Last week, the Supreme Court of New York ruled that a new amendment to a current law was not legal. The amendment was to a mandatory vaccination bill which would have added in, after the fact, required flu vaccination shots for school children. A few parents sued the city over the matter and well, they won. Anti-vaccination and anti-forced-vaccination proponents celebrated the ruling by New York Supreme Court Justice Manuel J. Mendez as a small victory in what’s been a long battle.
Above the Law, a blog focused on legal ramblings, has taken major issue with the judge’s ruling and has posted a new article attempting to undermine the ruling by hoping to start a grass roots campaign to attempt to fight anti-vaccination legal proceedings or ongoings.
But on the second point, the opinion’s effect is terrible as a matter of public policy because it not only ignores the decision’s broader effects, but actually lends credence to some of the parents’ policy arguments in considering whether to issue an injunction preventing the flu-vaccine rule from taking effect. In fact, it appears to hold that forcing parents to inoculate their children against the flu constitutes irreparable harm. That’s nonsense. Not only are vaccines a boon to those receiving them, but they’re a boon to the entire population when more people receive them. They’re a boon even to folks who, against all medical and scientific evidence, deny vaccines’ effectiveness and irrationally link them to negative health outcomes. And the flip side is true, too. The more you leave vaccination to chance, the less benefit vaccines offer to the public — including the majority of people who accept science and recognize that vaccines work.
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And that’s why we need an organized legal response to the so-called anti-vaxxers. Their wrongness harms everyone. Overcoming their wrongness helps everyone — even them.
But while there are plenty of organizations out there advocating in favor of vaccines and singing paeans to their effectiveness, there seems to be a void in the field of pro-vaccine legal advocacy. We need a savvy and well-informed organization to keep an ear out for cases like the one in New York and intervene or file amicus briefs. Maybe that happened here — I don’t know for sure. But perhaps an amicus brief would at least have prevented the Justice who issued the recent New York decision from writing that, if the rule had stood, the parents would have been “irreparably harmed by being forced to have their children take the flu shot or forego day care and/or kindergarten,” when science tells us that vaccination would actually have benefited both the children and New York residents at large.
So, whaddaya think. Anyone out there want to start a national organization dedicated to fighting anti-vaxxers’ court efforts to undermine public health?
It would be easy to overlook this piece as somewhat a trifling piece of sore loser correspondence, but the fact is, this could reflect the future of the anti-vaccination movement. The battleground continues to become more and more hostile and divided. Propaganda such as this definitely holds some place in influence, absurd and dejected as it sounds. Clearly, this already happens at the greater level but to grow via a site which appeals to those in the legal world shows just how sore the losers in these cases likely are and how far they are willing to go.
The NYC case shows that some level of justice still presides in the corner of parental rights. It shows that all is not lost (yet). But it also shows the depth of fear many have over allowing justice to work both ways.
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