Thus far, legal challenges to New York’s controversial repeal of the religious exemption to child vaccination requirements have not met with success. As Albany Update previously reported, one such lawsuit (Sullivan-Knapp v. Cuomo) was rejected by Judge Robert B. Wiggins on October 9, 2019. However, one Amish family in the Finger Lakes region recently filed a lawsuit to challenge the exemption repeal.
According to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the lawsuit was filed by Mr. Jonas Stoltzfus, a father of three children who attended an Amish-run private school called Cranberry Marsh School. The lawsuit contends that the school—which was attended only by Amish students—is in danger of closing because of the repeal. Stoltzfus sees the repeal as a form of religious persecution. Stoltzfus opposes immunizations “in part due to a belief [that] ‘God made his children “right and good” and to vaccinate his children is to lose faith in God.’” Furthermore, he asserts that “‘to rely on a manmade solution would be an act of disbelief in the power of our God to heal and protect us.’” The lawsuit argues that the repeal of the exemption violates the New York State Constitution.
New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms is not an anti-vaccine organization. We believe that vaccines—when created in an ethical manner that does not involve the destruction of human life—are generally healthy. However, we also believe that the repeal of the religious exemption to child vaccination requirements is a government overreach.