Anti-vaxxers suing New York state over religious exemption

Posted at 8:17 AM, Jul 11, 2019

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Fifty-five families across New York state are suing in an attempt to allow their children to attend school without being vaccinated, claiming religious exemption.

The lawsuit comes a month after the state passed a law that required all students to be vaccinated, regardless of religious beliefs. The law was a reaction to the number of measles cases skyrocketing this year across the country.

"I believe this is largely about active hostility towards religion. I do not believe it is about public health," said Michael S. Sussman, the attorney representing the families.

Sussman says 26,000 students across the state won't be allowed to attend school.

One mother from western New York, who did not wish to share her name or identity, is not part of the lawsuit but supports the families' efforts.

"I think (the state) thought that they had this completely finished and done. So, I'm actually very excited about (the lawsuit)," she said.

She's not going to change her mind about vaccines, so will not be any changes for her family.

"They're not allowed to go. They are not allowed to start in September. So, we will have to be homeschooled."

QueeNia AsheeMa'at'salready homeschools her son. But she says people who refuse vaccines because of religious beliefs are finding themselves in difficult situations.

"People right now, are not having their child in daycare because they had to pull their child out of daycare," AsheeMa'at said.

She believes this lawsuit has a strong case because of the first amendment.

"That's why we live here. That's why we love it here. That's why we won't move out of here," AsheeMa'at said.

The 55 families are also suing because the state did not hold any public hearings on the matter. A judge is expected to rule on a temporary stay on religious exemptions by the end of the week.