School Vaccine Religious Exemption Lawsuits...
Other Health Rights Lawsuits...
What is AVFCA's involvement?
The airwaves have been abuzz with talk of winning (and losing lawsuits), as well as new lawsuits being filed in California, and other states, to allow a Religious Exemptions for school vaccination requirements. While A Voice for Choice Advocacy shares in this excitement and also has a lawsuit forthcoming on this issue, our organization wants to share some background, as there seems to be quite a bit of confusion and lots of questions!
An Abridged History of School Vaccine Requirements and Recent Lawsuits/Ballot measures:
- 1950s and 60s: Individual states put laws in place to require schools to require vaccination for enrollment. All but two states (Mississippi and West Virginia) allow religious and/or personal belief exemptions.
- 2015: With the passing of SB 277, California removes the personal belief exemption to school required vaccines. To note: California never had a specific religious exemption; all religious objections to receiving vaccines could be claimed under the personal beliefs exemption.
- 2016-2021: Maine, New York and Connecticut follow suit, removing their personal belief and/or religious belief exemptions to school required vaccines.
- 2016: Four lawsuits are filed in California to return the personal belief exemption to school required vaccines, including A Voice for Choice Advocacy's Love vs. California lawsuit. All are dismissed.
- 2019: Lawsuits are filed in New York to return the religious belief exemption and expand the medical exemption to school required vaccines. The lawsuits are dismissed in the lower courts.
- 2020: Maine puts an initiative on the ballot to reinstate the personal and religious belief exemptions to school required vaccines. The measure fails 73% to 27%.
- 2021: A lawsuit is filed in Connecticut to return the religious belief exemption to school required vaccines. The lawsuit is dismissed in the lower courts.
- 2022: A lawsuit is filed in Mississippi to require a religious belief exemption to school required vaccines.
The dismissal of the New York lawsuit is upheld in the Appeals and NY supreme courts.
- 2023: The Mississippi case wins, with the judge requiring a religious belief exemption be allowed for school required vaccines. The dismissal of the Connecticut lawsuit is upheld in the appeals court and the removal of the religious belief exemption remains in place.
While A Voice for Choice Advocacy is thankful to ICAN for bringing forward the Mississippi case and excited about the win, this condensed summary hopefully makes it clear that the likelihood of a lawsuit succeeding to require a state to have a non medical vaccine exemption is low.
New Lawsuits in CA?
To clarify NO new lawsuits have been filed in California (yet) related to religious belief exemptions to required school vaccines. However, if you have been following A Voice for Choice Advocacy, you will know we have been looking for plaintiffs to join our lawsuit. AVFCA has been in touch with two other groups, ICAN and Advocates for Faith and Freedom, who shared this week that they will likely be bringing lawsuits on this issue in CA in the next few months. AVFCA's perspective is the more high quality lawsuits, the better! To reiterate from previous emails, please reply to this email i f you would be interested in being a plaintiff in AVFCA's lawsuit, and meet the following criteria:
- Plan to live in California for the next 2-3 years
- Have a child that is unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated and you do not plan to vaccinate them further
- Wish your child to attend in person public or private school (K-10 th grade)
- Have sincere religious beliefs which can be validated by one of the parents having a religious exemption accepted for work or a some other experience such as being a religious leader
- Both parents are in agreement with not further vaccinating
Note: Any lawsuit is brought forward is likely to take 1-4 years to come to resolution.
A Voice for Choice Advocacy is currently paying for and supporting two other lawsuits in California, one of which was filed a few weeks ago and the other will be filed next week. If they win, both of these lawsuits will have a significant impact on the vaccine issues in CA. However, in the best interests of the cases and the plaintiffs, AVFCA is not sharing specific information on these lawsuits or publicizing them.
AVFCA does a lot of work behind the scenes, from these lawsuits to lobbying to education and much more. AVFCA has a small, extremely dedicated, hard-working team, that makes change happen without fanfare and publicity! While we probably should do more, AVFCA has limited resources and so relies on you to share our work and accomplishments. While our amazing team of lawyers subsidize their rates for AVFCA, lawsuits are extremely expensive (hundreds of thousands of dollars). While we have a paid team, AVFCA does not have any large scale donors and looks to your smaller donations to keep our organization doing the work we do!
Over the last 8 years A Voice for Choice Advocacy, and our sister organization, A Voice for Choice, have been sustained only by grassroots donations, as well as my own significant donations. We are so thankful to everyone who has generously donated. However, AVFCA always needs your help to make our efforts sustainable. If you appreciate the work we do, AVFCA asks you to donate as generously as you can - no amount is too little or too great! If you are not already, please consider becoming a monthly donor: www.avoiceforchoiceadvocacy.org/donate [[link removed]]
For those not wanting to give through PayPal (we are looking to use another vendor in the near future), you can send a check, use Venmo or use Zelle:
Send Check to: A Voice for Choice Advocacy, 530 Showers Drive #7404, Mountain View CA 94040
Send Venmo to: @avoiceforchoice (Note: you have to search under "Business" to find us)
Send Zelle to: [email protected]
For other ways to donate and support A Voice for Choice, please go to our website: [link removed] [[link removed]] Thank you in advance for your generosity.
Together we can make change happen!
A Voice for Choice Advocacy, Inc. [email protected] [[email protected]]
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A Voice for Choice Advocacy
530 Showers Drive, #7404
Mountain View, CA 94040