OP-ED | Maintaining the rights to education and exercise of religion

March 16, 2020

There are times I have to remind myself that we are all adults in the Legislative Office Building, because lately it doesn’t seem to be so.  

The debate over HB 5044:  AN ACT CONCERNING IMMUNIZATIONS is bringing out the worst from its proponents, who are resorting to using hate speech to denigrate the opposing side—concerned Connecticut parents—rather than listening to their testimonies and investigating their claims and concerns. 

We’ve heard allegations that the 4,000 people who showed up at the Capitol to attend the public hearing on HB 5044 are working for the Russians.  We’ve heard our spokesperson for the Department of Public Health refer to these people—who testified for 22 straight hours, primarily against HB 5044, at the public hearing—as “the American Taliban.”  We constantly hear these families referred to as “anti-vaxxers.”  Please stop.  Words have power.  Hate speech has power.  You are using hate speech to maliciously disparage the thousands of families who are legitimately opposed to government overreach, and who are doing what we should all be doing – fighting to protect freedom and democracy, not just for ourselves, but for everyone.  We aren’t “anti-vaxxers.”  We are parents.  We are doctors, firemen, lawyers, teachers, truck drivers, shopkeepers and legislators.  In fact, many of us are “vaxxers,” who nonetheless support your right to informed consent and your right to make significant medical decisions for your child.  Many of us are “former vaxxers,” who watched as our children’s health degenerated with each dose.  We have every right to question the legitimacy of mandating 69 doses of 16 different, liability-free vaccines (with 200 more in the pipeline) for ourselves and our children.  We have every right to follow our consciences when it comes to making informed vaccine choices.  Your attacks are specious and uncalled for. 

Rather than doing the work of actually investigating the credible safety concerns regarding vaccines and correcting the flawed DPH data on which HB 5044 was based, the media and politicians use bumper-sticker catch phrases – “safe and effective,” “the science is settled,” ”there is no link between vaccines and autism,” etc.  Could it be that after decades of Big Pharma spending billions of dollars every year in direct consumer advertising, people’s minds have been made up for them?  That Big Pharma has so influenced public opinion and poisoned the debate? 

I am one of the Democrats in the Connecticut State Legislature willing to take a stand with families fighting against government overreach.  I stand with families against a nationwide push by Big Pharma to eliminate religious exemptions.  Whether you agree or not, respect for the religious beliefs of all citizens should be afforded.  Many of us have served our country in the armed forces to preserve and defend the very rights that HB 5044 seeks to take away.  For that we are called the “American Taliban” by a public employee?  Really?  We are Americans who love our country and are willing to stand up in defense of our and your constitutionally-protected rights to practice our religions, to provide our children with an education, and to shield them from a pharmaceutical industry that is destroying our nation’s health.  This is Connecticut, the Constitution State, and we fight to preserve our rights.  That’s what Americans do.  Why are reporters and politicians alike taking up the slings and arrows of hate speech against us?   

The allegations from colleagues that “dark money” is funding the thousands of mothers fighting to preserve religious freedom to protect their children is a sad, desperate attempt to discredit the brave segment of citizens who care about preserving state and federal constitutionally protected rights.  The money is coming from vaccine-injured families.  The money is coming from parents and grandparents. 

Did any of you hear any of the historic 22-hour public hearing testimony?  Where is your empathy?  

How is it that Democrats—members of the party that’s supposed to represent and defend the rights of the little guy – are carrying the water for Big Pharma?  Anyone?   How can the party of NARAL Pro-Choice America do a 180 and seek to take away those very same rights of choice once a child is born?  How are the Democrats OK with depriving children of their constitutional right to an education?  How does that make any sense? 

We have a major medical crisis within today’s young population that is being completely ignored.  According to the CDC website, 1 in 59 children were diagnosed with autism in 2014, compared to 1 in 150 in 2000 and 1 in 10,000 in the 1980’s.  Back when I was a child, autism was unheard of.  Nobody was medicated to the extent they are today.  There were no deadly food allergies.  Kids were healthy.  If they got sick, they stayed home until they got better.  Common childhood illnesses were accepted and welcomed so as to gain lifelong, permanent immunity.  Today, we have a multi billion-dollar pharmaceutical industry that has injected itself into the equation of health care, and it’s causing mayhem. Kids are sicker than ever before, kids have more allergies than ever before, and kids are on more medications than ever before. 

During the Public Health Committee Public Hearing on February 19, I asked DPH Commissioner Renee D. Coleman-Mitchell what was being done to find out why children are so sick.  Her answer was a shrug of the shoulders.  “We don’t know why there are so many kids with autism,” she told us.  Why not?  

As unbridled corporate greed poisons the air we breathe and pollutes our oceans, it is doing the same to our children--injecting them with heavy metals and a laundry list of toxins that have no business inside our bodies.  

And vaccine mandates aren’t just for children any more - HB 5044 applies to adults attending college classes just as it applies to children in private pre-schools.  Vaccine mandates will likely be increasing for adults as it becomes clear we can’t have the fabled “herd immunity” unless adults are vaccinated and revaccinated as well.  The Pharmaceutical industry seeks cradle to grave customers.

I am not an “anti-vaxxer.”  I only seek to be informed and do what I believe is right.  I grew up in the 1960’s, and if there was one thing I learned back then, it was to question authority, rather than to blindly trust the government.   If we would just open our eyes to see and our ears to hear, we could stop enabling the criminal pharmaceutical corporations that brought us the devastation of Vioxx and Oxycontin. 

If HB 5044 does come to the floor of the House of Representatives, I will argue these points in detail, and I will encourage my fellow Democrats to vote no on     HB 5044 to stop this government overreach.

In the sixteen years during which I’ve had the honor to serve as a state representative from Bridgeport, I do believe this is the single most important vote I will ever make.  Whatever the outcome, I will be able to hold my head up and say I did my best for Connecticut’s future generations, and that I upheld my oath to protect and defend the Constitutions of Connecticut and the United States.