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  • 48 states in the U.S. allow an exemption to vaccination for religious beliefs, which provides a legal option that parents with sincerely held religious and spiritual beliefs about vaccine use can file for their children to attend school
  • In order to file and receive a religious exemption to vaccination, you do not have to be a member of a specific church that opposes vaccination and your belief in an organized religion (Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Islam, etc.) should not preclude you from exercising religious belief exemption to vaccination; however you must be prepared to explain and defend your religious beliefs regarding vaccination when questioned by state officials
  • You can claim a religious exemption to vaccination if you hold a sincere belief that use of one or more vaccines violates your spiritual beliefs or ability to obey your conscience after seeking guidance through prayer or study of scripture
  • The first amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects your right to worship freely; if a school district or state violates this right, including your right to exercise religious exemption to vaccination, you can elect to take legal action
 

Vaccination: Using the First Amendment to Opt Out of This Potentially Damaging Procedure

December 27, 2011 | 196,021 views
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By Dr. Mercola

In 1905, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the legal authority of state governments to pass laws requiring citizens residing in the state to use smallpox vaccine (or other vaccines) if the state considers mass use of the vaccine necessary to protect the "public health".

As of 2011, all 50 states have enacted vaccine laws that require proof children have received certain vaccines in order to attend daycare, middle school, high school and college.

However, in most states citizens currently have the legal right to opt out of using vaccines.

All 50 states allow a medical exemption to vaccination (medical exemptions must be approved by an M.D. or D.O.); 48 states allow a religious exemption to vaccination; and 18 states allow a personal, philosophical or conscientious belief exemption to vaccination.

However, also be aware that vaccine exemptions are currently under attack in every state because the wealthy and powerful Pharma/Medical Industry lobby is trying to take them away, especially the religious and philosophical or conscientious belief exemptions.

All Americans need to know options for legally opting-out of vaccinations, but also need to know why it's so important to protect this legal option, whether or not you choose to use every government recommended vaccine for yourself and your children.

Interested in Using the Religious Exemption to Vaccination?

The religious exemption to vaccination is one way you can protect your religious freedom and human right to exercise voluntary, informed consent to medical risk-taking. The right to life and liberty is what the United States was founded on, after all, and the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution was put in place to protect your right to worship freely.

All but two states (West Virginia and Mississippi) allow religious exemption to vaccination. The legal language defining religious exemptions are worded differently in different state laws and there are different kinds of written documentation that must be submitted to state governments when filing this vaccine exemption.

Many mistakenly believe that in order to claim a religious exemption to vaccination, you must belong to an organized religion or be a member of a church that "officially" opposes vaccination. -- but this is not the case! If you belong to a church or an organized religion (Christian, Jewish, Muslim, etc) that does not take an official  position opposing vaccination, this does not prevent you from following your spiritual beliefs and filing a religious exemption to vaccination.

In America, there is a constitutional right to worship freely and follow individual spiritual beliefs and conscience.

In fact, many organized religions, such as Catholicism, do emphasize the "duty to obey the certain judgement of conscience" and act in ways that do not violate conscience.  However, U.S. law prohibits discrimination against citizens based on religious belief and so you can also hold personal spiritual beliefs about vaccination that allow you to claim a religious exemption.

As long as your beliefs about vaccination are religious/spiritual in nature; are sincerely and truly held; and you are able to define and attest to your beliefs in a state court, if necessary, you should be able to file and receive a religious exemption to vaccination for yourself or your child. Remember that the religious and concientious belief exemptions to vaccination are being threatened in many  states so you need to be prepared to defend your spiritual beliefs about vaccination to school, health or other state officials. In some cases this may even progress further to include your being questioned by state attorneys.

However, if your religious beliefs about vaccination are deeply and sincerely held, do not let this sway you from standing up for your right to worship freely and exercise religious belief exemption to vaccination. 

As James Filenbaum, attorney at law, explains:

"A parent's religious "beliefs" are sufficient to qualify for the religious exemption. The "belief" is defined as a faith that occupies a place in their lives parallel to that held by the orthodox belief in God or any sincere religious beliefs which are based upon a power or being to which all else is subordinate and on which all else is ultimately dependent

They qualify if they believe that not giving the vaccines is what they must do to follow God's will for them in fulfilling their role as responsible parents. Their child's immune system is a creation of God and that God has given their child and that to vaccinate would violate their faith in what God created.

The parents do NOT have to be part of a recognized religious organization. You don't have to join any church, you can be any religion at all. But if they are a part of an established religion (Catholic, Protestant, Islam, etc.) they can still have their own perceptions of what it means to follow God's will which may be counter to what that organization states.

The case is established with legal precedent at the US Supreme Court level. (United States Supreme Court in Sharon Levy vs. Northcourt cases)

The important rule here is that if a school district denies religious exemption they are violating your federally protected civil rights under the first amendment by what is called state action and under federal law you are entitled to money damages."

Unfortunately, the religious exemption is being targeted for elimination by lobbyists working for pharmaceutical corporations and medical trade associations funded by Pharma. In some states, like New York, parents are being grilled about the sincerity of their religious beliefs by state officials and denied religious exemptions to vaccination for the purpose of barring their partially vaccinated or unvaccinated chidlren from attending public schools.

Your Spiritual Advisor Can Support Your Religious Exemption

Some states require a notarized affidavit or letter from a spiritual advisor attesting to the sincerity of a person's religious beliefs about vaccination.

Even if your state does not require a notarized affadavit from a spiritual advisor in order to file a religious exemption to vaccination, you may want to obtain added support by sitting down and talking with your minister, pastor, priest, rabbi or another trusted spiritual counselor.  Explain to him or her why you have deeply held spiritual and conscientioiusly held beliefs  on the matter of vaccination and ask for a letter that attests to the sincerity of your beliefs. If you are ever questioned,you will have a letter from your spiritual advisor to provide to whomever is questioning you.

Two Other Types of Vaccine Exemptions: Medical and Conscientious Belief

All 50 states allow a medical exemption to vaccination if you or your child has a verifiable medical reason to defer or avoid use of one or more vaccines.

Unfortunately, since 1986 the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have eliminated most officially recognized medical reasons for withholding vaccination (contraindications) so that almost no medical condition qualifies for a medical exemption to vaccination. In most states, a medical exemption to vaccination written by a medical doctor can be denied if the medical reason given does not strictly conform to CDC and AAP contraindication guidelines.

Medical exemptions to vaccination must be written by a medical doctor (M.D.) or doctor of osteopathy (D.O.) and are usually reviewed annually by school or state health officials.

Depending on where you live, you may have the option of using a philosophical or conscientious belief exemption. This exemption, like the religious exemption, is under attack by forced vaccination proponents who want to eliminate non-medical exemptions to vaccination in America. Eighteen states allow conscientious, personal or philosophical belief exemption to vaccination. These states come the closest to protecting a citizen's right to exercise voluntary, informed consent to vaccination in America.

They are:

Arizona California Colorado
Idaho Louisiana Maine
Michigan Minnesota New Mexico
North Dakota Ohio Oklahoma
Rhode Island Texas Utah
Vermont Washington Wisconsin

If you don't like the vaccine laws in your state and want to change them, the non-profit National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) has an online Advocacy Portal  (www.NVICAdvocacy.org) that you can join and work in your state to protect or expand vaccine exemptions. There is no time to waste so take action now. Together, we can educate the public and reform vaccine laws in America to protect the right for citizens to make informed, voluntary vaccination decisions.

If Forced Vaccination Becomes a Reality, You are no Longer Free

The issue of protecting your right to make an informed, voluntary vaccination choice for yourself or your child in the United States is about defending human rights. As Barbara Loe Fisher, president of the National Vaccine Information Center, states:

"While the State may have the legal authority to mandate use of vaccines, nobody has the moral authority to FORCE you to get vaccinated or vaccinate your child without your voluntary, informed consent."

This -- the right to choose what is injected into your body or your child's -- is a decision that is a matter of life and death for some individuals, as the current one-size-fits-all approach to vaccination does not take into account differences among children's genetic profiles or immune responses based on factors such as age, weight, personal and family medical history and overall health status.

Each and every vaccine carries an inherent risk of causing a reaction, injury or death that can be greater for some individuals than others -- and many do not know they are at increased risk until it is too late. This is why I often remind readers that, ultimately, it is your responsibility to exercise due diligence and do your own research to decide for yourself which vaccines you do or do not want your child to receive.

It's important that you do an independent analysis by getting information from many sources, including organizations dedicated to preventing vaccine injuries and deaths, rather than only getting information from entities that are defending or making billions of dollars from promoting one-size-fits all forced vaccination policies.

You see, Big Pharma does NOT want you to have vaccine freedom of choice!

Barbara Loe Fisher explains:

"The only barrier left to unlimited vaccine profit-making is the freedom for Americans to choose whether or not to use every new vaccine Pharma creates and wants mandated. Freedom of choice is something Big Pharma and the medical lobby does not want you to have.

They know that many educated consumers in America and around the world are dissatisfied with the old pharmaceutical-based health care paradigm … And we are questioning why we and our children should be required to get a long list of expensive vaccines that carry serious risks and sometimes don't work at all.

… So Pharma is funding medical organizations profiting from mass vaccination policies to press politicians into quickly passing laws that force Americans to buy and use dozens of doses of vaccines. The goal is to demand that everyone salute smartly and obey doctors' orders to get vaccinated or be barred from getting an education, health insurance, medical care or a job.  The goal is to, in effect, brand unvaccinated citizens as enemies of the state, so they can be fined or imprisoned.

Can this really be happening in America?  Yes, it can."

And for the record, there is no system of "checks and balances" when it comes to vaccine safety. Vaccines have not been adequately tested for safety before they are licensed using methodologically sound scientific studies, so their long-term health effects are unknown. Moreover, the effects of multiple vaccines given together have not been adequately tested. And pharmaceutical companies have financed nearly all vaccine research to date, which introduces enormous bias.

Not to mention, vaccine manufacturers are totally shielded from liability and accountability in civil court for vaccine injuries and deaths. In February 2011, unbelievably the U.S. Supreme Court gave the drug companies total immunity from lawsuits -- even if they could have made a vaccine less harmful!

Barbara Loe Fisher continues:

"So if your child is brain injured by a vaccine that you may not have wanted your child to get in the first place, all you can do is file a claim in the federal vaccine injury compensation program. Even though the program has awarded more than $2 billion dollars to vaccine victims, two out of three plaintiffs are turned away empty handed."

If You Need Support for Strengthening Your Convictions …

If you or your child have experienced a vaccine-related reaction, injury or death, you will likely need no help explaining exactly why you are seeking a religious exemption to vaccination. However, if you are solely making your decision based on an intellectual review of the research, you should not file a religioius exemption to vaccination unless you do, truly, have religious or spiritual convictions opposing the use of vaccines.

If you believe in a higher power and have strong convictions that compel you to follow the dictates of your deeply held spiritual and conscientious beliefs, you may want to consider asking yourself whether those beliefs are strong enough to file a religious exemption to vaccination. If that is the case, the Internet, using sites like YouTube, is an excellent way to become more informed about  individuals who have suffered injury or even died after vaccine reactions. They are poignant reminders of why, ultimately, we should all have the human right to follow our religious, spiritual or conscientious beliefs about medical risk-taking.

Likewise, if you or a family member has suffered a serious vaccine reaction, injury or death, please share your experience with others. If we don't share information and experiences with each other, everybody feels alone and afraid to speak up. Write a letter to the editor if you have a different perspective on a vaccine story that appears in your local newspaper. Make a call in to a radio talk show that is only presenting one side of the vaccine story.

You will need to have courage when you seek to exercise your religious exemption because you might be strongly criticized for daring to talk about the "other side" of the vaccine story. Well-intentioned but vaccine-safety-ignorant individuals mistakenly believe they are  "protecting" themselves and others by forcing you to or your children to get vaccinated . In most cases, they have never carefully examined the evidenceand are convinced vaccines are only beneficial and pose no danger to themselves or others.

Only by sharing our perspective and what we know to be true about vaccination will the public conversation about vaccination open up so people are not afraid to talk about it.

We cannot allow the drug companies and medical trade associations funded by drug companies to dominate the conversation about vaccination. The vaccine injured cannot be swept under the carpet and treated like nothing more than "statistically acceptable collateral damage" of national one-size-fits-all mass vaccination policies that put way too many people at risk for injury and death. We shouldn't be treating people like guinea pigs instead of human beings.

It is not easy to stand up for the right to make informed, voluntary choices about vaccination when public health officials, the pharmaceutical industry and many medical doctors are putting pressure on all Americans to use every government-recommended vaccine.

The fact that the numbers of doses of government recommended and mandated vaccines for children have tripled in the past quarter century, while the numbers of chronically ill and disabled children have also tripled, offers an opportunity to have a long overdue public conversation about the effects of vaccination on individual and public health.

Remember, freedom of thought and exercise of free speech is protected under the U.S. Constitution.

You have the right to talk privately and publicly about any concerns you have about vaccine necessity, safety and effectiveness, and to work with your elected officials to modify the vaccine laws in your state.

Together We Can Change this Assault on Your Health Freedom

The religious exemption to vaccination is necessary because the fundamental problem that has yet to be effectively addressed is vaccine mandates. Ultimately, our goal is to change the health paradigm so that everyone has the unobstructed right to make informed, voluntary choices about medical procedures and  pharmaceutical product use.

What You Can Do to Make a Difference

While it seems "old-fashioned," the only truly effective actions you can take to protect the right to informed consent to vaccination and expand vaccine exemptions, is to get personally involved with your state legislators and the leaders in your community.

THINK GLOBALLY, ACT LOCALLY.

Mass vaccination policies are made at the federal level but vaccine laws are made at the state level, and it is at the state level where your action to protect your vaccine choice rights can have the greatest impact.

Signing up for NVIC's free Advocacy Portal at www.NVICAdvocacy.org not only gives you access to practical, useful information to help you become an effective vaccine choice advocate in your own community, but when national vaccine issues come up, you will have the up-to-date information and call to action items you need at your fingertips to make sure your voice is heard.

So please, as your first step, sign up for the NVIC Advocacy Portal.

Contact Your Elected Officials

NVIC will help educate you about how to write or email your elected state representatives and share your concerns. You might even want to call them, or better yet, make an appointment to visit them in person in their office. Don't let them forget you!

It is so important for you to reach out and make sure your concerns get on the radar screen of the leaders and opinion makers in your community, especially the politicians you elect and are directly involved in making vaccine laws in your state. These are your elected representatives, so you have a right and a responsibility to let them know what's really happening in your life and the lives of people you know when it comes to vaccine mandates. Be sure to share the "real life" experiences that you or people you know have had with vaccination.

Internet Resources Where You Can Learn More

I encourage you to visit the following web pages on the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) website at www.NVIC.org:

  • NVIC Memorial for Vaccine Victims: View descriptions and photos of children and adults, who have suffered vaccine reactions, injuries and deaths. If you or your child experiences an adverse vaccine event, please consider posting and sharing your story here.
  • If You Vaccinate, Ask 8 Questions:  Learn how to recognize vaccine reaction symptoms and prevent vaccine injuries.
  • Vaccine Freedom Wall: View or post descriptions of harassment by doctors or  state officials for making independent vaccine choices.

Connect with Your Doctor or Find a New One that Will Listen and Care

If your pediatrician or doctor refuses to provide medical care to you or your child unless you agree to get vaccines you don't want, I strongly encourage you to have the courage to find another doctor. Harassment, intimidation, and refusal of medical care is becoming the modus operandi of the medical establishment in an effort to stop the change in attitude of many parents about vaccinations after they become truly educated about health and vaccination.

If you are treated with disrespect or are harassed in any way by a doctor (or government official), do not engage in an unproductive argument. You may want to contact an attorney, your elected state representatives or local media if you or your child are threatened.

However, there is hope.

At least 15 percent of young doctors recently polled admit that they're starting to adopt a more individualized approach to vaccinations in direct response to the vaccine safety concerns of parents. It is good news that there is a growing number of smart young doctors, who prefer to work as partners with parents in making personalized vaccine decisions for children, including delaying vaccinations or giving children fewer vaccines on the same day or continuing to provide medical care for those families, who decline use of one or more vaccines.

So take the time to locate a doctor, who treats you with compassion and respect and is willing to work with you to do what is right for your child.

Protect Your Right to Informed Consent and Defend Vaccine Exemptions

With all the uncertainty surrounding the safety and efficacy of vaccines, it's critical to protect your right to make independent health choices and exercise voluntary informed consent to vaccination. It is urgent that everyone in America stand up and fight to protect and expand vaccine informed consent protections in state public health and employment laws. The best way to do this is to get personally involved with your state legislators and educating the leaders in your community.

THINK GLOBALLY, ACT LOCALLY.

National vaccine policy recommendations are made at the federal level but vaccine laws are made at the state level. It is at the state level where your action to protect your vaccine choice rights can have the greatest impact. It is critical for EVERYONE to get involved now in standing up for the legal right to make voluntary vaccine choices in America because those choices are being threatened by lobbyists representing drug companies, medical trade associations and public health officials, who are trying to persuade legislators to strip all vaccine exemptions from public health laws.

Signing up for NVIC's free Advocacy Portal at www.NVICAdvocacy.org gives you immediate, easy access to your own state legislators on your Smart Phone or computer so you can make your voice heard. You will be kept up-to-date on the latest state bills threatening your vaccine choice rights and get practical, useful information to help you become an effective vaccine choice advocate in your own community. Also, when national vaccine issues come up, you will have the up-to-date information and call to action items you need at your fingertips..

So please, as your first step, sign up for the NVIC Advocacy Portal.

Share Your Story with the Media and People You Know

If you or a family member has suffered a serious vaccine reaction, injury or death, please talk about it. If we don't share information and experiences with each other, everybody feels alone and afraid to speak up. Write a letter to the editor if you have a different perspective on a vaccine story that appears in your local newspaper. Make a call in to a radio talk show that is only presenting one side of the vaccine story.

I must be frank with you; you have to be brave because you might be strongly criticized for daring to talk about the "other side" of the vaccine story. Be prepared for it and have the courage to not back down. Only by sharing our perspective and what we know to be true about vaccination will the public conversation about vaccination open up so people are not afraid to talk about it.

We cannot allow the drug companies and medical trade associations funded by drug companies or public health officials promoting forced use of a growing list of vaccines to dominate the conversation about vaccination. The vaccine injured cannot be swept under the carpet and treated like nothing more than "statistically acceptable collateral damage" of national one-size-fits-all mandatory vaccination policies that put way too many people at risk for injury and death. We shouldn't be treating people like guinea pigs instead of human beings.

Internet Resources Where You Can Learn More

I encourage you to visit the website of the non-profit charity, the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), at www.NVIC.org:

  • NVIC Memorial for Vaccine Victims: View descriptions and photos of children and adults, who have suffered vaccine reactions, injuries and deaths. If you or your child experiences an adverse vaccine event, please consider posting and sharing your story here.
  • If You Vaccinate, Ask 8 Questions: Learn how to recognize vaccine reaction symptoms and prevent vaccine injuries.
  • Vaccine Freedom Wall: View or post descriptions of harassment and sanctions by doctors, employers, school and health officials for making independent vaccine choices.

Connect with Your Doctor or Find a New One That Will Listen and Care

If your pediatrician or doctor refuses to provide medical care to you or your child unless you agree to get vaccines you don't want, I strongly encourage you to have the courage to find another doctor. Harassment, intimidation, and refusal of medical care is becoming the modus operandi of the medical establishment in an effort to stop the change in attitude of many parents about vaccinations after they become truly educated about health and vaccination.

However, there is hope.

At least 15 percent of young doctors recently polled admit that they're starting to adopt a more individualized approach to vaccinations in direct response to the vaccine safety concerns of parents. It is good news that there is a growing number of smart young doctors, who prefer to work as partners with parents in making personalized vaccine decisions for children, including delaying vaccinations or giving children fewer vaccines on the same day or continuing to provide medical care for those families, who decline use of one or more vaccines.

So take the time to locate a doctor, who treats you with compassion and respect and is willing to work with you to do what is right for your child.

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