Oregon House Passes Bill Requiring Anti-Vaccination Parents to Get Educated About Vaccines First

Oregon law currently states that parents can refuse to have their children vaccinated for religious reasons (“Jesus hated vaccines!”) or medical reasons (“Dr. Jenny McCarthy said I shouldn’t get them!”).

Senate Democrats in the state can’t force everyone to get vaccinated against their will, so they’re at least trying to make it more difficult for parents to opt out of vaccinating their kids:

Senate Bill 132 would require all parents to receive information about vaccines either from a doctor or an online video before they can opt out.

After a lengthy floor debate, the bill passed on a 16-13 vote, with one Senate Republican excused.

It now heads to the House.

Senate Bill 132 (PDF) would go into effect on January 1, 2014 if passed.

There’s no evidence that making parents watch a video or talk to qualified doctors about vaccinations will change their minds, but getting scientific information on how vaccines work and why they’re not harmful for children can’t hurt. At least it’s better than a pastor getting the last word.

Opponents are crying foul, saying this is somehow targeting religious groups… but it’s not. It’s targeting misinformed, irresponsible parents who know little about how science works to the detriment of everyone in society.

What’s really amazing is how Republicans are the ones complaining about this — all of them who were present voted against the bill — when the same party is known for passing bills in other states requiring women to view their ultrasounds or listen to the fetus’ heartbeat before allowing them to have abortions. They love making you take an extra step in the hope that you’ll change your mind when it comes to abortion but flip out when it comes to vaccinations.

“Not only are we stomping on First Amendment rights, the freedom of religion, we are actually stomping on a right of a person to dictate their own health care,” said Sen. Fred Girod, R-Stayton, a dentist.

For some reason, I just can’t take Republicans seriously when they say they want people to control their own health care decisions…

The Oregon House has a Democrat majority and the governor is Democrat, too, so it looks like this bill should become law without a problem. The law would be stronger if parents couldn’t enroll their children in public schools without vaccinations, but getting them to think twice before doing something as foolish as exposing their kids (and others) to preventable diseases is a step in the right direction.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.