Yes you read that right. Senator Yen's bill has passed the HHS committee 7-4. Don't lose hope, the bill was changed and still has a long way to go until it would be a law. Here is what happened today.
This morning, about 3 hours prior to the HHS committee, Senator Yen added SB 83 to the agenda as well as introduced an amendment to his bill that, instead of taking away exemption rights, would add levels of government bureaucracy before parents could exercise their exemption rights. Here is the amended language. Yens amendment would require parents to watch a video of "information regarding the risks of not vaccinating their child on a website maintained by the State Department of Health". Then parents would be required to submit a notarized document attesting that they have viewed the information required. Senator Yen gave Oklahoma parents a three hour notice that he intended to strip their parental and religious rights. We believe that this severely compromises the integrity of the Oklahoma Senate.
After the amendment was introduced, Senator Silk added an amendment that took away the notary requirement, as well as required the video present the risks involved with vaccinating your child. This amendment passed. The wording for this amendment is not yet available, but it will be accessible here.
Senator Griffin then added an amendment that required parents be given the CDC Vaccine Excipient & Media Summary. This is a two page document that we believe should be made available to parents prior to vaccination. It lists all ingredients that are used in the production of vaccines. Presenting this information could lead to a decrease in the amount of vaccine injuries by making parents aware of potential allergens used in the manufacturing process of the vaccine. You can find the document here. This amendment also passed. Again, this amendment is not yet available online, but should be available soon here.
A third amendment was added from Senator Pittman that specified that parents of multiple children would not have to review the video multiple times. This amendment passed and should be available to read here soon.
After a lengthy Q&A and debate, the amended bill passed the HHS committee with a vote of 7-4. Senators David, Pugh, Griffin and Simpson were the senators who ultimately stood their ground for parental rights. (Senator Silk was required to step out for a moment, and was unfortunately unable to vote.) You can see the votes here.
Even with the amendments, we believe that this bill is an infringement on parental rights. Informing parents of the risks and benefits of vaccination is the job of their chosen care provider and NOT the job of the government. As Senator Silk eloquently put it, "What we’re doing is burdening Oklahoma parents. If they don’t agree with vaccinations we are now putting another layer of bureaucracy for them to exercise that freedom”.
During the debate, Senator Pugh raised concerns over postcards that have been distributed to members of the senate and Senator Yen's constituents. Oklahomans for Vaccine and Health Choice-PAC wants to clarify that we have no responsibility for the political art depicting Senator Yen as a Communist dictator. We did NOT create, nor do we endorse that image. We include our logo in every publication our PAC creates.
In addition, we did NOT include any images of Senator Yen's family in our recent campaign to inform his constituents about SB 83, which removes the religious vaccine exemption. We don't believe in bringing innocent children into the middle of a political debate. This is why you will not find any mention of Senator Yen's family in the attached flyer that was provided to members of 25 churches in his district. The decision was made to pass out the flyers at churches because we wanted the constituents affected most directly by the loss of religious liberties to be aware of the bill.
We believe in respecting our public servants, but we will also hold them accountable. Read our full statement here.
SB 83 has only passed the HHS committee and is NOT law yet. It still has quite a few steps to go through. Please make sure you are connected with us by clicking "Become An OVHC Member" and filling out our form. In the next few days we will be releasing some talking points and action alerts on what to do next. We must not sit idly by as our rights are stripped away from us.
To watch the full debate on SB 83 please click here. Thank you member Bryan Mayberry for capturing this video for us!
On the flip side, another bill we oppose SB 747, which would have made some types of home birth illegal, failed in committee. We are proud to have opposed this bill that was an obvious infringement on parental rights.
Please join us Wednesday, at 3:30 PM in room 206 for the house appropriations committee where HB 1386 will be heard. This is a bill for informed consent that we are supporting.