How anti-vaccine activists defeated a bill to end religious exemptions

Senator Richard J. Codey, a Democrat and former governor of New Jersey, said his son received calls at his home. Francine Weinberg, daughter of one of the sponsors of the bill that lives in California, said she had to adjust the privacy settings of her Facebook page to end the series of commentator attacks.

“I call it the harassment policy,” said Weinberg, whose mother, Senator Loretta Weinberg, was the main sponsor of the legislation.

“And that’s really what it feels like,” Senator Weinberg added.

Among the radio personalities who opposed the bill were Bill Spadea, a Republican who supports President Trump and presents a morning show at one of New Jersey’s largest radio stations.

“This is what it looks like when new Jerseyans fight against government intrusion into our families,” he said. wrote on twitter, sharing a video of protesters outside the State House on Monday.

Avi Schnall, New Jersey director of Agudath Israel of America, a national umbrella organization of ultra-Orthodox Jews, said the group had decided to publicly oppose New Jersey legislation after lamenting that it had not done more to stop the measure in New York .

“We learned from our mistake,” he said in an interview last month.

Last spring, the organization had silently opposed the New York bill, but the context had been different: the debate took place during an outbreak centered on the Orthodox community.

As a group, Orthodox Jews, most of whom vaccinate their children, did not want to appear opposed to immunization. But the underlying principle of religious accommodation, the organization finally decided, was worth fighting, partly because there are rare cases in which a rabbi could decide that a vaccine was not justified.

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