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Support HB 1347
Adding a Conscientious Exemption for Immunization in Texas

USE YOUR VOICE FOR VACCINE CHOICE BEFORE APRIL 7, 1999!

Texas immunization exemption laws are too strict and don't respect basic parental rights. The Mexico border and Texas are surrounded by other states that respect that parents should be able to delay or decline an immunization for reasons of conscience.

Texas health agencies continue to propagate and promulgate a "one size fits all" immunization policy with a lack of reverence for individual needs and beliefs. Concern over legal requirements for submission to immunization without the right to say "no" for reasons of conscience is compounded by the fact that vaccines can sometimes cause permanent injury or even death. The Federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has paid out nearly 1 billion dollars in damages to families for injuries and deaths caused by the core set of mandated vaccines.

Currently, 33 doses of vaccines for 9 different viral and bacterial illnesses are legally forced into Texas children by the time they are 5 years old. Many more are on the horizon including vaccines for chicken pox, diarrhea, strep throat, ear infections, and sexually transmitted diseases like Herpes and AIDS. Parents in Texas do not have the right to determine WHEN vaccines are given to their child, or IF they are given at all. It is time for that to change.

HB 1347 expands the vaccine exemption laws to guarantee the right of a parent to delay or decline an immunization for reasons of conscience. Parents are capable of making informed decisions about the health care of their children and must not be placed in a position in which exercising a conscientious objection to the administration of a vaccine means breaking the law.

If a vaccine made from portions of the AIDS virus is ever mandated in Texas, who wouldn't want the legal right to say "no" for their own child?

PLEASE TAKE ACTION NOW.
1) Call and fax letters to all Texas House Public Health Committee Members Immediately!!!
2) Call and Write your own State Representative and Senator Immediately
3) Attend the House Public Health Committee Hearing Wednesday April 7, 1999, 1:30 p.m. in the Texas Capitol Extension in room E2 030
4) Fax or email a copy of your letter of support for HB 1347 to the bill author, Representative Rick Green

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1.) Call AND FAX ALL the House Public Health Committee Members

CALL each office and ask to speak with the legislative aid handling immunization bills. Introduce yourself, where you are calling from, and say something like, "Please ask Representative _________ to support HB 1347, authored by Representatives Green, McClendon, Burnam, and Hupp and co-authored by Representatives Janek and Howard. HB 1347 expands the immunization exemption laws to guarantee the right of a parent to delay or decline an immunization for reasons of conscience. Current Texas immunization laws are too strict and don't respect parental rights."

Rep. Patricia Gray - Chair, Phone: (512) 463-0588, Fax: (512) 478-1887, patricia.gray@house.state.tx.us
Rep. Garnet Coleman - Vice Chair, Phone: (512) 463-0524, Fax: (512) 463-1260, garnet.coleman@house.state.tx.us
Rep. Jaime Capelo, Phone: (512) 463-0462, Fax: (512) 463-9545, jaime.capelo@house.state.tx.us
Rep. Dianne White Delisi, Phone: (512) 463-0630, Fax: (512) 463-0937, dianne.delisi@house.state.tx.us
Rep. Bob Glaze, Phone: (512) 463-0580, Fax: (512) 463-9954, bob.glaze@house.state.tx.us
Rep. Harvey Hilderbran, Phone: (512) 463-0536, Fax: (512) 463-1449, harvey.hilderbran@house.state.tx.us
Rep. Glen Maxey, Phone: (512) 463-0552, Fax: (512) 463-5896, glen.maxey@house.state.tx.us
Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon*, Phone: (512) 463-0708, Fax: (512) 463-7071, ruth.mcclendon@house.state.tx.us
Rep. Carlos Uresti, Phone: (512) 463-0714, Fax: (512) 463-1448, carlos.uresti@house.state.tx.us

(*Note that Rep. McClendon just signed on as a joint author, so call and fax her office to thank her - she needs to hear the support for this too!)

FAX each office a letter also. Only email if you can't fax. A fax has a much greater impact. Email notes are often reviewed much later than faxes. The only way the committee members will know that parents want this change is if we let them know!

SAMPLE LETTER

[YOUR NAME AND ADDRESS]
[DATE]

The Honorable [REPRESENTATIVE'S NAME]
Box 2910
Austin, TX 78768-2910

Subject: Support HB 1347 - A Conscientious Exemption for Immunization

Dear Representative [REPRESENTATIVE'S NAME],

Please support HB 1347, authored by Representatives Green, McClendon, Burnam, and Hupp and co-authored by Representatives Janek and Howard, which is scheduled to be heard by the House Public Health Committee on Wednesday, April 7th. HB 1347 expands the vaccine exemption laws to guarantee the right of a parent to delay or decline an immunization for reasons of conscience. Current Texas immunization laws are too strict and don't respect parental rights.

There are many valid reasons why a parent may want to delay or not give an immunization.

[PERSONALIZE THIS LETTER WITH SOME OF YOUR REASONS AND SPECIFIC CONCERNS. ADD ANY PERSONAL TESTIMONY HOW A MANDATED VACCINE MAY HAVE HURT SOMEONE YOU KNOW. TALK ABOUT ANY INTIMIDATION OR COERCION YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED AND HOW IT HAS AFFECTED YOU OR YOUR CHILD. REMEMBER, THIS IS YOUR CHANCE TO EDUCATE YOUR LAWMAKERS!]

Parents are capable of making informed decisions about the health care of their children and must not be placed in a position in which exercising a conscientious objection to the administration of a vaccine means breaking the law. Please leave the ultimate decision where it should be, in the hands of the parents. It will be the parents and children who live with the consequences of a health problem precipitated by a vaccine, not the state.

Sincerely,
[YOUR NAME]

2.) Call AND WRITE your state representative and senator AND ASK FOR THEIR SUPPORT TOO - Capitol switchboard: 512-463-4630.

If you don't know who your state legislators are, you can call your county voter registration office or link to
http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/fyi/fyi.htm

CALL your Representative and Senator's office an ask to speak with the legislative aid handling immunization bills. Introduce yourself, where you are calling from, IDENTIFY YOURSELF AS A CONSTITUENT, and say something like, "Please ask Representative/Senator _________ to support HB 1347, authored by Representatives Green, McClendon, Burnam, and Hupp and co-authored by Representatives Janek and Howard. HB 1347 expands the immunization exemption laws to guarantee the right of a parent to delay or decline an immunization for reasons of conscience. Current Texas immunization laws are too strict and don't respect parental rights. I would like to be able to count on MY Representative/Senator for support in this issue that is very important to my family."

To Write State Representatives:

Box 2910
Austin, TX 78768-2910
House Fax: (512) 463-5896
Email: first.last@house.state.tx.us

To Write State Senators:

Box 12068
Austin, TX 78711-2068
Senate Fax: (512) 463-0326
Email: first.last@senate.state.tx.us

SAMPLE LETTER

[YOUR NAME AND ADDRESS]
[DATE]

[YOUR REPRESENTATIVE'S OR SENATOR'S NAME AND ADDRESS]

Subject: Support HB 1347 - A Conscientious Exemption for Immunization

Dear [YOUR REPRESENTATIVE'S OR SENATOR'S NAME],

As a constituent, I am writing to urge you to support HB 1347, authored by Representatives Green, McClendon, Burnam, and Hupp and co-authored by Representatives Janek and Howard which is scheduled to be heard by the House Public Health Committee on Wednesday, April 7th. HB 1347 expands the vaccine exemption laws to guarantee the right of a parent to delay or decline an immunization for reasons of conscience. Current Texas immunization laws are too strict and don't respect parental rights.

There are many valid reasons why a parent may want to delay or not give an immunization.

[PERSONALIZE THIS LETTER WITH SOME OF YOUR REASONS AND SPECIFIC CONCERNS. ADD ANY PERSONAL TESTIMONY HOW A MANDATED VACCINE MAY HAVE HURT SOMEONE YOU KNOW. TALK ABOUT ANY INTIMIDATION OR COERCION YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED AND HOW IT HAS AFFECTED YOU OR YOUR CHILD. REMEMBER, THIS IS YOUR CHANCE TO EDUCATE YOUR LAWMAKERS!]

Parents are capable of making informed decisions about the health care of their children and must not be placed in a position in which exercising a conscientious objection to the administration of a vaccine means breaking the law. Please leave the ultimate decision where it should be, in the hands of the parents. It will be the parents and children who live with the consequences of a health problem precipitated by a vaccine, not the state.

Sincerely,
[YOUR NAME]

3.) Attend the HOUSE PUBLIC HEALTH COMMITTEE HEARING on Wednesday April 7, 1999, 1:30 pM in the Texas Capitol Extension in room E2.030.

The Public Health Committee members will be listening to testimony on HB 1347. Then they will decide if they will vote the bill out of committee or not. We want the room to be packed with well-dressed families who have filled out a witness card in support of this bill. We have strategized and arranged for some compelling oral testimony that has never been presented before, but we need the support of your presence!

Representative Green has reserved a conference room for us so we can distribute name tags to parents and talk about the hearing. Please go to E2.024 in the Capitol Extension Building between 12:00 noon and 12:30 p.m. This room will be available during the hearing until 3:00 in case families with children need a place to rest, stretch legs, change a diaper, etc.

From IH-35 in Austin, take the 15th Street Exit heading west toward the Capitol. A visitor parking garage with free parking is at 15th street and San Jacinto Street. A map of the Capitol grounds and regular and handicapped visitor parking information can be seen at http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/capevent/capitol/cappark.htm. Bring some good walking shoes. You can always park a few blocks east of the visitor parking garage at the Erwin Center (a local coliseum) . Parking meters are on all the side streets, but since we don't know how long the hearing will be, meters are not advisable or convenient.

4) FAX OR EMAIL A COPY OF YOUR LETTER OF SUPPORT TO REPRESENTATIVE GREEN's (BILL AUTHOR) LEGISLATIVE ASSISTANT KIMBERLY KYLE AT (512) 463-8184 or kimberly.kyle@house.state.tx.us.

Please copy and forward this notice to other Texas families. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Dawn Richardson
President, PROVE

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