By Sen. Marianne Moore
In the election to be held on “Super Tuesday,” March 3, Maine voters will be asked to whether they wish to repeal the law that eliminated religious and philosophical exemptions from vaccination requirements for K-12 and college students and employees of healthcare facilities.
While this election is a primary for each party, any registered voter, regardless of party affiliation, may go to the polls and request a ballot solely for Question One. In fact, voters can vote absentee in this way or by going to the town office or city hall and taking advantage of “early voting.”
I am no anti-vaccine advocate. I had my own children immunized when they were youngsters and I do not regret that decision. I do, however, feel parents should have the right to decide how, when, and which vaccines their children should receive.
By forcing every child in Maine’s public schools to be immunized before being allowed to continue their enrollment, state government is effectively violating the rights of children whose families choose not to have these vaccinations. By taking away their access to a “free and appropriate public education” we are forcing them to find an educational alternative that is cost prohibitive, especially for lower-income Maine families. For these families, denial of a free public education is a denial of any education at all.
At the same time, this bill does not fully protect schools and students from the diseases that vaccines are designed to prevent. There are no previsions in the bill addressing teachers, adults on campus, bus drivers, sports event attendees, and others who come into regular contact with students in schools but who do not have to prove they have been vaccinated.
Families who have a moral, philosophical, or religious objection to vaccinating their own children should also have the right to be free from government action that seeks to force them to inject potentially dangerous chemicals into the bodies of their children.
Question One, as worded on the March 3 ballot, would “reinstate the law allowing for religious and philosophical exemptions from vaccination requirements.” And for this reason, I support the repeal of the law and a vote of Yes on Question One.
Senator Marianne Moore represents Senate District 6 in the Maine State Senate.