SACRAMENTO, CA, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) — California Gov. Jerry Brown signed controversial legislation Tuesday denying parents their conscience protection and religious liberty rights by forcing them to vaccinate their children for access to any school or daycare in the state.
As of July 1, 2016, California parents will no longer have the option to cite personal or religious beliefs to decline required vaccinations when enrolling their children in school, whether public or private, as a result of S.B. 277’s passage. Children with existing religious or personal belief exemption will have one more year to comply.
Brown’s signature on the legislation means California joins Mississippi and West Virginia as the only three U.S. states to deny religious or personal belief exemptions for vaccination.
The vaccination bill was one of the most provocative in this year’s California legislature, with large, vocal crowds of protesters regularly gathering in opposition, and threatening legal action to block the new requirements.
The law’s reach extends to every “public or private elementary or secondary school, child care center, day nursery, nursery school, family day care home, or development center” in the state, and while the medical exemption still applies, opponents say qualifying for that is burdensome, and is often only issued once a catastrophic adverse vaccine reaction has already occurred.
Critics and advocates of parental rights decried the law’s passage.
“This bill was an unjustified intrusion into the rights of parents to raise and nurture their children the way they see fit,” stated Republican Assemblyman Chad Mayes, who voted no on S.B. 277.
“Civil disobedience is the correct response to S.B. 277 being signed,” the pro-family group SaveCalifornia.com said in a statement.
“Parental rights — the right to raise and educate your own children — predates any written law,” said the group’s President Randy Thomasson. “A God-given, natural right must be exercised no matter how unjust the State is.”
“SB 277 unjustly tramples parental rights, religious freedom, and medical freedom on controversial vaccines,” he added.
Former California Assemblyman and Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly said the vaccination law is a violation of religious liberty and infringement of parental rights.
“With the stroke of a pen, Gov. Brown took away a really important choice for parents to make. I just believe that decision belongs to the parents, not the government,’’ Donnelly stated. “This is not about vaccination. This is about choice.”
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He said that opposition to S.B. 277 stretches across political, racial, and economic lines, and he filed paperwork with the State Attorney General’s office Wednesday for a state-wide referendum on the law.
Supporters will have 180 days to collect signatures from at least 365,880 registered voters for the 2016 ballot, the California Secretary of State’s office said.
The bill’s authors, Democrat Sens. Richard Pan and Ben Allen, testified erroneously before an April State Senate Judiciary hearing that no vaccines are made from aborted fetal cells and that the Catholic Church supported their controversial legislation.
Catholics called upon the state’s bishops to act in upholding parental rights and oppose the legislation, but the bishops’ official policy arm, the California Catholic Conference, did not take a position on S.B. 277.