By Cleve Bryan
TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) – More 100 people filled the Assembly Health and Senior Services committee hearing Monday to oppose a bill making it tougher to get religious exemptions from vaccinations.
“No one has the right to ask me to quantify or qualify the nature of my relationship with my creator – that is between me and God,” said Jennifer Polishook.
In 2008, New Jersey made it easier for obtaining religious exemptions by saying any mention of the word “religion” or “religious” was sufficient grounds for an exemption.
Some lawmakers believe the current policy is being abused by people who simply fear or morally object to vaccines.
Last year about 9,000 New Jersey students received religious exemptions and health experts worry about the increased risk of a preventable outbreak like measles.
“You must get your children immunized. It isn’t your right to put them at risk, it isn’t your right to put other people at risk,” says Dr. Lawrence Frenkel who is a pediatrician and expert on vaccinations.
Bill A-1931 requires parents to cite a bona-fide religious reason to get their kids religious exemptions from required school vaccinations.
It passed committee 9-1 on Monday with two members of the committee abstaining and will now get a vote by the full Assembly.
Companion bill S-1147 passed a Senate committee last Monday and is heading for second reading before the full Senate.