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a contrario sensu (on the other hand)

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Immunization exemption declared unconstitutional

On July 25, 2002, a federal court in Arkansas ruled that the religious exemption in the state's immunization statute was unconstitutional. The court found that the statute was unconstitutional in requiring a person claiming a religious exemption to be an adherent or member of a recognized church or religious denomination whose religious tenants and practices conflicted with the immunization requirement. As written, the law violated the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Constitutional principles of religious freedom require that an exemption from the immunization statute be based upon a person's individual religious beliefs, not those of a church or denomination. The court's ruling only applied to the religious exemption language of the statute, leaving the immunization requirements intact.

Unfortunately, Arkansas has now become one of only three states in the nation that recognize no religious exemption for immunizations. While the current law does not require immunizations for homeschool students in Arkansas, graduates of homeschools are affected when they seek admission to an in-state college and want to claim the religious exemption. The recent court decision makes this impossible for both Arkansas residents and out-of-state applicants.

Home School Legal Defense Association supports legislation that would create a lawful religious exemption for immunizations. In this regard, we will work with state homeschool leaders and legislators during the 2003 legislative session to enact an exemption to accommodate parents opposed to immunizations because of their sincerely held religious beliefs.

For more information about health risks associated with vaccinations, visit the National Vaccine Information Center's website at and read HSLDA Attorney Christopher Klicka's article at

Dewitt T. Black