The state of Maine, which reportedly has one of the highest vaccine exemption rates in the country, has officially eliminated all religious and philosophical exemptions for vaccines.
Maine Governor Janet Mills, a Democrat, signed the bill into law on Friday in response to the rising number of vaccination opt-outs in the state. Non-medical exemptions for public and private universities will be obsolete in Maine by 2021, according to ABC 13.
“As we hear more reports of measles and other preventable diseases in Maine and across the country, it has become clear that we must act to ensure the health of our communities,” said Democratic Rep. Ryan Tipping of Orono, the bill’s sponsor.
Maine will end non-medical vaccine opt-outs by 2021 for students at public and private schools and universities, including nursery school.
Health care facility employees are also subject to the law.
Supporters say unvaccinated children put others at risk, especially those who cannot receive inoculations for medical reasons.
But opponents of the legislation say it infringes on parental rights and stigmatizes unvaccinated children.
Interestingly, ABC reports that Maine recently had its first case of measles since 2017. There’s also currently an outbreak of whooping cough, for which there is a vaccine.
Maine is following in the steps of other states who have enacted similar exemption laws.
Maine joins California, Mississippi and West Virginia to become the fourth state without religious exemptions for vaccine requirements.
Opponents warn that a legal fight is brewing over whether the Maine law goes too far in infringing on religious liberty.
The Maine Constitution says “no person shall be hurt, molested or retrained” for following God according to his or her “own conscience.”
It’s relevant to note that some experts have pointed out that no major religious group opposes vaccinating against infectious diseases, and questioned whether this is really a “religious freedom” issue as it is so often treated.
Well, what do you think?