Unconstitutional New York Bills Would Give Children The Right To Consent To Vaccines
April 18, 2012
By Alan Phillips, J.D.
“So New York thinks children are smart enough to make their own health decisions. If this is the case, why not let them eat ice cream for dinner?” –KTRN
New York’s A343 and S384, if enacted into law, will give children the right to consent to HPV and Hep B vaccines, without the knowledge and consent of their parents. Regardless of your position on vaccines, these bills set a disturbing precedent in violation of the U.S. Constitution. If you live in New York, take or send this Memorandum of Law to your state representatives, along with any other concerns you may have, to oppose these bills!
As a starting place, constituents are “one person with one vote.” If your position is one held by a minority, which is usually the case with vaccine freedom-of-choice advocates, legislative activism is an up-hill battle. But legislative activism involves the art of persuasion, since ultimately, legislatures can enact any law they have the votes for, Constitutional or not. So, if you can tell your representative, “I don’t like this bill” and why that can be persuasive, but if you can add to that, “and by the way, you can’t enact this bill into law because it’s unconstitutional,” you can substantially bolster your “one person, one vote” starting point. Furthermore, a loud minority can often influence legislation considerably, and a compelling legal argument can add considerable “volume” to your position. So, if this Memorandum represents your views, then given a copy to your NY rep today!
Meanwhile, here’s a summary of some of the legal and other problems with NY’s A343 and S384:
1. They are unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court has stated: “Most children, even in adolescence, simply are not able to make sound judgments concerning many decisions, including their need for medical care or treatment. Parents can and must make those judgments.” Giving medical decision-making authority to children violates parents’ 14th Amendment Constitutional due process right to parent their children. When the state takes parental decision-making away from parents, it is essentially saying that the parents are unfit to make those decisions. When the state gives that authority to children, it is saying that kids are fit to make decisions that the parents aren’t fit to make. Rather absurd, isn’t it?!
2. These NY bills violate parents’ First Amendment “free exercise” of religion. Parents, and not children, have the legal authority to exercise a vaccine religious exemption for their children under N.Y. Pub. Health Law § 2164(9). They also violate the NY State Constitution’s religious liberty section, which supports NY parents’ right to refuse vaccines for their children for religious reasons.
3. These bills violate the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, which requires “each healthcare provider who administers a vaccine” to “provide to the legal representatives of any child” a copy of information “prior to the administration of the vaccine.” A child can’t consent to the administration of a vaccine without the parent’s knowledge and consent if the person administering the vaccine must first give the parent vaccine information. If healthcare providers administer a vaccine to a child without first giving the required information to parents, they are violating federal law, and in the process, probably violating state medical ethical rules at the same time (because of violating federal law), subjecting themselves to discipline by their state medical, nursing, or other relevant boards.