Robert Kennedy Jr. joins vaccination choice advocates at Trenton Statehouse

 During a news conference at the New Jersey Statehouse Robert F. Kennedy Jr. voiced concerns about a bill that would tighten religious exemptions from required student vaccinations.(Phil Gregory/WHYY)

During a news conference at the New Jersey Statehouse Robert F. Kennedy Jr. voiced concerns about a bill that would tighten religious exemptions from required student vaccinations.(Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Junior joined vaccination choice advocates at the New Jersey Statehouse in voicing objections to a bill that would tighten requirements for religious exemptions for required school vaccinations.

The proposed legislation would require parents to provide proof that a child’s vaccination violates a specific tenant of their religion.

Kennedy says that’s a problem.

“I find that troubling that people are going to be questioned about their religious beliefs in order to obtain a state right. That has never happened in this country before.”

Kennedy says he believes vaccines have saved millions of lives, but he claims the regulators who approve new vaccines consider the potential profit for pharmaceutical companies more than protecting the public health.

Groups who oppose the tougher exemptions say the bill interferes with religious freedom and child rearing and believe it won’t stand up to a constitutional challenge.

Kennedy says that the press often portrays parents who object to vaccinations as “naturopaths and conspiracy theorists”. He says that the primary reasons most parents are hesitant to have their children vaccinated is mistrust of the regulators who approve vaccines.

“Virtually all of the ones that I know are parents who have a vaccine-damaged child”, says Kennedy.

Vaccination-choice advocates who joined Kennedy at a Statehouse news conference say the measure that would require them to cite a specific religious tenant to opt out of vaccinations would not withstand a constitutional challenge. They say the measure interferes with religious freedom and child-rearing.

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