In a packed committee room at the New Jersey State House on Thursday, Senator Michael Testa (R-1) voted against legislation (S2173) eliminating the religious exemption for vaccinations. The Democrats in Trenton passed the measure with a vote of 6-4 along partisan lines.
Yet another example of our constitutional rights being eroded by big government that believes it always knows what’s best for regular people who aren’t capable of making choices for themselves. #WhatAreWeDoing #TestaInTrenton
Posted by Senator Michael Testa on Thursday, December 12, 2019
Below are Senator Testa’s remarks to the committee, as prepared for delivery:
Thank you, Chairman.
The volume of correspondence that I’ve received over the last few days in opposition to this proposal to eliminate the religious exemption for otherwise mandatory vaccinations has been tremendous, to say the least.
It’s really quite impressive, especially considering I was only sworn into office last week and don’t even have a phone number set up yet.
Still, people are finding a way to reach me, because they’re passionate about this issue, and I understand why.
It’s yet another example of our constitutional rights being eroded by big government that believes it always knows what’s best for regular people who aren’t capable of making choices for themselves.
The original version of this bill, which would force those claiming the exemption to submit notarized statements of their personal religious beliefs to agents of the government, is absolutely outrageous.
It’s a direct attack on the First Amendment rights of New Jerseyans to freely exercise their religion as they see fit, free from government interference or discrimination.
The amended version of the legislation, which eliminates the religious exemption completely, is just as bad.
It sends the message that our constitutionally guaranteed religious freedoms and civil liberties mean nothing to lawmakers or the State of New Jersey.
It flies in the face of the basic tenets a citizen’s Constitutional right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
I have other concerns as well.
As a defense attorney, I know that the government can’t pierce your skin with a needle and draw blood without a warrant.
This legislation tells parents that they have no choice in whether their children will have their skin pierced by a needle, and something injected into them, despite their objections.
That just seems wrong. Parents shouldn’t have fewer rights than suspected criminals and criminal defendants.
I understand the good intentions of the sponsors, but I believe this legislation goes too far. It’s an unnecessary restriction of parental rights and a further erosion of our religious freedoms.
Given those concerns, and others, I do not believe this proposal should be advanced by this committee. I will vote “NO.”