Illinois Wants To Repeal Religious Exemption For Vaccinations

( – There is plenty of debate about vaccinations. Schools throughout the country have mandated vaccinations for children before they enter the school system, but that has been altered recently with more and more parents choosing not to vaccinate.

One reason why parents choose not to vaccinate their children is for religious reasons. Many states have exemptions in place that allow children who aren’t vaccinated to still enter the public school system if the child wasn’t vaccinated for religious reasons.

In Illinois, that may all soon change.

Heather Steans, a Democratic state senator in Illinois, has proposed a new bill that would repeal Illinois’ religious exemption in regard to vaccinations. This currently applies to children whose parents have objected to either medical examinations or immunizations for specific religious reasons.

The existing language of the bill that would be removed includes the phrase “exempting children from medical examinations and immunizations” when a parent decides a treatment “conflicts with his or her religious tenets or practices.”

The new law would apply to all minors at 14 years old, and it would also potentially classify a child as “neglected or abused” if a parent decided to either refuse or delay a vaccination.

Throughout the country, states give parents some choice when it comes to vaccinations. Of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, 46 allow parents to opt children out of requirements for vaccinations because of religious reasons, while 15 go as far as allowing parents to opt children out for non-religious reasons that would be considered philosophical or moral grounds.

Current law in Illinois says vaccinations against 12 illnesses is mandated for entry into the state’s public school system. These illnesses are haemophilus influenzae type b, hepatitis B, meningococcal conjugate, diphtheria, measles, polio, mumps, pnemococcal conjugate, pertussis, varicella, tetanus and rubella.

The Illinois Family Institute is one organization that is not happy about the proposed bill. As they said in a statement:

“We cannot cede more authority to the state over the lives of our children and families, and we cannot remain silent in the face of these overt attacks on parental rights and religious liberty. This is not an issue for politicians! This is a decision that should be made by parents and their pediatricians.”

The religious debate around vaccinations comes from the fact that certain vaccines available in the U.S. are derived from strands of cell lines that were obtained from elective abortions back in the 1960s. With no other vaccines available for these diseases from other means, some people believe it’s against their religious or moral beliefs since they are against abortion.

There are some “ethical alternatives” to these abortion cell lines for vaccinations, but they currently aren’t available in the U.S., according to a speech given by Dr. Tara Sander Lee to Congress back in 2018. These alternative cell lines are being used in Japan now, but until something changes here in the U.S., the debate about vaccinations and religious liberty is likely to rage on.