A controversial vaccine bill in front of California lawmakers had parents all over California, including some in San Diego, talking about whether the government should be telling them what's best for their kids.
As the state Senate Health Committee held its first public hearing for Senate Bill 277 in Sacramento Wednesday, local protesters gathered in front of the downtown state building to rally against the measure, which would make California's vaccination rules among the strictest in the nation.
"Everybody’s rights shouldn’t be taken away,” said Maria Ewell. “It's up to how you feel, your religious beliefs, your kid’s immune system.”
SB 277 would repeal the state’s personal belief exemption, meaning only children who have been immunized for diseases like measles and whooping cough can be admitted to public schools unless underlying medical conditions prevent it.
Holding their children and signs reading “Our Rights Are in Danger” and “Choice is a Right,” dozens of passionate parents spoke out against the bill.
Parent Maria Rivera blames vaccines for some children’s health problems.
"They can't function, and you go to your doctor’s and they tell you it’s not the vaccine, it’s no relationship,” said Rivera, “but they were fine just a moment ago.”
In Sacramento, groups held a similar protest with Robert Kennedy Jr., who calls America's vaccination schedules a Holocaust.
California's recent measles outbreak heightened the debate about what to do with people who choose not to vaccinate themselves or their children.
Supporters of the bill say when personal freedom encroaches on public safety, lawmakers must step in. Many feel California's personal philosophy exemption is too loose and makes it too easy for parents to skip vaccines without a documented medical waiver.
Some took to Twitter to defend the bill.
The vaccination bill cleared the Senate Health Committee Wednesday, but more committees must give it their OK before it moves on to a full Senate vote.