A grassroots movement to kill a new law requiring California schoolchildren to be fully inoculated against 10 commonly targeted diseases — and “any other disease deemed appropriate” — is gaining momentum in Santa Barbara County. So far, about 50 volunteers have completed regional “petition training,” according to Tracy Roberts, a Facebook page administrator for SB 277 Referendum Santa Barbara. The group is part of the statewide effort to gather voter signatures against SB 277, which Governor Jerry Brown signed on June 30.
Starting next year, the law gets rid of the so-called personal-belief exemption that allows parents to opt out of vaccinating their child, but only after they’ve been properly consulted by a medical professional. Medical exemptions will still be allowed. According to the language, the law applies to “private or public elementary or secondary school, childcare center, day nursery, nursery school, family-daycare home, or development center.” Homeschooling will not be affected.
“The referendum [puts] this issue on the ballot for voters to decide,” Roberts explained. “If we are going to take away a parent’s right to informed consent to medical decisions for their child and coerce a parent to choose between their child’s schooling and a strongly held religious or personal belief, then it should at least be put to a vote by the people.” The referendum — spearheaded by former assemblymember Tim Donnelly, whose radio show broadcasts “from deep behind enemy lines in the occupied territory of the socialist republic of California” — needs approximately 367,000 valid signatures by September 25 to quality for the November 2016 ballot.
In related news, Senator Richard Pan, the pediatrician who carried SB 277, has been targeted for recall by a separate campaign seeking to gather about 36,000 signatures — by year’s end — from the more than 400,000 registered voters in Dr. Pan’s Sacramento district.