The state Assembly passed a closely watched bill Thursday compelling school children to be fully vaccinated, approving the measure on a 46-30 vote that blurred party lines.
The legislation, which sparked furious protests from worried parents, heads next to the Senate for a vote on amendments taken in the Assembly before it can go to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk. The bill passed the Senate by a comfortable 25-10 margin in May, and while the Democratic governor has taken no official stance, he has called vaccines "profoundly important.”
Perhaps no bill this year has fomented the same level of passion as Senate Bill 277, which would erase the broad personal belief exemption that allows California parents to enroll children who have not received the entire range of recommended shots. Proponents argue it would protect public health by shoring up a key bulwark against the spread of disease, while its critics say it removes parents’ ability to decide which vaccines their children receive.Patrick McGreevy reports at The Los Angeles Times:
“As a mother, I understand the decisions we make abour our children’s health care are deeply personal,” said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), a supporter of the bill. “While I respect the fundamental right to make that decision as a family, we must balance that with the fact that none of us has the right to endanger others.”
Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Glendale) opposed the bill, telling his colleagues before the vote that it violated the rights of parents to decide medical treatment for their children.
"The broadness of this bill likely dooms it from a constitutional standpoint" Gatto said, accusing the state of "infringing on the rights of children to attend school."
Supporters said it was necessary to protect all children.
"I'm a fierce supporter of parent choice in this decision. But I also believe with choice comes personal responsibility" said Republican Assemblywoman Catharine Baker of San Ramon.Tracy Seipel and Jessica Calefati report at The San Jose Mercury News:
The governor's staff has said Brown "believes that vaccinations are profoundly important and a major public health benefit and any bill that reaches his desk will be closely considered."
But it's unknown whether or not Brown would allow the religious exemption to be dropped from the current bill.
In 2012, then-assemblyman Pan helped pass a bill aimed at tightening the state's vaccine law by requiring parents who wanted to exempt their children from the shots meet with a healthcare professional.