By all accounts, SB 276 will come out of the suspense docket next week. That means it goes for a vote in the Assembly and presumably back to the Senate to consider the amendments made during its travels through the Assembly, then to a Senate vote, and if it passes, on to the Governor’s desk.
Caveat: I am not an expert on the California legislative process. Nonetheless, I do have opinions on what I think might impress the legislators and what won’t.
First, here are the loser arguments in order of loser-ness:
The Biggest Loser argument: “I have a constitutional right and absolute freedom not to vaccinate my child and send him/her to public school.”
No, you don’t! That argument was made in at least four different SB 277 lawsuits, and it lost every time. You may have that right someplace, but not in California.
The Second Biggest Loser argument: “It will cost a lot of money to put SB 276 in place.”
The job of government is to protect the public. In the public health context, whatever it takes to protect the public from risks identified by the authorities designated to make such decisions is cheap at 10 times the cost. Money is irrelevant to avoid a perceived/misperceived/manufactured public health crises.
The Third Biggest Loser argument: “If the law passes, thousands of vaccine aware families will leave the state.”
As my grandfather used to say, “Don’t let the door bump you in the ass as you leave.” Respectfully, and as you most likely know, at this point in time, the vaccine aware are considered the modern-day lepers. There are recent examples of official and social actions against unvaccinated children. In this environment, you’d be more apt to get an offer of bus fare out of the state than support from most legislators if you argue that the vaccine concerned will leave if the bill passes. Actually, making life more difficult for you, if and after SB 276 passes is probably in the cards, all with an eye to accomplish exactly what you are threatening them with, namely the exodus of the vaccine aware from California. So, don’t make their day.
The Fourth Worst argument: “Doctors should be making these decisions, not state officials.” The recent amendment puts an appeals process in place where the review of physician exemptions is in the hands of physician specialists, not public health officials. That was the criticism of early versions of the bill, and it was addressed and changed.
What about the variation of the argument that a physician who has seen the patient has to have the final say on a medical exemption?
The problem is that SB 276 was supposedly introduced to eliminate the handful of physicians writing fake exemptions. Of course, to date, there are no board orders making such conclusions, but there are several doctors under investigation for doing so, as has been recently reported in several NorCal papers. So, while I would not say it’s a complete loser argument, I don’t see it swaying many legislators in light of all the drumbeat pounding out the fake exemption narrative. But for sure, it might be worth a shot.
Ok, so what is the best arguments to make to legislators?
I wish I knew, but I don’t.
But what I can tell you is what impresses and moves me, and what keeps me up nights: The stories of the families of the vaccine injured. Most of these(you) folks never gave much thought to vaccination and followed your pediatricians’ advice and the “proven” vaccine schedule, and then something bad happened after one of these visits. Most of you haven’t or couldn’t prove causation in vaccine court, and many have other children. Few or none of you will qualify for a medical exemption under CDC guidelines for either your vaccine injured child or your other children, and you are being asked to sacrifice your other child/children for the greater good on the alter of “evidenced-based guidelines.” For most of you, that’s an unacceptable option, and understandably so.
Even back when Congress passed the national vaccine immunity act in the mid 80’s Congress knew that there would be a small number of children who would permanently disabled from the 22 doses of the 7 or so vaccines given back then, despite the CDC guidelines or vaccine package inserts. The problem then and now is that despite CDC guidelines, children are still being injured by vaccines and there’s no accurate way to predict injury, witness your child. One child sacrificed ought to be enough. That won’t be possible under SB 276.
So, the most effective argument you can make with your legislator is to tell your story.
I know you already know that. Call this reaffirmance of what you are doing and will continue to do.
Rick Jaffe, Esq.