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Date:
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7/9/2003 5:57:23 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Texas--Calls Needed to Preserve Immunization Exemption

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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July 9, 2003

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends,

The Texas Legislature is currently in special session and considering
House Bill 89, introduced July 7, 2003. H.B. 89 threatens to remove
the newly won freedom recently guaranteed to parents who chose not to
have their children immunized.

The House Public Health Committee will hold a public hearing July 10
to consider this legislation. We need your calls to kill House Bill
89!

REQUESTED ACTION

Call the members of the House Public Health Committee and give them
the following message in your own words:

"Please vote against H.B. 89 which would take away parents rights to
make preventive medical decisions for their children. Support
parental choice."

When you call, you do not need to identify yourself as a
homeschooler, but simply as a concerned parent.

To get the name and phone number of your state representative, use
HSLDA's Legislative Toolbox at: http://www.hslda.org/toolbox. If you
do not have Internet access, call your county clerk's office and ask
for your state representative's name.

House Public Health Committee:

Chair: Rep. Jaime Capelo, (512) 463-0462
Vice-Chair: Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, (512) 463-0186
Rep. Vicki Truitt, (512) 463-0690
Rep. Garnet Coleman, (512) 463-0524
Rep. Glenda Dawson, (512) 463-0707
Rep. Jim McReynolds, (512) 463-0490
Rep. Elliott Naishtat, (512) 463-0668
Rep. Larry Taylor, (512) 463-0729
Rep. Bill Zedler, (512) 463-0374

BACKGROUND

Two years ago, Home School Legal Defense Association worked with
several Texas organizations to change the Texas law to exempt parents
who are conscientiously or religiously opposed to giving their
children immunizations. The bill almost passed but was defeated.

In this last Texas legislative session, similar legislation (House
Bill 2292) quietly passed the Legislature and was signed by the
governor. H.B. 2292 specifically stated that immunization is not
required if a parent or guardian "declines immunization for reasons
of conscience, including religious belief." This language changed
the previously restrictive law that required that an objecting family
be a member of a recognized church or religious denomination whose
tenants and practices are opposed to immunization. Many families are
opposed to immunization without being members of such a church, so
House Bill 2292 was a great victory for parental rights.

Now, in special session, Representative Capelo is introducing H.B.
89, which would return Texas law to its previous restrictive status.
H.B. 89 would again require ALL students to be immunized. Texas
children would be subject to as many as 39 doses of 12 different
vaccines by the time they enter school.

A child would only be exempted based on a medical exception from a
doctor or if the immunization conflicts with "the tenets of an
organized religion." Most parents' objections to vaccinations do not
fit under these exceptions.

The bill will also extend the restrictive requirements to college-age
students.

REASONS TO OPPOSE H.B. 89

1) Parents should be allowed to make decisions concerning their
children's preventive health care. There is tremendous controversy
over the impact of immunizations. While there is evidence
immunizations have prevented outbreaks of harmful or fatal diseases,
there is also evidence that vaccines have significant negative short-
and long-term side effects.

2) Parents have the fundamental right to direct the provision of
health care to their children. The state should not override the
decisions of parents, especially in the area of preventive care,
where many different approaches must be respected.

3) Some parents are convinced, based on research they have done, that
it would be better for their children not to be immunized. Whether or
not we agree with their conclusion, their right to make this decision
should be protected.

4) The religious exemption proposed by H.B. 89 is unconstitutional
since it is limited to only certain religions. Similar laws have been
struck down in New York and Massachusetts. A legal opinion drafted by
the Office of General Counsel at the Texas Department of Health dated
June 2, 1995 noted constitutional problems:

"Any effort to disallow an affidavit from a person whose religious
beliefs do not come from a 'recognized' religion is likely to be
challenged on constitutional grounds... school districts should be
aware that the religious exemption statute is vulnerable to a
challenge from an applicant whose sincere religious beliefs do not
derive from the teachings of a 'recognized' or 'organized' religion."

For more information on this issue, visit HSLDA's webpage at:
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?ID=948

Thank you for standing with us for family and freedom!

Sincerely,

Christopher Klicka
HSLDA Senior Counsel

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