving health care,” he said.
Sue Collins, co-founder for the New Jersey Alliance for Informed Choice in Vaccination, which has fought the legislation for years, said she and other parents are dismayed by how quickly and quietly the Health Committee is moving on the bill. The legislation, (A3818) will be introduced and voted on Thursday, which is unusual.
“What’s really concerning and troubling is the bill was added Thursday at 5 o’clock, leading into a religious holiday weekend, and backing up to spring break. Many families this would effect are not even here,” Collins said. “Ethically and morally, it seems very clear this is designed to cut the public out of the process.”
The bill, itself, is vague, Collins said. “Who is deciding whether the people’s beliefs are valid but somebody else’s beliefs may not be?”
In case you were wondering, here is Conaway’s office number: (856) 461-3997. Maybe he needs to hear from a few more people?