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Eliminates exemptions for strong moral and ethical convictions

Location: PA
Title: Eliminates exemptions for strong moral and ethical convictions
Identifier: SB 217
Stance: OPPOSE
Action Required: None at this time, not moving
Status: Introduced and referred to Senate Education Committee on 1/26/2017

Description:

UPDATE: 4/5/2017 - SB 217 has not had any activity since being introduced.  However, the PA legislative session is not scheduled to adjourn until 11/30/2017 and bills can carry over from odd numbered years to even. 

UPDATE: 1/27/2017 - SB 217 was introduced on 1/26/2017 and is sponsored by Senator Leach.  This bill eliminated exemptions for moral and ethical convictions by adding the following new law:

(e) Notwithstanding any rule or regulation to the contrary, a strong moral or ethical conviction similar to a religious belief may not qualify as an exemption from the immunization requirements of this section. 

http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/billinfo/billinfo.cfm?syear=2017&sind=0&body=S&type=B&bn=217 - text, status and history

UPDATE: 1/16/2017 - Even though SB 696 failed to move in 2015 and 2016, Senator Leach intends to introduce another bill to eliminate exemptions in PA for a strong moral or ethical conviction similar to a religious belief and is currently looking for cosponsors. 

Senator Leach posted a Senate Co-Sponsorship Memoranda on Jan. 9, 2017: Advanced Search

http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=S&SPick=20170&cosponId=21893&mobile_choice=suppress

Increasing Immunization Rates in Pennsylvania

In the near future I will re-introduce legislation designed to reduce the number of Pennsylvania children who do not receive safe vaccinations vital to their health and safety, the health and safety of other children, and the public in general.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pennsylvania has the second lowest vaccination rate in the nation. While Pennsylvania law requires that children receive certain vaccinations before they may attend school, exemptions exist for a pre-existing health issue, a religious objection, or "a strong moral or ethical conviction similar to a religious belief.”

My bill will eliminate only the exemption for “a strong moral or ethical conviction similar to a religious belief.” Based on statistics compiled by the Pennsylvania Department of Health for the 2013-14 school year, 2,988 students received the religious exemption, while 3,394 received the philosophical exemption. Thus, my bill would reduce, by more than half, the number of children not vaccinated in Pennsylvania for non-medical reasons.

Given the danger that a low vaccination rate poses to public health, it is imperative that we take reasonable steps to increase the vaccination rate.

If you have questions about this legislation, please contact my Legislative Director, Jon Tew at jtew@pasenate.com or 610-768-4200.  


UPDATE: 6/6/2016 - SB 696 did not have any activity after being introduced in 2015.  However, bills in PA carry over from odd to even years and the legislative session is scheduled to end on Nov. 30, 2016. 

SB 696 was introduced on April 8, 2015 and referred to the Senate Education Committee. This bill is sponsored by Senators LEACH, FONTANA, STEFANO, HUGHES, MENSCH AND FARNESE.  

SB 696 would narrow the religious exemption to vaccination in PA by adding the following new section to existing law:


April 11, 1974 (P.L.258, No.67), is amended by adding a
subsection to read:
Section 1303. Immunization Required; Penalty.--* * *
(e) Notwithstanding any rule or regulation to the contrary,
a strong moral or ethical conviction similar to a religious
belief may not qualify as an exemption from the immunization
requirements of this section

http://www.legis.state.pa.us/CFDOCS/Legis/PN/Public/btCheck.cfm?txtType=PDF&sessYr=2015&sessInd=0&billBody=S&billTyp=B&billNbr=0696&pn=0712

http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/billinfo/BillInfo.cfm?syear=2015&sind=0&body=S&type=B&bn=696 - status and history for SB 696