Thousands of protesters surrounded the State House in Trenton on Monday ahead of votes by the New Jersey Assembly and Senate on legislation that would repeal religious exemptions for vaccines.
Supporters of the bill say the measure is necessary to keep children safe and have criticized the “misinformation and hysteria swirling” around the bill. If the proposed legislation becomes law, New Jersey would join five other states, including California and New York, that have done away with religious exemptions for vaccines.
Opponents of the legislation crowded the statehouse grounds with flags and banners with slogans like “My Child, My Choice.” Protesters also chanted the Lord’s Prayer over and over. The opponents argue that the legislation infringes on their religious freedom and their rights as parents to decide what’s best for their children.
About 14,000 New Jersey students have a religious exemption for vaccines. Every state requires some vaccines for students, but the exemptions vary by state. Forty-five states and the District of Columbia allow for religious exemptions.
The Democrat-controlled Assembly and Senate are slated to vote on the legislation during a marathon session Monday. More than 100 bills will be considered ahead of the new legislative session, which begins Tuesday.
Citizen journalist Scott Miller of Exit 7A Creative Services and Studios was on the scene covering the protests Monday and provided the photos and video clip for this story.