We are an alliance of parents, professionals, organizations, and individuals desiring to create a conscientious belief exemption for vaccinations in the state of Maryland. Although our individual positions regarding vaccination may differ, we come together for the common cause of the right to choose and refuse what form of medical intervention individuals and their children receive. This is a matter of informed consent, which is a crucial element of the foundation upon which ethical medical practice rests. This is a basic tenet of health freedom.
Currently, there are 20 states that offer their citizens a conscientious belief/philosophic type exemption. We pride ourselves here in MD on our many liberties, however, affording our citizens with the right to choose what is injected into the bodies of our loved ones is not one of those liberties. Creating a conscientious belief exemption will give our citizens the right to choose whether or not to receive mandated vaccinations. Compulsory vaccination laws that do not provide for these types of exemptions are, in essence, mandating the government’s ‘right’ to ‘own’ an individual’s body.
Presently, Maryland has both a medical and religious exemption to compulsory vaccinations. The following are the definitions recognized by our state, and the requirements to obtain such exemptions:
To receive an exemption of immunization for medical reasons, the parent or legal guardian of the child must acquire written documentation from a licensed physician or authorized health care provider that certifies that immunization against a particular disease may be detrimental to the child’s health. The exemption shall exist only for the length of time, in the opinion of the physician; such immunization would be detrimental to the child. An exemption from immunization for one disease shall not affect other required immunizations.
Religious exemptions can be granted when a parent or legal guardian objects to immunization because of religious beliefs. The parent or legal guardian shall sign a notarized form stating that the child has not been immunized because of religious beliefs.
Nowhere in either of the above exemptions is parental choice or informed consent mentioned. A conscientious belief exemption by definition would allow parents to be released from the requirement of compulsory vaccination based on their personal beliefs, concepts, attitudes, logic, ethics, metaphysics and epistemology. A legislated conscientious belief exemption provides a rightful means for an individual to decline and abstain from medical mandates. It is a guarantee that no government sanctioned paradigm or system of beliefs will retain absolute authority over an individual’s freedom of choice.
Up until recently, the use of the religious exemption has not been questioned. However, the institution of organized medicine has started the wheels in motion to limit our right to obtain legal exemptions to vaccinations for non-medical reasons. This comes under the guise of public health and stems from the mindset that it is the right of the state to require compulsory vaccination. Recently, parents in New York have been questioned by school officials regarding their religious beliefs as New York does not have a legislated philosophical exemption. Litigation primarily involves the school arguing that parents hold ‘personal philosophies’ rather than legitimate beliefs. Video of one families’ ordeal can be seen here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0IwwB2ECmxU&feature=related ). As a response to this, New York has recently introduced bill A04886 to enact a philosophical exemption for their state.
The time has come for the citizens of Maryland to come together and solidify our right to make our own decisions regarding the health and welfare of our bodies and those of our children. If you are interested in helping to support and/or promote a legislated conscientious belief exemption for the state of Maryland, we welcome all levels of participation. This includes individuals that have only 5 minutes to send an e-mail or to make a phone call to their legislator or those able to invest hours to this cause. Your support in this effort is crucial.
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