Mr. Bob Katzen, Publisher of the Beacon Hill Roll Call, requested a comment from the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts on House Bill No. 2411—An Act relative to vaccines and preventing future disease outbreaks—which is sponsored by Representative Andres X. Vargas (D-Haverhill).
This proposed legislation would eliminate the provision for religious exemptions contained in the statute—Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 76, Section 15—which mandates vaccinations as a condition of school attendance in the Commonwealth.
Catholic Action League Executive Director C. J. Doyle issued the following statement: “This measure would usurp the right of parents to control the health care of their own children, and empower the state to intrude into the exclusive concerns of the family.”
“It would also coerce the consciences and violate the religious freedom rights of orthodox Catholics, and other pro-life citizens, who find the use of fetal tissue or fetal cell lines from aborted children, found in the production or testing of numerous vaccines, to be morally reprenensible.”
“The jurisprudence of both the United States and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have long understood that the free exercise of religion guarantees not just the freedom to worship, but the right to act in accordance with a religiously formed conscience. This principle was upheld by the Supreme Judicial Court as recently as 1995 in the Desilets case, in which Justice Herbert Wilkins, writing for the majority, stated: ‘Conduct motivated by sincerely held religious convictions will be recognized as the exercise of religion.'”
“In any conflict between a constitutional right and a compelling state interest, the American legal tradition has always held that the government ought to provide a reasonable accommodation for the sincerely held religious beliefs of citizens. Representative Vargas’ bill repudiates that tradition and prevents that accommodation.”
“Finally, it may also be construed as selectively targeted viewpoint discrimination—which is punitive and unlawful—against citizens who support the right to life of the unborn, by legislators who do not.”