Anti-vaccine activists are sounding the alarm about a California bill that should trouble you even if you have nothing against immunization. The bill, S.B. 18, would codify the Bill of Rights for Children and Youth in California, a philosophically confused hodgepodge of false assertions and blatantly unrealistic aspirations that could be disastrous as a guide to policy.
The bill was introduced this month by Richard Pan, the pediatrician and state senator who sponsored the 2015 law that eliminated “personal belief” exemptions from state immunization requirements for children enrolled in school or day care. Critics of the new bill, who seem to consist largely of alternative medicine advocates, portray it as a threat to parental authority, gun rights, homeschooling, and health freedom. Snopes rejects those claims, noting that the critics have a grudge against Pan and that the bill does not give state officials any new authority to interfere with child rearing. Although Snopes is right on both points, Pan’s seemingly anodyne bill does reflect some creepy and insidious moral premises.