September 2019 Church & State Magazine - September 2019

New York Vaccination Law Challenged In Court

  Rob Boston

A recently enacted New York law that ends religious exemptions for mandatory vaccines is being attacked in court.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an attorney and prominent denier of the effectiveness of vaccines, filed the lawsuit in July on behalf of 55 families that had previously received religious exemptions from mandatory vaccinations for their children.

Under New York’s new law, any child attending a public or private school must be vaccinated against an array of childhood diseases, and religiously based exemptions are no longer granted. State legislators took action after an outbreak of measles in parts of New York, including areas populated by Orthodox Jews.

The Albany Times-Union reported that Kennedy and attorney Michael Sussman argue in court papers that New York’s decision to end religious exemptions “unreasonably” interferes with religious freedom.

“To deprive families of the rights to freedom of religious expression, parental rights, and the right to either a public or private education, the state must demonstrate a ‘compelling state interest’ that the state has failed to prove here,” reads the court filings.

Kennedy is a well-known proponent of the claim that vaccines cause autism, a view that has been debunked by mainstream science. (F.F. v. State of New York)

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