Actress Jessica Biel went to Sacramento to lobby against a bill that would prevent parents from purchasing vaccine exemptions from doctors. Under California law, doctors can provide medical exemptions for children based upon their assessment of the child. The bill hopes to stop doctors from selling medical exemptions to anti-vaccine parents. Biel insists she is not an anti-vaxxer, but her appearance with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. has many people not believing her. Biel and husband Justin Timberlake were applauded online by anti-vaxxers and welcomed to their club.
Yesterday Robert F. Kennedy, Jr shared a photo on Instagram with Jessica Biel. Kennedy is a vocal critic of vaccines, and he’s authored several books against vaccinations. He and Biel were at the Capital in California to lobby against a new bill that could tighten the guidelines for doctors providing vaccine medical exemptions.
Senator Dr. Richard Pan introduced the bill earlier this spring to stop doctors from selling medical exemptions to patients. Under current California law, doctors can decide if a child should be medically exempt from vaccines. Doctors are not required to seek approval from the state for the exemption. As a result, many doctors started selling exemptions to parents who wished not to vaccinate their children.
Under the proposed bill, doctors would submit the medical exemption to the state for reviewal. The Los Angeles Times wrote about the bill in May:
“Under the bill, the state Department of Public Health would decide whether the underlying condition cited by a doctor in a medical exemption meets guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Medical exemptions that have already been approved would have to be submitted to the state for inclusion in a nonpublic database by the end of 2020.
State health officials estimate that more than 40% of the 11,500 medical exemptionsexpected to be requested each year would be denied under the bill.”
Due to the current law, the vaccination rate in the state of California has dropped over the past several years. Anti-vax parents that are willing to pay pediatricians can purchase medical exemptions because there is no governmental oversight.
In May, the bill passed the Senate by a vote of 24-10. After the bill passed the Senate, Dr. Richard Pan said,
Senate Bill 276 targets “unscrupulous physicians” who the proposal’s author, state Sen. Richard Pan, said are administering “fake” medical exemptions for children who should be vaccinated.
“SB 276 assures students who truly need medical exemptions will receive them and that the schools they attend maintain community immunity to keep them safe,” Pan, D-Sacramento, said in a written statement. “Through passage of SB 276, we are taking a preventive approach to keep schools safe for all students by applying a model successfully used in West Virginia, which has not experienced measles in a decade.”
Now the bill is with the California Assembly and waiting for a vote. If passed by the Assembly, the bill would go to the Governor to be signed into law. In an attempt to influence Assembly members, RFK Jr and Biel met with lawmakers to share their reservations about the bill.
Jessica Biel has never made a formal statement about her feelings about vaccines. For years rumors have swirled that she and husband Justin Timberlake did not vaccinate their son. However, neither Biel nor Timberlake have formerly denounced vaccines.
After Kennedy uploaded the photo with Biel, media outlets immediately branded the actress an anti-vaxxer. An article in Jezebel said an employee at the Capital told them anonymously that Jessica Biel openly spoke about her mistrust about vaccines. Additionally, they noted that Biel shared that she shopped for doctors to receive a medical exemption for her son.Given that she was hobnobbing with Kennedy, there is a strong chance that Biel is an anti-vaxxer. However, Biel uploaded a photo on Instagram and denied she was against vaccines. Biel wrote,
“This week I went to Sacramento to talk to legislators in California about a proposed bill. I am not against vaccinations — I support children getting vaccinations and I also support families having the right to make educated medical decisions for their children alongside their physicians. My concern with #SB276 is solely regarding medical exemptions.
My dearest friends have a child with a medical condition that warrants an exemption from vaccinations, and should this bill pass, it would greatly affect their family’s ability to care for their child in this state. That’s why I spoke to legislators and argued against this bill. Not because I don’t believe in vaccinations, but because I believe in giving doctors and the families they treat the ability to decide what’s best for their patients and the ability to provide that treatment.
I encourage everyone to read more on this issue and to learn about the intricacies of #SB276. Thank you to everyone who met with me this week to engage in this important discussion!”
Despite her claims that she is not an anti-vaxxer, Biel’s explanation does not add up. Under the bill, children with approved medical conditions could still receive exemptions from vaccines. The law hopes to stop doctors from giving exemptions for children with asthma, diabetes, and other conditions that are still compatible with vaccinations. The only reason her “friend” couldn’t receive a waiver is if they are lying about their child’s health.
Additionally, the bill hopes to stop the doctor shopping that Biel admitted to doing for her son, according to Jezebel. Also, her remarks seem insincere and a way to distance herself from the anti-vaccine movement. However, anti-vaxxers praised her all over Instagram. She is becoming a new hero for their agenda to spread preventable diseases through our communities.
Others criticized Biel for joining ranks with a staunch anti-vax conspiracy pusher like Kennedy.
Without a Crystal Ball has to agree with the above Instagram comment. Aligning oneself with RFK Jr certainly cements Biel’s place as an anti-vaxxer.
*Katie Joy is a columnist and hosts Without A Crystal Ball on Patheos Non-Religious Channel. She writes articles on parenting, disability advocacy, debunking pseudoscience, atheism, and crimes against women and children.
She co-hosts the YouTube show, “The Smoking Nun,” with Kyle Curtis on The Non-Sequitur Channel. The show airs weekly and tackles pseudoscience, current events, and crime stories.
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