BEND, OR -- Opposition is growing louder to a bill that would ban non-medical vaccine exemptions for Oregon schoolchildren. Its chief sponsor is Republican Bend State Rep. Cheri Helt. Central Oregonians opposed to HB 3063 plan to rally at Bend's Drake Park on Saturday.
Event organizer Meghan Bristow says it's not a "pro-" or "anti-vax" issue. She believes it's about parents being free to make choices for their children's health, "They're taking medical exemptions away from our doctors and putting it in the hands of OHA [Oregon Health Authority]. That's scary to me as a parent. I had a child injured from vaccines and she doesn't qualify for a medical exemption under these circumstances. How do you mandate a liability-free product?" Bristow tells KBND News, "I want everybody to fight for the freedom of their children. I mean, this taking away the parent's right to choose for their own child. Regardless of what your vaccination status is, to me, it's not okay."
Saturday's rally begins at noon with a march through downtown Bend. They'll return to Drake Park for speeches, information and conversation. "I want free thinkers," says Bristow, "I'm not saying, 'you need to think this way,' or 'you need to think that way.' I want people to read the bill and think for themself and it's information on the bill, it's not just information opposing the bill. It's 'these are the things that could happen' if this passes." Simultaneous rallies are planned for Salem, Portland, Eugene, and Medford. Participants are asked to wear yellow to the event. Search "Oregon Protests for Medical Freedom" on Facebook for more information.
Bristow says if the bill passes, it would negatively affect thousands of Oregon kids, "The bill excludes over 30,000 children from school. That's huge. That's detrimental. That's going to change a community."
HB 3063 remains in the Joint Ways and Means Committee after clearing the House Healthcare Committee with a "do pass" recommendation.