The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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April 16, 2012

Parents group keeps fighting law on school

CHARLESTON — Media attention was scant, and legislative regard proved even smaller, but a grassroots movement to change West Virginia law so that vaccination of school-age children no longer is mandatory isn’t going away.

In fact, We the Parents says it is keeping alive its struggle to allow West Virginians to refuse immunizations on religious or philosophical grounds.

Authored by Sens. Donna Boley, R-Pleasants, and David Nohe, R-Wood, SB50 would have allowed parents to reject vaccinations for nonmedical reasons.

As existing law stands, any parent failing to let a child be immunized against diphtheria, polio, rubeola, rubella, tetanus and whooping cough can be fined $10 to $50 for each separate offense.

We the Parents objects to compulsory vaccinations on a number of grounds, says its director, Lori Lee, a Jackson County mother of two nonvaccinated children.

Lee points out that West Virginia is one of only two states that disallow the option of vaccinations when it comes to religious or philosophical reasons. The other state with a built-in disallowance is no surprise — Mississippi.

“Many parents object to some or all immunizations based on religious or personal beliefs,” she said.

For instance, Lee said, 14 of the required immunizations employ human cells derived from aborted fetal tissue.

“Many believe that man is made in God’s image and the injection of toxic chemicals and foreign proteins into the bloodstream is a violation of God’s directive to keep the body/temple holy and free from impurities,” she said.

For others, there is the doctrine that holds it unethical to mix the blood of man with that of animals. Lee says many are produced in animal tissues, listing calf serum protein or fetal bovine serum, as among the ingredients.

Opposition to compulsory immunization transcends the religious community and it isn’t confined to one particular church or denomination.

In fact, says Lee, “The group is so large that our members are not part of one denomination. I know that Catholic, Baptist, Nazarene and Jewish faiths are represented, but I am sure there are more.”

The fight against the existing law is an old one, going back several years, and Lee says it is far from over.

“In nearly a decade, we have never had any problems finding someone to sponsor our bill,” she said.

Above all, We the Parents sees the state law as a violation of the Constitution, the Patient Bill of Rights, and the Nuremburg Code. The organization is made up of some 150 families, and all 55 counties are represented.

Another objection, voiced by some, is what Lee terms “the high rate of vaccine reactions and lack of risk to hepatitis B to infants and children.”

Lee says a number of parents have removed their children from public schools in favor of home schooling or, in her case, drive their children into bordering states.

“Christians are told they must choose between their faith and private/public schooling,” Lee said.

“Veterans who fought for freedom and returned to our state to raise families are told their constitutional rights are repressed. And parents are told they do not have the latitude to make informed health care decisions with their pediatrician regarding their own children, which will not violate their personal beliefs and family values. Does this sound like a place you’d like to establish your business or raise a family? This is West Virginia.”

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