House Rejects Senate-Approved Religious Exemption For Vaccinations

May 8, 2019

The Maine House has rejected a Senate-passed religious exemption to the requirement that all Maine schoolchildren be vaccinated. The measure now goes back to the Senate.

Maine is currently among 17 states that allow parents to opt their children out of school-required vaccinations for medical, religious and philosophical reasons. The bill passed by the House would allow an exemption only for medical reasons, but the Senate’s bill would allow an additional exemption on religious grounds.

Democratic state Rep. Ryan Fecteau of Biddeford says he does not believe a religious exemption to the state’s vaccination laws makes sense.

“The exemption itself suggests that’s an issue in conflict with religion, as if these two things stand at opposite ends of the Earth. Nothing could be further from the truth,” he says.

The House’s Tuesday vote means the Senate will vote again on the issue.

Supporters of the medical-only proposal worry that if the Senate does not change its vote, the current law will continue, which public health experts warn could lead to the spread of diseases like measles.

Originally published May 7, 2019 at 4:07 p.m. ET