March 12, 2002
In reviewing SB 385, which we understand has been passed in the Senate, we would call your attention to two dangerous flaws:
Section 9 empowers "the department and county boards of health ... to require ... persons ... to submit to vaccination, ... whether or not the disease may be an active threat." Only religious exemptions are permitted, and only in the absence of an epidemic or immediate threat.
The only currently plausible biological weapon causing a high level of lethality and easy transmissibility from person to person, for which a vaccine exists, is smallpox. Yet smallpox vaccine has a large number of medical contraindications and causes a significant number of serious adverse effects including death. Public health officials have warned against mass smallpox immunization for this reasons. A new vaccine would have to be considered experimental, and forced vaccination would then violate the Nuremberg protocol.
We urge you not to enact a policy of forcing citizens to submit to medical treatments to which they object or which may cause them serious harm. In the event of a true emergency, most citizens will demand immunizations. Forcing immunizations on citizens who choose to exercise their right to liberty by declining treatment will cause far more problems than it solves. A genuine threat to public health can be contained by constitutional and less intrusive means.
We also find that Section 15, permitting compulsion of a medical facility to provide services or the use of its property, is unconstitutional in enforcing involuntary servitude and in taking property without just compensation.
Thank you for considering these issues in your deliberations.
Jane M. Orient, M.D., F.A.C.P., Executive Director