Big win for parental rights as vaccine bill dies on last day of CA legislative session

By Valerie Schmalz

On the last day of the legislative session a hard-fought effort paid off, and legislation died that sought to remove parent and guardian involvement in the vaccination of children.

State Sen. Scott Wiener, the sponsor of legislation to give minors 15 and older the right to be vaccinated without parental permission, announced on Twitter that SB 866 remained several votes short of the 41 votes needed to pass in the California Assembly. The state Senate had approved it 21-8 in May.

Wiener announced that he placed SB 866 in the inactive file. August 31 was the final day of the two-year legislative session. The legislation, in its amended form, would have allowed minors 15 and older to decide whether to be vaccinated. The bill as originally written by Wiener would have let minors 12 and older make the decision.

Wiener said he would continue to pursue the effort. A new legislature convenes in early 2023.

In opposing SB 866, the California Catholic Conference said the bill posed “a great risk to the health of children.”

“The Catholic community in California supports vaccination requirements for all children,” but said its opposition was to the elimination of parental rights and the potential health risk to children who are not fully equipped to make such a serious medical decision. Further, the public policy arm of the state’s bishops noted in an action alert opposing the bill, “If parents are not aware that their children have been vaccinated, treatment of a serious adverse reaction may be delayed and the child’s life endangered.”

“Vaccination is a significant part of a person’s preventative medical care, the CCC noted. “The application of any vaccine has contraindications, and each vaccine has the possibility of side effects. Parents are supplied with federal Centers for Disease Control-provided information about each vaccine as part of their consent, while SB 866 had no such requirement for minors.”

“It is also of great concern that children could consent to vaccinations offered to them with inappropriate incentives. In the past two years in California, COVID-19 vaccines have been accompanied by gift cards, cash, and other incentives that could easily prey upon a child’s imagination and encourage a significant health decision based on an uninformed decision,” the California Catholic Conference said in urging Catholics to contact their legislators to vote no.

Wiener, D- District 11, represents the city and county of San Francisco, Colma, Daly City and parts of South San Francisco.

Valerie Schmalz is the Director of the Office of Human Life & Dignity for the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

Lea en Español