Good News on Religious Exemptions, SAPHE 2.0, and Moms Arrested Protesting Wu


by Beth Guidry Hoffman
Boston Broadside
Contributing Writer

After moving favorably out of the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Public Health in May, Representative Andy Vargas’ (D-Haverhill) bill to remove religious exemptions for vaccines for public school was sent to the Committee on Health Care Financing for review. Good news is Bill H.4813 was not voted favorably and instead sent for further study, essentially killing the bill. Opposition calls, emails, petitions and rallies sent a clear message to legislators which ended in a victory for medical freedom.

Bad news, however, came with another dangerous bill, H.4328, for the Department of Public Health’s “State Action for Public Health Excellence (SAPHE) Program.” Updated to Bill H.5104, “An Act relative to accelerating improvements to the local and regional public health system to address disparities in the delivery of public health services,” also known as SAPHE 2.0, it passed in both the House and Senate without much public awareness in late July.

Under the guise of addressing disparities in the delivery of public health services across the state, SAPHE 2.0 is legislation mandating that “foundational public health services be provided to the residents of Massachusetts… left to the discretion of the Department of Public Health.” It has the potential “to disempower local and regional boards of health to manage their own local situations.” SAPHE 2.0 also opens up the “possibility of increased surveillance and tracking of individuals”… likely resulting in “further erosion of our medical and personal privacy in the name of dealing with public health emergencies.” (Excerpts from a letter of opposition to the bill.)

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Moving from the legislative chamber to dissent on the streets of Boston, where four moms were arrested in June for violating Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s recent ordinance limiting the hours one can protest. The narrowly written ordinance ̶ passed by the City Council in March ̶ restricts times protesters can gather in residential neighborhoods ̶ limited to 9 am – 9 pm, which is after Wu leaves for City Hall. (Although 7 am is the time allowed for construction noise to begin in Boston).

Some protesters have continued to gather prior to 9 am, citing their First Amendment rights. The ordinance is to be enforced by fines. However, in addition to being fined, the four women ̶ challenging Wu’s ordinance limiting their free speech as unconstitutional ̶ were arrested and criminally charged with disturbing the peace, June 29.

This clearly is a breakdown of the rule of law. “The Boston attorney representing all four defendants called it an occurrence of “selective prosecution” of free speech laws in Boston under the Wu administration.” Attorney Ilya Feoktistov said, “the ordinance simply states that it will be civilly handled, but the commonwealth charged it criminally. It’s like being charged criminally for littering … or a parking ticket.” (Boston Herald, June 29, “Protesters Arrested for Protesting in Banned Hours Outside Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s House”).

One Reply to “Good News on Religious Exemptions, SAPHE 2.0, and Moms Arrested Protesting Wu

  1. It is in today’s Boston Herald as to how a West Roxbury District Court judge ruled that the woman arrested for picketing Wu was wrongfully arrested. According to the Herald article the woman had the charges dropped. Wu and city council presiden Flynn’s attempt ro abridge free speech failed.

    The Globe and other news sources call Wu’s election a mandate. This despite the fact that over 70% of Boston’s registered voters didn’t even vote in the mayoral election. Its also in an editorial in today’s Herald as to how Wu is creating many non-essential high paying jobs at city hall with outlandish titles. Wu, Warren, Shannon-Liss Riordan are the leftist carpetbaggers who took power because working class voters lack the will to vote.
    Wu was on tv stating as to how barriers have been broken down by her election. Her mentor, Warren also frequently states that. Edith Norse Rogers was a congresswoman for decades. Margaret Heckler and Louise Day Hicks also. Edward Brooke was a U.S. Senator from Mass in the mid 60’s to late 70’s. He was also Massachusetts Attorney General. That was in an era when voter turnout was sometimes over 80%. I guess someone from the outer suburbs of Chicago or Tulsa, OK wouldn’t know our state’s history.

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