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55 Families File Class Action Lawsuit To Repeal NY's Religious Exemption Ban On Vaccines

The measles vaccine.
The measles vaccine. Photo Credit: Flickr

Fifty-five families are suing the state in Supreme Court challenging a new law that repeals the religious exemption for vaccinations.

Attorneys Michael H. Sussman and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., filed the suit on Wednesday, July 10, stating the plaintiffs, held lawful religious exemptions, and requested that the court repeal the measure. the suit said.

The suit claims the families can no longer educate their children or send them to camps as a result of the law.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.


“To deprive families of the rights to freedom of religious expression, parental rights, and the right to either a public or private education, the state must demonstrate a “compelling state interest” that the state has failed to prove here,” said Sussman said in a statement on the Children's Health Defense site.

The legislation was pushed by local politicians following a massive outbreak of measles in Rockland County among unvaccinated mainly Jewish children and families. During the outbreak, which is still active, but slowing its progress, there were 280 confirmed cases.

When the law was passed Rockland County Executive Ed Day, said the law was a "great step forward in protecting the public health here in New York. This law should lead to a substantial increase in vaccination rates and to improved protection of our most vulnerable residents; infants, the immunocompromised and those who have legitimate medical issues."

Sen. David Carlucci


New York Senator David Carlucci, who represents Rockland and Westchester counties, said the law is aimed at protecting all of the public.

"The law to end non-medical vaccine exemptions is the right step forward when we see the number of Measles cases across the country and in our own backyard., Carlucci said. "The epicenter for the Measles outbreak was here in New York State and to protect public health we need to increase vaccination rates. We believe this law will do just that while protecting our vulnerable like infants and those who are immunocompromised. This law is constitutional and to delay it from taking effect will jeopardize public health, which must be our first priority."

Kennedy, Chief Legal Counsel for Children’s Health Defense, said that "religious rights are fundamental," and it was unconstitutional for the state to deprive people of such important rights.

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