Parents Sue After New York Nixes Religious Vaccine Exemption

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., speaks against legislation to narrow exemption to state mandated vaccines during a rally at the state Capitol in May, 2019, in Albany, N.Y. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink/File)

A group of parents is suing New York state in an effort to reinstate a religious exemption to vaccine mandates.

The plaintiffs, represented by attorneys including Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., argue that state lawmakers violated the religious rights of parents when they repealed the exemption last month in the face of the nation’s worst measles outbreak in decades.

Kennedy joined several parents at a courthouse in Albany Wednesday when the lawsuit was filed. Fifty-five families have signed on as plaintiffs.

Critics of the old exemption say religious beliefs shouldn’t outweigh overwhelming scientific evidence showing vaccines work to protect individuals and communities from disease.

Five states have no religious exemption. The Supreme Court ruled in 1905 that states have the right to enforce compulsory vaccination rules.