Score one for public health and science. A New York City federal judge has ruled against three families who claimed their rights were violated when the city enforced its immunization policies. Specifically, Judge Kuntz upheld the New York City policy that bars unimmunized children from public school when another student has a vaccine-preventable illness. In a case pitting an individual's right to refuse vaccinations against the government's ability to require them, Kuntz cited a 1905 ruling that upheld a $5 fine for a man who refused vaccination during a small pox outbreak.
Two of the three families involved in the suit claimed that the policy violates their first amendment right to religious freedom and their 14th amendment right to equal protection under the law. Of note, the parents in this case did receive religious exemption. So what's the fuss about? The state enforced a rule specifically barring their children from school when there were cases of chickenpox among the student body. These parents were exempt from vaccines but sued for the right to place their unvaccinated children in a crowd of students infected with a dangerous virus. I'll just leave that there.
The third family sued over denial of religious exemption. Luckily while Dina Check continues her crusade to raise a disease susceptible child, she was able to enroll her daughter in a private school more lenient with the health and well being of their students. Check found religion during pregnancy* and ultimately turned against vaccines when her daughter was "intoxicated" by vaccines and developed a series of allergies and infections. I was ready to spend hours refuting this idea, but cannot really argue with the foundation of her argument:
"Disease is pestilence," Ms. Check said, "and pestilence is from the devil. The devil is germs and disease, which is cancer and any of those things that can take you down. But if you trust in the Lord, these things cannot come near you."
New York State law requires children to receive vaccinations before beginning school, unless the parent shows religious reservations or a doctor exempts them. Judge Kuntz "strongly suggested that religious objectors are not constitutionally exempt from vaccinations."
The plaintiffs obviously intend to appeal the decision.
*By many accounts pregnancy is awful, so if finding God gets you through it, more power to you. Her request for religious exemption came after she was denied medical exemption, making it a little less believable that religion was behind this. Any port in a storm and all that.