Texas Wins Conscientious Exemption!
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|Mon, 06-02-2003 - 3:07pm|
Almost certain to become law, since it is part of other, sure to be signed, legislation, but also because the governor has gone on record in the past as supporting a conscientious exemption for Texas parents.
From PROVE (http://vaccineinfo.net/index.shtml) ; "After 7 years of working to get a conscientious/philosophical exemption in Texas, I would like to let you know that one was finally passed last night. Unless the Governor vetoes the bill which contains it (it is highly unlikely because the bill restructures Health and Human Services Agencies saving the Texas Taxpayers over one billion dollars), Texas can now be added to the states that have a conscientious exemption.
If accepted by the governor, the law would go into effect for September 1, 2003. The details of how this will work with the upcoming school year and overlapping statutes with the beginning of school will have to be worked out since most schools in Texas start before September 1.
While the language is not what we had worked on and is far from ideal by our standards because it actually makes it more difficult to use the exemption than the current law (you will now have to really plan ahead and use a state created form that can only be obtained from the health department and then have it notarized before submitting the letter to the school), the exemption is far more encompassing than current law as it would include anybody who wanted to use it "for reasons of conscience, including a religious belief." We believe this may help parents who are subjected to the current religious inquisitions and harassment at schools and day care facilities since a signed notarized standardized state exemption form is not subject to debate over validity by school or day care admission like our letters are now. It is unfortunate though that parents will have to go through the hurdle of having to make a written request to the Health Department to obtain the form and then have it notarized instead of a per
We are very excited about another provision in this same bill that prohibits a health and human services agency (including the Health Department and Child Protective Services) from taking punitive action against a parent for not immunizing their child. Here the definition of punitive action includes "the initiation of an investigation of a person responsible for a child's care, custody, or welfare for alleged or suspected abuse, or neglect of a child." In other words, we finally have it in law that for those of us choosing to refuse or delay a vaccine, Child Protective Services cannot be used as a club to coerce or scare parents. A parent's decision will have to be respected and protected. This is an incredible acknowledgement by the state in favor of parental rights. Educating parents about this provision in law will give them the strength to stand up to the coercive doctors who threaten CPS if the child is not given every shot under the sun. "