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SPRINGFIELD, February 17, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — A Democrat lawmaker in Illinois has introduced legislation that would repeal the state’s current religious exemptions for children whose parents object to certain medical exams or immunizations, sparking a confrontation over religious liberty.

Introduced by Democrat state senator Heather Steans, Senate Bill 3668 would remove existing language “exempting children from medical examinations and immunizations” if a parent determines that a treatment “conflict[s] with his or her religious tenets or practices.” It applies to minors starting at age 14.

Alarmingly, the bill also opens the door to classifying a child as “neglected or abused” solely because a parent refused or delayed vaccination, which would make parents guilty of at least a misdemeanor and could conceivably expose them to a range of consequences, potentially including loss of parental rights and having their children taken away.

Illinois currently makes vaccination against twelve different illnesses a condition of entering the public school system: diphtheria, haemophilus influenzae type b, hepatitis B, measles, meningococcal conjugate, mumps, pertussis, pneumococcal conjugate, polio, rubella, tetanus, and varicella.

Forty-five states plus the District of Columbia currently allow parents to opt their children out of vaccination requirements on religious grounds; fifteen allow parents to opt their children out on non-religious moral or philosophical grounds.

“We cannot cede more authority to the state over the lives of our children and families, and we cannot remain silent in the face of these overt attacks on parental rights and religious liberty,” the Illinois Family Institute (IFI) declared in response to S.B. 3668. “This is not an issue for politicians! This is a decision that should be made by parents and their pediatricians.” 

While the media often fixate on parents who oppose vaccines over their potential to injure children who receive them, they tend to overlook another group that supports vaccines in general while having an ethical conflict with vaccines derived from aborted babies’ cells.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration currently approves a number of vaccines produced using two cell lines, MRC-5 and WI-38, obtained from 1960s-era elective abortions. Some families choose not to vaccinate their children against certain diseases because the only vaccines available for them in the U.S. are derived from these lines.

Ethical alternatives do exist and could resolve the problem. “Measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines can all be produced in non-fetal cell lines,” molecular biologist and Charlotte Lozier Institute scholar Dr. Tara Sander Lee told Congress in December 2018. “The measles vaccine is produced in chicken eggs, human amnion cells from term placentas, and human kidney cultures from surgical samples[.] … Fetal cell lines are still in use today in the U.S. However, an ethical alternative is available in Japan.”

Concerned Illinois residents can contact their state lawmakers and express their opposition to S.B. 3668 by clicking here.