Four Republicans on the House Committee on Health Care are standing tall following their votes opposing the passage of HB 3063 in committee on Thursday, 14 March. The controversial bill, per its official summary, "Removes ability of parent to decline required immunizations on behalf of child for reason other than child's indicated medical diagnosis."
While that official summary, provided by Legislative Counsel, may aspire to some degree of neutrality, according to the four Republican dissenters and the large host of parents and medical practitioners who testified against it, the bill inflicts far greater damage on the social fabric of Oregon than simply confirming policy already in place in Oregon public school districts and most private schools.
Rep. Denyc Boles (R-Salem), in a press release issued following the committee vote, stated, "Testimony presented by the medical community requiring mandatory vaccines for all families during hearings was mixed, with agency public health experts supporting it and individual family practitioners, pediatricians, and parents pushing back on this sweeping legislation." In addition, she cited "thousands of emails and hundreds of calls opposing HB 3063", by far the most she has received this session on any single bill, including the infamous anti-gun SB 501.
She clarified that her opposition to the bill is not focused on vaccinations themselves — her children received the full complement of vaccines — but instead on the hubris that considers the State virtually all-powerful. "This legislation sets a dangerous precedent. One [by which] parents are coerced into medical procedures risk losing the right for their child to receive an education. By passing this policy, government is choosing to follow fear over freedom...." She went on to conclude, damning Democrats, "There appears to be an alarming trend in this legislative session. When goals aren't achieved through reason and persuasion the majority party reverts to coercion. Oregonians should be respected. Families should retain the right to make personal medical decisions and religious rights should be upheld."
The Oregon Citizens Lobby gave the bill eight thumbs down, stating the obvious, "This bill is a massive government overreach!" The analysis points out all of the individual doctrines it violates: "the [U.S.] Constitution, the U.N. human rights laws, the Nuremburg Code, the Hippocratic Oath [taken by] doctors, and a doctor[']s right to treat patients as [one sees] fit."
The analyst could also have cited Oregon's heritage of distrust of government. This distrust has literally been set in stone. As one crosses the Capitol Mall State Park from the General Services Building toward the Labor & Industries building at Chemeketa St. and Cottage St., one steps over two diamond-shaped stones embedded in the brick pathway that epitomize Oregon's founding spirit.
First up is a quote from David Logan, one of the founders of the Oregon Republican Party, representing the newly-formed Multnomah County at Oregon's Constitutional Convention in 1857. Even though he had been elected to the Territorial Legislature in 1854 and would later serve a term as the mayor of Portland, he did not hold government in very high esteem. Etched here is his statement, "The legislature shall meet only once in ten years and then solely for the purpose of repealing the laws passed at the previous session." Perhaps because the convention settled on biennial sessions, Logan ended up voting against adoption of the final version of Oregon's Constitution.
A few steps further along the path brings one to a quote attributed to Rev. Joeb Powell, serving as chaplain of the Territorial Legislature in the 1850s. As he offered the invocation prior to a session, he prayed that God would extend mercy to the legislators by invoking the words of Christ while on the cross: [Lord] forgive them for they know not what they do." A fitting tribute to the majority party in this 80th Legislative Assembly.