Friday, May 22, 2015

          Professor Dorit Rubinstein Reiss Assists State Lawmakers With Pro-Vaccine Legislation

          The bill would disallow the “personal belief exemption” from vaccines.
          Sample alt tag.

          A bill called SB 277 has been wending its way through the California state legal system over the past few months, concerning one of the most curiously polarizing issues of our time, and a young, energetic professor has been helping to shape it.

          Doing so puts her in an uncomfortable spotlight, but she is tenacious and bold enough to withstand the pressure.

          The bill would disallow the “personal belief exemption” from vaccines, so that only parents whose children receive a medical exemption will be able to opt out of the vaccine schedule required for attendance at public schools. It doesn’t seem like such a far-fetched idea, but Professor Reiss has been roundly castigated by anti-vaccine activists and those who claim to be pro-vaccine but anti-government-intervention.

          “The anti-vaccine people like to assume that anyone who speaks up for vaccines is a pharma shill,” she said, referring to the idea that pharmaceutical corporations pay people to defend vaccinations in the press because they are such a financial juggernaut (although a simple scan of pharmaceutical companies’ earnings reports reveals that the profits from vaccines are a slim portion of their overall gains). “If you Google my name and vaccines, you’ll see articles claiming I’m a shill … so there’s a bit of pushback.”

          “But,” she adds, “there have also been a lot of amazing, caring, knowledgeable people who have been devoting their time speaking up for children’s health,” she added. “This is something important. There’s nothing more worthy than fighting for children’s health.”

          Though she is not an author of the bill, she has advised its authors on legal points, and now spends much of her free time advocating for vaccines via blogs, conferences and social media, correcting misconceptions about the legal issues around this and other legislation, such as SB 792, which would require teachers and daycare workers to be fully immunized. SB 277 has passed the California senate with bipartisan support, and SB 792 will be voted on next week. The next step for both bills is the California State Assembly. Because of widespread support, it is likely that they will both be signed into law in early 2016.

          Professor Reiss has a four year old and is pregnant with her second child, which is how she first came to this issue. She spoke of the very real risks imposed on the general public by those who choose not to vaccinate. “This isn’t about families making independent choices, this is about a misguided minority forcing a risk upon other children, their newborn siblings, the other members of their families.”

          For those who complain the elimination of personal belief exemptions takes away personal freedom, she points out that “we don’t allow people to drink and drive even though, theoretically, it’s your body and you can do what you want. You cannot force a risk on others.” In addition, she says, “To be clear, the bill is not forcing anyone to vaccinate. It’s just that parents who choose not to vaccinate will have limits on where they can send their children to school.”

          Even with all her passion and determination, she feels for the parents who have been led to believe that vaccines caused their children to be autistic or disabled. “For people who experience this belief, of course the betrayal feels awful,” she says. “You think you’re doing something to protect your child, and you honestly believe this has led to an injury, of course they are going to have this anger and guilt. They really are hurting, but they are also still causing a dangerous situation,” she said.

          And that’s not something she can stand for.

          Go to News Archive

          Share this Story

          Share via Facebook
          Share via TwitterShare via EmailPrint Friendly Version

          Other Recent Stories/ RSS

          Friday, May 18, 2018

          UC Hastings Students Speak at UN Human Rights Council in Geneva

          Members of the Hastings Human Rights and International Law Organization attended the 37th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council to meet diplomats, engage in discussions on human rights issues, and deliver advocacy statements during proceedings.
          Wednesday, May 09, 2018

          Joseph W. Cotchett, Champion for Justice and Titan of the Plaintiffs Bar, is UC Hastings Law's 2018 Commencement Speaker

          Litigation Trial Lawyers Hall of Famer and UC Hastings Alumnus, Class of 1964, to keynote the College’s 137th Commencement
          Friday, May 04, 2018

          Blek le Rat, “The Godfather” of Stencil Graffiti, Contributes Installation at UC Hastings

          The innovative street artist is taking to the streets with works throughout San Francisco to promote a rare North American exhibition.
          Friday, May 04, 2018

          UC Hastings Professor Veena Dubal’s Work Plays Role in California Supreme Court Ruling

          “The Dynamex Decision” creates a major change in the landscape for California’s gig economy and follows the path of Professor Dubal’s analysis from her scholarly work.
          Wednesday, May 02, 2018

          Thinkers & Doers: April 2018

          Professor Dubal cited in the California Supreme Court’s Dynamex decision – Professor Aviram discusses “Sanctuary City” litigation outside the Ninth Circuit – Ellen DeGeneres asks Kamala Harris about 2020 presidential aspirations – How Asylum Works and Doesn’t Work – Professor Ball earns national recognition with 2018 Shanara Gilbert Award – Highlights from the Spring Soirée – and much more
          Go to News Archive