Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Court Says Mother's Objections To Immunizations Were Not Religiously Motivated

In Check v. New York City Department of Education, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 71124 (ED NY, May 20, 2013), a New York federal district court adopted a magistrate's recommendations (2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 71223, March 22, 2013) and refused to issue a preliminary injunction to require admission of plaintiff's 5-year old daughter to school without required immunizations.  The court rejected plaintiff's claim that she is entitled to a religious exemption under the New York statute (Pub. Health L. Sec. 2164(9)), and instead concluded that the mother's "mistrust of vaccinations is driven by health reasons and not religious conviction." The court said in part:
To be sure, Plaintiff often refers to God and religion in describing her aversion to immunizations.... Indeed, this court has no doubt that Plaintiff is a deeply religious woman whose religion plays an important, and even central, role in her life. However, not every belief held by a religious person is a religious belief.... Plaintiff's desire to protect her child from what she believes will cause her harm is undeniable, but it does not justify a religious exemption.....
The Staten Island Advance reports on the decision.