Bethel Parents and Other CT Parents and Orgs. Filed Federal Lawsuit Rejecting Religious Vaccine Exemption Bill for Child Vaccinations

Report by Paula Antolini, May 4, 2021, 9:42AM EDT

Two organizations and three parents in Connecticut, including one from Bethel, filed a lawsuit on Friday in the U.S. District Court of Connecticut, against a bill recently signed into law by Governor Ned Lamont, that rejects the religious vaccine exemption law HB-6423. The bill is entitled “AN ACT CONCERNING IMMUNIZATIONS. To protect the public health by ensuring adequate and appropriate immunizations of children.” [ Read bill here. ]

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Constantina Lora of Bethel, Miriam Hidalgo of Glastonbury, and Asma Elidrissi of Stamford, all filed suit along with the nonprofits We the Patriots USA, Inc. and CT Freedom Alliance, according to NBC CT, read more here.

The parents have a total of five children who are of age for preschool or higher grades. Lora has one child in preschool in Bethel, Hidalgo has two children ready to go into daycare, Elidrissi has two children, one for preschool and daycare and the other for kindergarten.

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The lawsuit reads that the parents believe it is “morally wrong” to require vaccinations because of their respective religions. The lawsuit also states that Lora and her husband are “devout Greek Orthodox,” Hidalgo and her husband are “devout Catholics,” Elidrissi and her husband are “devout Muslims” and claims it is “unconstitutional for Connecticut to require parents to choose between educating their children or their religious beliefs.”

The plaintiffs are also claiming that the new law violates the First Amendment right regarding free exercise of religion, NBC CT reports, and also the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments were violated, according to the lawsuit. They have also claimed unlawful discrimination in violation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

The bill does not apply to children who currently have the religious exemption. The bill will go into effect September 2022.

“This is an issue that I have spent a lot of time researching and discussing with medical experts, and it is something that I take very seriously knowing the public health impact that it has on our children, families, and communities,” Governor Lamont stated on April 28, 2021. “When it comes to the safety of our children, we need to take an abundance of caution. This legislation is needed to protect our kids against serious illnesses that have been well-controlled for many decades, such as measles, tuberculosis, and whooping cough, but have reemerged. In recent years, the number of children in our state who have not received routine vaccinations has been steadily increasing, which has been mirrored by significant growth in preventable diseases across the nation. I want to make it clear, this law does not take away the choice of parents to make medical decisions for their children. But, if they do choose not to have their children vaccinated, this bill best ensures that other children and their families will not be exposed to these deadly diseases for hours each day in our schools.”

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