Anti-vaccine protesters flock to California Capitol
California’s new law restricting medical exemptions for vaccines has a challenge from a group of protesters who want voters to overturn it.
Three women who protested the vaccine law, Senate Bill 276, at the Capitol this year on Wednesday submitted a petition for a referendum on it, according to an announcement from the Attorney General’s Office.
They submitted a separate petition for a referendum on Senate Bill 714, which is a companion law that Gov. Gavin Newsom requested to narrow the vaccine law.
The activists must gather 623,212 signatures from registered voters to qualify the referendum of the ballot, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.
If the measures qualify, voters would have a chance to strike down the laws.
Documents released by the Attorney General’s Office say the petition was submitted by Denise Aguilar, Heidi Munoz Gleisner and Tara Thornton. It was sent from a postal office near the Capitol.
Aguilar, Munoz Gleisner and Thornton protested the vaccine bill throughout August and September. They temporarily shut down an Aug. 30 Assembly Appropriations Committee hearing where they stood on chairs and chanted after lawmakers advanced the bill.
Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, wrote the vaccine bill to target what he called “unscrupulous” physicians who granted medical exemptions for mandatory vaccines for dubious reasons. The law lets the state Department of Public Health review doctors who grant medical exemptions for vaccines and schools with low vaccination rates.
Pan wrote a 2015 law, Senate Bill 277, that eliminated a personal belief exemption for parents who did not want their children to receive vaccines that mandatory in California schools.
“It is the right of any Californian to file a referendum against a law, however opponents failed in their referendum against SB 277, failed in recalling me in 2016, and failed in four lawsuits, which resulted in strong rulings by the Second and Third District courts of appeal upholding the constitutionality of SB 277,” Pan said.
Seven vaccine activists were arrested at the Capitol on Monday, when the Legislature passed the bill and Gov. Gavin Newsom signed it. Newsom agreed to it only after lawmakers crafted the companion law that narrowed liability for doctors.