A New York moment:
I wrote back in April about the measles outbreak in New York, and I’m still getting long emails from readers about that piece. People feel more passionately about vaccines than about most other issues I’ve written about! The drama here in New York continues to unfold.
In the wake of the measles outbreak, and the refusal of a small segment of parents here (about 4 percent) to vaccinate, the New York Legislature this summer removed the religious exemption for vaccine requirements. No religious groups publicly opposed this move while the Legislature was debating it, although now the evangelical lobbying arm in Albany, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, is calling the exemption’s removal a “government overreach.” Federal and state courts have repeatedly upheld the elimination of religious exemptions for vaccines on public health grounds.
Now there is only a medical exemption for vaccines, and state lawmakers tightened up the requirements for that exemption so it can’t be easily abused. Even without the Legislature’s action, summer camps (a staple for New York children) had banned unvaccinated children from attending.
The school year has just started here and some New York parents have decided to homeschool their children rather than give them the required vaccines for school. The Wall Street Journal talked to several such parents who feel persecuted by the state requirements. But interestingly, the piece contains nary a mention of a specific religious reason for parents not vaccinating. There are the reasons I heard from our readers in emails—the perceived danger of vaccines—but not an outright religious reason.
In my measles reporting, I did find parents with religious reasons for avoiding vaccines. Those reasons mainly had to do with the perception that certain vaccines were morally complicit with research on aborted fetuses—or for more New Age reasons, like that a child should not be injected with foreign substances. But it appears to me that many parents here were using the religious exemption even though they had nonreligious reasons for avoiding vaccination.
Worth your time:
A French judge has affirmed the right of a rooster to continue crowing. The case drew national attention because the rooster became “a symbol of rural values—eternal values in France—that ... are under threat.”
The court awarded the sued rooster 1,000 euros in damages.
This week I learned:
New York, in its voting campaign to create more statues of women around the city, has declined to fund the highest vote getter—Catholic nun Frances Cabrini, an early patron of immigrants. Cabrini built orphanages, schools, and hospitals across the United States.