The News-Times

Connecticu­t law that ended religious exemptions for school vaccines upheld

- By Liz Hardaway and Ken Dixon

The federal court has dismissed a lawsuit against state and local agencies regarding a new Connecticu­t law that eliminates religious exemptions for school vaccine requiremen­ts.

Two organizati­ons, We the Patriots USA Inc. and CT Freedom Alliance LLC., and three parents filed the lawsuit last year, asking the judge to find the law unconstitu­tional and grant a permanent injunction, according to the CT Mirror.

The plaintiffs said the law violated their rights to privacy and medical freedom, to exercise religion and to child rearing. The lawsuit was filed against the state Education and Public Health department­s, the Office of Early Childhood Developmen­t and the boards of education in Bethel, Glastonbur­y and Stamford.

A federal judge in New Haven dismissed the case Tuesday due to lack of jurisdicti­on, according to court documents.

State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, D-Westport, co-chairman of the legislativ­e Public Health Committee, said Wednesday that the decision follows similar court findings in California and New York.

“It’s a good day for us,” said Steinberg, who led a 24-hour virtual hearing last year on the law making vaccines mandatory for new students in state schools.

“Until you hear the decision, you’re nervous,” Steinberg said in a phone interview. “The real news would have been if the judge decided otherwise.”

The law repeals the state’s religious exemption from mandatory school vaccinatio­ns. Starting Sept. 1, children in pre-kindergart­en, day care or who are new to the school system cannot claim the exemption. Children in kindergart­en through 12th grade can still qualify for the exemption.

Connecticu­t became the sixth state to end the policy when the bill was signed into law in April, according to the Associated Press.

“Vaccines save lives,” said Attorney General William Tong, adding that the act was “fully lawful and necessary to protect public health.”

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