(NaturalNews) A federal judge has upheld New York City's policy barring non-immunized children from attending public school when another student has a disease (and has already been vaccinated) that allegedly can be prevented with a vaccine.
In citing a 109-year-old Supreme Court ruling that grants states wide latitude in formulating public health policy, the case essentially centered around the government's ability to require vaccination versus an individual's right to refuse them, The New York Times reported.
U.S. District Judge William F. Kuntz II ruled against three families who had claimed that their right to free exercise of religion was violated when they were forced to keep their children home from school -- sometimes for a month at a time -- because of NYC's immunization policies.
The Times further reported:
The Supreme Court, Judge Kuntz wrote in his ruling, has "strongly suggested that religious objectors are not constitutionally exempt from vaccinations."
The lawyer for the plaintiffs, Patricia Finn, said she plans to appeal the decision, announced this month. On [June 19], Ms. Finn asked the district court to rehear the case.
You have a choice - but really, you don't
Public health officials say they are concerned that some diseases are experiencing a resurgence in areas that have low vaccination rates. They applauded the judge's decision, noting that it reinforced efforts by the city to balance a very strict vaccine mandate with the limited exceptions for those who choose not to vaccinate.
There are areas around the city where groups of citizens have refused to vaccinate, but overall, officials said, vaccination rates are high. And state law requires that children must be vaccinated before attending public school, unless parents can demonstrate a religious reservation or a doctor can attest that vaccines will likely harm the child. State law says that parents claiming a religious reservation or exemption are not required to prove that their faith opposes vaccines, the Times said. However, they are required to provide a written explanation of a "genuine and sincere" religious objection, but school officials have the authority to either accept or reject them.
Other states even allow philosophical objections to vaccination, but New York state is not one of them.
A number of parents have objected to immunizing their kids because of the established links between vaccines and autism; mainstream papers like the Times quickly discount or deny such links, despite numerous studies stating otherwise.
Two of the families involved in the lawsuit had received religious exemptions, but they were challenging the city's policy of barring their children from class, saying it amounted to a violation of their First Amendment right to religious freedom, as well as their 14th Amendment right to equal protection under the law, in addition to other claims. Their kids had been kept out of school when other students had chickenpox, according to the suit.
'Intoxicated' by immunizations
The third plaintiff, Dina Check, sued on different grounds. She claimed that the city had improperly denied her seven-year-old daughter a religious exemption, adding that the city rejected it after officials denied her a medical exemption, which sowed doubts among school administrators of the veracity and authenticity of her religious objection.
Check said the request for a medical exemption was mistakenly submitted by a school nurse without her consent.
The Times added:
After the school barred her daughter, Ms. Check home-schooled her and then moved her to a private school that accepted her daughter without the vaccinations. State vaccination requirements cover public and private schools, but in New York City, private schools have more autonomy in handling exemptions.
Check said her daughter became "intoxicated" by a few immunizations during her infancy, which she said then led to a host of food and milk allergies, as well as rashes and infections. She said those occurrences, combined with a religious revelation she had during pregnancy, turned her away from traditional medicine and toward holistic treatments.