by Ginger Taylor
Yesterday, Maine's LD 798 to implement mandatory vaccination for Maine daycare, preschool, school children (public and private, IEP and 504 kids), college students, and health care workers has passed out of committee with a 8 - 5 split decision OUGHT TO PASS. Vote was on party lines, democrats recognizing that the bill violated minority and religious rights, but that it should be done for "The Greater Good."
The bill has been amended to push back implementation to September of 2021 and to allow for an unrestricted medical exemptions. LD 798 will go to the Maine House.
The Republicans on the Education Committee issued statements following the hearing:
“This bill targets a minority who represent 5% of our student population for the purpose of segregating and marginalizing a small group of our children using coercive measures and threatens to force them to comply or be expelled. There are more prudent measures we could implement to achieve the accurate data to make the most informed decision.” - Rep. Heidi Sampson (R-Alfred)
LD #798 will affect workforce development and adult learners, whether they have been immunized or not, because they will need to locate their records instead taking a philosophical exemption. This can be frustrating for someone who decided to go back to school after many years. The cost to University of Maine system, the Maine Community College system and our private higher education institutions has not been quantified.” - Rep. Shelley Rudnicki (R-Fairfield)
“There are serious constitutional concerns in regards to LD 798. It demarcates and segregates a new minority in Maine. Poor families, who have no choice but to comply, will have to override their bodily autonomy and receive an invasive procedure against their consent. This is egregious legislation that flies in the face of liberty.” – Rep. Justin Fecteau (R-Augusta)
“We are not anti-vaccination, we are just looking for a little common sense before we violate the civil rights of Maine families without complete information or some assurance that this will result in improved public health. - Rep. Gary Drinkwater (R-Milford)
All Committee Republicans today opposed the mandatory immunization bill (LD 798), because it overrides parental consent, violates body autonomy and targets a minority of children and parents seeking to opt out of vaccinations on philosophical and religious grounds.
School districts could lose up to $75 million if several thousand children lose their religious and medical exemptions and are prevented from attending school. All Committee Democrats voted for the bill, despite the lack of a demonstrated need for the bill, a lack of consistent data for a science-based decision and over the objections of thousands of Maine parents who contacted them."
I will be offering full coverage on the events in Maine soon.