Parental and children’s rights – vaccination mandates

This article is by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy and the law. 

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease.

On September 23, 2015, Lauren Stephens filed a “Parental Rights and Responsibilities” initiative with the California Attorney General. This initiative provides a chance to reflect on the tension between parental rights, the rights of a child and the role of the state.

Who is Lauren Stephens? She is involved in the attempt to get a referendum on the ballot regarding SB 277, the bill removing personal belief exemptions to school immunization requirements, sometimes referred to as a vaccination mandate, in California, along with being associated with efforts to recall several representatives who supported the bill, including Senator Richard Pan,

This article proceeds in three parts. First, it sets out the general framework of parental rights and a child’s rights. Second, it explains the initiative – and how it applies, or more probably doesn’t, to the authors’ target, vaccination mandates in SB 277. Third, it explains why the initiative, and similar statutes, are a problematic idea and the potential harm to children from those. Continue reading “Parental and children’s rights – vaccination mandates”