In 2016, MSNBC host Melissa Harris Perry made a concerning statement. Discussing public education, Harris Perry said, “We have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families.”1
Fast forward three years later, concepts like “kids belong to the community” are being melded into “greater good” public health vaccination talking points from politicians deciding policy.
For the past five years the debate was whether or not parents should vaccinate their kids. Now the devolving debate is whether parents should be removed from the picture entirely when it comes to vaccine decisions. The health community and government representatives are now deeming parents and the need for parental consent ‘a barrier to obtaining vaccination.’
During the 2019 legislative session, New York saw 17 democratic-sponsored vaccine-related bills, two aimed at eliminating the ‘barrier parent.’ One bill2 sought to allow any child who is at least fourteen years of age to consent to certain immunizations recommended without parental consent. The other bill, which has been filed in each legislative session since 2009, but failed to move forward, would allow a health care practitioner to administer vaccines for sexually transmitted diseases to a minor without the parent’s consent or knowledge. Fortunately, there were enough medical freedom advocates left in the political mix that both New York bill pairs died in committees and failed to move forward.
Washington DC’s B23-01713 is active, however. It seeks to add a new section into the existing regulations that would allow a minor child of any age to consent to receive a vaccine. The bill, and its hearing, signaled a new high-water mark towards the removal of parents from some of their children’s most important medical decisions.
During the public hearing in June 2019, pediatrician Dr. Helene Felman, representing Washington DC’s chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), stated:
As a pediatrician, I like the legislation as it stands because it offers the opportunity to capture those young adults who can make informed decisions at technically any age.
Several other proponents of the bill who testified similarly danced around committing to an age they believed would be appropriate for a child to make their own medical decisions….