How This NY Mom Made the Case for Her Son’s Religious Vaccine Exemption

By Heather Callaghan

An unidentified, Russian immigrant mother who practices the Russian Orthodox faith, has secured a religious vaccine exemption for her autistic son. New York has a bill on the table to eliminate religious exemption and to root out those who weren’t refusing vaccines on strictly devout, religious grounds. Yet, this woman’s plight goes back before talk of eliminating the exemption – two years to be exact.

From the personal accounts I frequently read, this process appears to be increasing in difficulty. No less so for this pro-choice mother who tenaciously fought for the exemption on the grounds of a sincerely and deeply held religious belief against abortion and, therefore, against the use of vaccines which are manufactured with cloned cell lines from aborted fetuses. The law still barely provides for the exemption, but it must be documented and “heartfelt.”


The woman filed for an MMR exemption for her son during the summer and fall of 2013, but the Department of Education rejected it saying they didn’t believe in her sincerity. They made a strange claim that the Russian Orthodox Church hadn’t been very vocal in a stance against vaccination. She filed an appeal and argued her reasons.

New York Post has found:

Education Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia sided with the parent and granted the student exemption in an Aug. 3 ruling.

“Her opposition to the MMR vaccine stems from sincerely held religious beliefs. …Furthermore, petitioner produced information relative to specific ingredients … which appears to provide the linkage between vaccines and aborted fetal tissue,” Elia said.

That was no small fight and no small feat. The mother had to audition her beliefs and had said that “abortion is clearly considered a mortal sin and is [an] abhorrent act to any Christian.”

She had said:

The vaccine manufacturers’ use of aborted fetal cells in its products and research means that I cannot associate with them or support them financially (by buying their products), for such support would make me complicit to their sin and answerable to God for this violation.

This writer doesn’t believe in exemptions – hear me out – because the right to one’s body and medical choice is always non-negotiable. Regardless of any belief – or none. We will continue to hear stories like the above and salute in triumph but as soon as those last exemptions are legislated out, the door will close on any type of refusal even as hundreds of vaccines begin to surface the market.

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz is about to chomp down on that last thread of exemption in New York with his new bill, difficult as the exemption already is to secure. He says parents who choose not to vaccinate are being “stupid” and “selfish.”

Exemptions are loopholes that say you’re going outside the law…for now. They are not rights – loopholes are always meant to be closed. They will always be crimped off at a later time when people have acclimated to the “chisel effect,” which is why it is a big deal when the last threads of your rights are on the chopping block. I don’t believe in trite answers like “just homeschool” or “just move” because 1) that’s only a temporary fix to the national loss of rights and 2) you have a right to seek medical services where you are and a recognized right to attend public school. Real rights are way easier to lose than to get them back – it will take the adamant demands of millions with the tenacity of the mother above.

Heather Callaghan is a natural health blogger and food freedom activist. You can see her work at NaturalBlaze.com and ActivistPost.com. Like at Facebook. Recent posts by Heather Callaghan


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