Last week, the Great Lakes Justice Center provided expert testimony before the House Education Reform Committee. The testimony of Distinguished Professor Emeritus William Wagner and Attorney Erin Elizabeth Mersino explained how current administrative regulations, imposed on parents opting out of vaccines, violate the U.S. and Michigan Constitutions. Some parents want to opt out of vaccines due to medical reasons. Other seek to opt out due to sincere religious conscience. For example, because vaccines have connections to fetal tissue from abortions, some parents, as a matter of conscience, object. During the hearing, the Committee considered House Bills 4425 and 4426, which would walk back overreaching regulations imposed unilaterally by Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services. The regulations unjustly burden parents opting out of vaccinating their children.
- The regulations allow school administrators to remove healthy, non-immunized children from the public schools for a period of 21 days, if a child within the school contracts a communicable illness. The removal of the child from the educational environment raises serious concerns under the Michigan Constitution and Michigan’s Homebound School Act.
- The regulations were enacted to burden parent’s ability to opt out of vaccinations due to religious or philosophical reasons. Therefore, the regulations do not present parents with the least restrictive method of carrying out their religious and philosophical beliefs.
- The regulations, enacted by an overzealous executive agency and never voted on by either the legislature or the people, is a concerning government power grab that violates the separation of powers.
- The regulations violate First Amendment free speech by compelling parents to adopt the belief that vaccinations benefit children and assume liability if their child or any other child becomes ill.
The regulations state:
Each nonmedical exemption filed at the child’s school or group program of a child entering a program after December 31, 2014 shall be certified by the local health department that the individual received education on the risks of not receiving the vaccines being waived and the benefits of vaccination to the individual and the community. All waivers shall be submitted using the waiver form prescribed by the department.
The penalty for not completing the immunization certification is that the child, albeit healthy, is not allowed to attend the public schools. Prior to January 2015, parents could simply decide whether the aggressive schedule of vaccinations imposed by Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services was healthy for their child, dangerous for their child, or conflicted with their family’s religious or philosophical beliefs. Then, the school administrators recorded the parents’ decision on a form provided by the child’s school. Now, the administrative regulations require that parents schedule an appointment with the local health department.
Employees of the local health department “re-educate” the parents on their religious and philosophical beliefs, argue with parents that their beliefs are wrong, and, if a parent still wishes to opt of vaccines, the parent is forced to sign a waiver stating that he/she is putting their “child and others at risk of serious illness.” The form also requires to affirm the statement that vaccinations “could have prevented” the child from contracting serious illness.
During the hearing, Representative Hornberger pointed out that, in most cases, illnesses are spread and contracted, not by non-immunized children, but by fully immunized children. Representative Hornberger also noted that healthy non-immunized children pose no health risk. Attorney Joel Dorfman of Michigan for Vaccine Choice echoed that recent vaccines have a low success rate in preventing illness. Unfortunately, the House Bills did not receive enough votes to get out of committee. The Great Lakes Justice Center continues its fight to protect parental rights, protect the citizenry from unjust governmental overreach, and to defend the Michigan and U.S. Constitutions.
The Great Lakes Justice Center is a non-profit corporation dealing with First Amendment liberties and other civil rights issues. The attorneys at the center have spent countless hours to protect parental rights and are grateful to minister to such an important cause. To help contribute to the court costs and defense of these rights and to support the Great Lakes Justice Center’s important work that protects our nation’s first freedoms, please visit www.greatlakesjc.org.