HB 5044

H.B. No. 5044 (Raised) An Act Concerning Immunizations (the “bill”) proposes to eliminate the religious exemption to vaccination. This proposal has become a perennial favorite, notwithstanding that it perennially fails to gain traction. I strongly encourage legislators to allow it to fail again this term.

Irina Comer

Much ink has been spilled discussing the constitutionality of mandatory inoculation programs, from the original U.S. Supreme Court precedent in Jacobson to various federal appellate decisions in more recent years. However unwise it may be to extend the legal reasoning supporting emergency action to curtail a turn of the 20th century effort to suppress a smallpox epidemic to all manner of immunizations, such narrow inquiries miss the broader points.

First and foremost, as a broad matter, no one is better positioned to make decisions regarding the safety, health, and well-being of their children than are their parents. When government seeks to intrude on this decision-making, its grounds should be clear, compelling, narrow, and accountable. The bill fails on at least the latter two of these points, extending well beyond the free public primary and secondary schools guaranteed by the Constitution of the State of Connecticut, and delegating most of the important mandatory immunization determinations to a commission the members of which are not elected by Connecticut voters.

The bill goes well beyond a slippery slope – it represents a path that, once traveled, may prove impossible to retrace. Where is the line between what a consort of unelected Mandarins would prefer that we or our children do and what is actually necessary to prevent an epidemic of contagion? No one knows, least of all the bill sponsor. And the bill proposing to absolve the legislature of responsibility for such decisions, to whom may we turn to draw that important line? Certainly not our State Attorney William Tong, who lacks the backbone to draw such a line in the face of his party, and may well lack the ability to articulate such a line in the first place.

One can and should quibble about the appropriate balance between the state’s police power and its citizen’s religious and other freedoms, because that balance of competing freedoms is inherently important to the existence and livelihood of our state. But wherever one finds that balance, the usurping exercise of police power should be exercised by elected officials accountable to their electorate. Moreover, those elected officials should take great care to exercise only so much of that police power as is absolutely necessary to achieve its compelling interest in health and well-being.

Any greater liberties taken with such powers necessarily imperil the liberties otherwise enjoyed by our fellow citizens, and that should give all of us great pause.

Irina Comer is a Republican candidate for State Representative, 142nd District, which represents parts of Norwalk and New Canaan. 

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11 Comments

  1. Nonsense. Personal liberty doesn’t entitle one to endanger the health of the community. Measles doesn’t pass a kid by because of liberty.

    1. Measles is a benign childhood infection, not a life-threatening disease. Thousands of children in the U.S. have been profoundly harmed by the MMR. How many children have been equally harmed by the measles? Are you aware that there were only four cases of measles in CT in 2019, and only one was a child? No one died, nor did anyone suffer irreparable harm. Are you aware that today’s children in the U.S. receive 72 vaccines from birth-18? In the 1960s we got three vaccines. In the 1980s U.S. children got 24 vaccines. Why do children now need 72 vaccines? Back in the 1960s few children had chronic illness. In the 1980s the rate was 12%, and in 2020 we have a 54% rate of chronic illness among children in the US. Connect the dots!

      1. I am an MD and I am afraid you are misinformed. Measles is not benign. 3-5 infected kids with normal immunity out of 1000 will suffer permanent brain disease or die. There were over 1000 cases last year in the US. The rate form immunosuppressed children is higher, in addition to a deadly late complication Subacute Sclerosing Pan Encephalitis, an untreatable brain disease.

        There is no scientific evidence that measles vaccine leads to chronic illness. The study that started the Autism scare has been proven to be fraudulent. If you want to put your child at risk dying of an easily preventable disease, I guess our laws cant stop you but no one should have the right to put someone else’s kids at risk, which is the result when immunity falls below 95% in a school.

        If todays political climate were prevalent in the 1950s we would still have kids on respirators from polio and smallpox epidemics
        If Covid 19 starts here will these parents refuse this vaccination? Everytime a parent whose unvaccinated child dies of influenza is interviewed the first words out of their mouth are “ If only I had them vaccinated”.

      2. I had a second cousin who died of measles. It was many years ago and would not have happened today. I think the anti-vaccines people have to realize that their rights end where the public’s rights begin. Maybe we need to a new type of magnet school, just for unvaccinated children

  2. “… no one is better positioned to make decisions regarding the safety, health, and well-being of their children than are their parents.”
    Perhaps – if there are 2 parents who are actually actively involved in developing and teaching their children. Our society is a bit lacking in that regard.
    “… the usurping exercise of police power should be exercised by elected officials accountable to their electorate.”
    Agreed. But this applies to a whole host of government entities, including those like Transportation Commissions (read: Tolls).

  3. HB5044 is an Orwellian example of government over-reach. Lining the pockets of Big Pharma, this bill usurps parents’ rights to religious freedom and medical independence for their children. It also affects adults in Connecticut colleges, coercing them to inject toxins in their veins while holding hostage their education.

  4. There is no greater freedom than health, and no greater prison than a life-threatening illness that could have been prevented. Parents are not always the best authorities on their children’s safety. Babies die because parents put their children in the hands of irresponsible sitters, inappropriately seat them in their cars or leave them alone in cars. Children disappear because they are not watched. Most parents are adequate, but not all, so children need some outside protection. The claim made by thousands of parents in the state that they oppose immunization for religious reasons also stretches belief. Has anyone asked for proof of membership for the past few years in one of the small denominations that opposes vaccines? I doubt that most dissenters could qualify. Here is a list of denominations in the U.S. and their stances from Vanderbilt University: https://www.vumc.org/health-wellness/news-resource-articles/immunizations-and-religion.

  5. “First and foremost, as a broad matter, no one is better positioned to make decisions regarding the safety, health, and well-being of their children than are their parents. ”

    But what gives someone the right to make decisions regarding the safety, health, and well-being of the children that belong to someone else?

    Maybe children that are not vaccinated should be home schooled instead.

  6. Re: “First and foremost, as a broad matter, no one is better positioned to make decisions regarding the safety, health, and well-being of their children than are their parents.” 

    Uh, no. This is not true at all. Being a parent does not magically make one the ultimate expert on everything that could ever affect one’s child. Far from it, in fact. Parents are often too close to their children, and the things they face, to objectively understand the risks. 

    In this case, to assume parents know more about medicine than actual doctors who’ve done real research on immunizations, is not only absurd, it’s dangerous. Parents are not automatically public-health experts simply by virtue of having children. 

    It’s time for parents — who already ought to be mature adults — to act their ages, accept their own personal limitations, and also accept what science has to say on the matter, instead of letting their own primitive impulses take over. 

  7. I believe an evidence-based approach is the only appropriate way to inform this issue. This requires analyzing and comparing the probabilities and outcomes on both an individual basis and on a public health basis. A multitude of studies have been done in both areas.

    From that analysis, a balanced approach that includes considerations for both civil liberties and the public good must be reached. One does not trump the other out of hand.

    A candidate for public office making only a philosophical argument in favor of one side and ignoring medical evidence has a seriously deficient and unconvincing platform.

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