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New York on Tuesday became the latest state to advance legislation that would allow minors to receive vaccinations without parental knowledge or consent.
New York Assembly Bill A276 would allow minors to receive treatments to prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) — including vaccines, such as Merck’s Gardasil human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine — without parental knowledge or consent.
In a 16/10 vote, members of the New York State Assembly’s health committee voted to allow the bill to proceed to the state’s rules committee for review, after which it may come to the assembly floor for a final vote.
Eight Republicans and two Democrats voted against the legislation.
The Children’s Health Defense (CHD) tweeted a video of the vote. During the vote, more than 30 constituents who opposed the vote stood in the room to watch while more than 130 more stood outside the building chanting, “No.”
‘Disgusting’ NY Health Committee Passes Minor Consent Bill for STD-Related Vaccines
The passing of NY A276B (https://t.co/fw7JXybTk0…) by the NY Health Committee and its proposed companion senate version S762A has sparked controversy and raised concerns among parents.
— Children’s Health Defense (@ChildrensHD) May 17, 2023
The New York Senate on May 16 introduced a “same as” bill — meaning it echoed the language of the New York Assembly health committee’s bill — that may soon be reviewed by the Senate health committee.
Both the Assembly and the Senate bills are necessary for the proposed legislation to be enacted into law in New York.
New York’s proposed legislation does not specify how young minors can be to get STD vaccines without their parents’ knowledge or consent, stating only that the minor must have the “capacity to consent.”
The New York bill reads:
“A licensed physician, or in a hospital, a staff physician, or licensed midwife acting within their lawful scope of practice, may provide health care related to the prevention of a sexually transmissible disease, including administering vaccines, to a person under the age of eighteen years without the consent or knowledge of the parents or guardians of such person, provided that the person has capacity to consent to the care, without regard to the person’s age, and the person consents.”
Merck faces hundreds of lawsuits over its Gardasil HPV vaccine, alleging the drugmaker knew its vaccine could cause serious injuries.
According to the law firm Wisner Baum:
“In 2022, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) consolidated all federally filed Gardasil cases before Judge Conrad in North Carolina, where more than 75 claims have been consolidated. Another 80 cases that have already gone through the mandatory Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) are expected to be filed in the MDL in 2023.
“At least 200 additional cases are currently pending in the VICP, and another 150 are under review. Most of these cases will likely end up in the federal Gardasil MDL.”
Many parents — including Bonnie Skala Kiladitis, a mother of two from Queens — believe the proposed legislation violates their parental rights.
“No one should be making medical decisions for — or with — my child without me,” Skala Kiladitis told Teachers For Choice, an organization of teachers and parents “against forced medical mandates for any American to keep their job.”
Michael Kane, founder of Teachers For Choice and regional chapter coordinator for CHD, helped organize a rally of more than a dozen grassroots groups — including CHD — in Albany outside the building where the health committee cast their vote.
Kane — a former New York special education teacher who was fired over declining the COVID-19 vaccines — attended the vote and said lawmakers “certainly felt our presence.”
‘We may have lost the battle, but we did not lose the war’
New York — along with California — is a “banner state,” Kane said. When New York or California does something, “everybody else watches.”
Kane told The Defender:
“Back in 2019, New York lost the religious exemption to vaccination. After that, Maine lost the religious exemption and then Connecticut lost it. Then they tried to take out New Jersey.”
What happens now in New York is pivotal, Kane said, noting that at least three other New England states recently introduced similar measures:
- Connecticut on Jan. 17 introduced a bill that would allow children as young as 12 to receive vaccinations without parental consent. The bill has yet to be scheduled for a vote.
- On Feb. 1, Maryland introduced a similar bill that would give children ages 14 and up “the same capacity as an adult to consent to vaccination.” The bill says those under 14 may be able to consent if their doctor feels they have the capacity to do so.
- Vermont last month introduced a bill that would allow minors as young as 12 to receive medical treatments — including vaccines — “for the prevention of a sexually transmitted infection” without parental consent.
Kane said now is the time to pressure New York lawmakers to reject this legislation that would strip away parents’ rights over their children’s health, Kane said, because New York’s legislative session closes on June 8.
“We may have lost the battle, but we did not lose the war,” he added.
Constituents concerned about Big Pharma’s predatory marketing of vaccines to minors need to put more pressure on lawmakers over the next three weeks by showing why the proposed legislation is a bad idea, Kane said.
Kane said there were “multiple lobbyists” in the room when the vote occurred and that he has heard from informants that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) wants to pass the legislation.
“We know there is an agenda being worked by special interests. … We suspect it’s the AAP. The AAP is national, so they are going to have their lobbyists working multiple states — especially states where they feel they have majorities that are favorable to the Big Pharma bills.”
If not voted into law before June 8, the proposed bills would “die” when the session closes and would have to be reintroduced when the next legislative session opens in January.
“And next year is an election year, so it would be harder for them [lawmakers influenced by special interests] to push through this type of pro-Pharma legislation,” he added.
CHD’s New York chapter is actively monitoring all New York legislative action on the minor consent bills and needs “all hands on deck in and around New York” to halt the further progress of the bills, Kane said.
Bills undermine patient informed consent, parental rights
Kim Mack Rosenberg, CHD’s acting outside general counsel, said she was “disturbed” to see minor consent bills introduced and moving forward in multiple states, “as just happened in New York yesterday.”
Mack Rosenberg — co-founder and president of the New York Metro chapter of the National Autism Associaton — told The Defender:
“These bills undermine patient informed consent — which has been a bedrock of medicine — as well as parental rights and decision-making authority and family unity. With respect to informed consent, there is the fundamental and critical question of whether children can give true informed consent.
“This serious question seems to be ignored or downplayed by proponents of these bills, which is illustrative of a dangerous declining respect for obtaining true informed consent generally.
“Children, including teens, are vulnerable to pressure from adults — especially those they think are in a position of authority — as well as peers and are subject to coercion, which eviscerates informed consent.”
Mack Rosenberg is concerned that most young people are not aware of details of their own and their family’s medical history that could have a profound — “and potentially lifelong” — impact from a reaction to a medication, vaccine or treatment.
“Obviously,” she added, “this potential lack of knowledge also calls into question whether a child’s consent is actually ‘informed.’”
“Additionally, these laws insert a very real wedge between parents and children,” Rosenberg said, adding:
“In essence, minor consent laws encourage children to hide information from or even to lie to their parents, threatening the fabric of family units and undermining parental decision-making authority.”
Mack Rosenberg is far from alone in her concerns. Kane said that before New York’s May 16 vote, at least 500 concerned constituents sent their representatives a letter signed by more than 1,000 medical professionals in support of parental rights and informed consent.
The letter said:
“To bypass parents and allow underage children to decide what gets injected into them is inconsistent with state laws, medical ethics, common sense, and optimal medical care of children. It needs to end.”
California grassroots activism defeats teen vaccine consent bill
Stopping such bills is possible, according to grassroots activists in California who last summer defeated a bill that would have allowed California children ages 15 and older to be vaccinated without parental consent.
State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), who authored the bill — Senate Bill 866 (SB 866) — announced on Aug. 31, 2022, he would not put the measure up for a vote in the California Assembly because it did not have enough support to pass.
In its original form, Wiener’s bill would have allowed children ages 12 and older to “consent to vaccination when the vaccine is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and meets the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” according to the bill’s official fact sheet.
After it was met with stiff resistance, California lawmakers amended the bill in June 2022 by raising the proposed consent age from 12 to 15 years in hopes of garnering more support — but raising the consent age to 15 did little to nullify many individuals’ concerns.
Nicole Pearson, attorney and founder of Facts Law Truth Justice, told The Defender that the bill’s defeat was the “result of thousands of tireless hours of millions of Californians uniting, educating and empowering each other, and rising up together to take our seats at the political table where we belong and have the right to be.”
CHD lawsuit stops minor consent law in Washington, D.C.
Grassroots activism — and a lawsuit brought by CHD — also recently halted a minor consent law in Washington, D.C.
The District of Columbia in 2020 passed legislation similar to New York’s bill, the Minor Consent for Vaccinations Amendment Act of 2020, which allowed children 11 and older to consent to vaccinations without their parents’ knowledge or consent.
However, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on March 18, 2023, issued an order granting a preliminary injunction prohibiting the mayor of the District of Columbia, the D.C. Department of Health and D.C. public schools from enforcing the legislation until further order of the court.
CHD and the Parental Rights Foundation filed a lawsuit seeking a court order to declare the act unconstitutional. The plaintiffs (Booth, et al.) are four parents of minor children who attend public school in Washington, D.C. Oral arguments were heard on March 3, 2022.
The law specifically targeted children whose parents have religious exemptions for their children.
The measure contained several provisions designed to deceive parents and hide the fact that their children have been vaccinated against their parental judgment, authority or religious convictions.
The court order stated the parents “have shown they are likely to succeed on the merits because the District’s law requires providers to hide children’s vaccination status from parents who invoke their religious exemption rights.”
Most states require parental consent for minors to get vaccinated
Brian Abramson, an expert in vaccine law, pointed out that a substantial number of legal doctrines regarding minor vaccine consent laws are — or codify — court-made adoptions of “mature minor” principles that historically originated with right-to-work determinations.
Abramson told The Defender in an email:
“The legislation in the field tends to be specific to circumstances (for example, in some states a minor who becomes pregnant is quixotically therefore considered to be mature enough to make their own medical decisions), and may apply only to specific vaccines.”
Tennessee previously invoked the “‘mature minor’ doctrine” to allow minors 14 and older to be vaccinated without a parent’s consent — but lawmakers last month passed a law requiring healthcare providers to obtain consent from a parent or legal guardian before vaccinating a minor.
In Alabama, teens 14 and older do not need parental consent to receive medical treatments, including vaccines. However, in November 2021, the state passed a bill that created an exception to the law by requiring parental consent for COVID-19 vaccines.
South Carolina teens ages 16 and up do not need parental consent to get a vaccine. Some lawmakers in 2021 introduced legislation requiring parental consent for COVID-19 vaccination, but the bill did not pass.
Oregon does not require parental consent for minors ages 15 and older to receive vaccines.
Rhode Island allows teens ages 16 and older to consent to vaccination with parental consent.