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Experiences at the interface of life, law, and motherhood in Cali

Letter to the Governor RE: SB277 Legal Concerns

The following is the text of the letter I sent to our Governor. I also sent a slightly altered copy to my local Assemblyman.

Dear Governor Brown,

I am writing to express some deeply held concerns I have regarding Senate Bill 277, which proposes to completely eliminate personal belief exceptions to mandatory immunization laws for California children.

First of all, as a parent of four children that vaccinates according to the currently recommended vaccination schedule, I find it confusing why the State Legislature would feel it necessary to legally impose vaccinations on families who have legitimate reasons to choose not to vaccinate. As an opponent of SB 277, I have had the occasion to get to know many of these families and their reasons. Typical reasons include:

  • demonstrated vaccine injury, resulting in children who need intensive and around the clock care, even as they grow into teenagers and adults;
  • religious reasons, including objections to the use of vaccines generally, objection to vaccination against sexually transmitted diseases (e.g. HepB & HPV), or more specifically relating to the contents of select vaccines;
  •  genetic pre-disposition to or de facto reaction based upon such genetic pre-disposition, such as the MTHFR gene;
  • selective vaccination, including the choice not to vaccinate against less prevalent diseases

These are not “fringe issues.”

The CDC website lists as a risk of the DTaP vaccination a 1 in 14,000 risk of seizure in a child. This is just one of the required vaccinations. There are an estimated 13,000 Kindergarteners who are currently exempted by means of a personal belief exemption. This means that the passage of SB 277 almost ensures that at least one of these children will suffer a seizure, statistically speaking. And I can’t help but ask, why?

AB 2109 added the informed consent requirement, such that parents who sought to secure a personal belief exemption, based not on religious reasons, had to schedule an appointment with a medical doctor, and review all the risks of choosing not to vaccinate. Only then would a waiver be granted.

Since AB 2109 became effective, the number of entering Kindergarteners alone using personal belief exemptions has decreased by a third. When I spoke with Senator Allen’s office, his aide informed me that they believed SB 277 was necessary, because the informed consent requirement had only demonstrated approximately a 20% decrease in personal belief exemptions, and then plateaud. They explicitly stated that this was based on data from Washington State. The California Department of Health has already published data that is contrary to this assertion of a stagnant decrease of 20%. We have already surpassed that threshold in just the first year. California is not the same as Washington.

Another troubling statement proliferated by Senator Allen’s office, and by many supporters of SB 277, is the belief that if SB 277 becomes law, those who currently utilize personal belief exemptions will merely “fall into line” and take their children in to get all of the legally mandated vaccinations. I just don’t see how that is going to happen.

These parents have deeply held beliefs regarding vaccinations, whether they are based on scientifically published risks (such as those on the vaccine inserts themselves, as listed on the CDC website), or vaccine injured children, or other reasons. They are not simply going to change their minds because the legislature is attempting to force them into a Hobson’s choice (see, Allison v. Merck, 110 Nev. 762 (1994)).

As I am sure you know, the case law regarding parental rights abounds. From Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390 (1923) to Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), where the Court explicitly stated, “freedom of personal choice in matters of marriage and family life is one of the liberties protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

Supporters of the bill often respond that this choice does not extend to those things that may harm others. I have two points in response to that claim.

First of all, let us not pretend that schools are sterile environments. From pink eye, to head lice, to hand foot and mouth disease, to the common cold, those attempting to assert that schools are an immunologically safe environment for children, but for mandatory vaccinations, are sorely mistaken. If I were a parent of an immunologically compromised child, or even a child with a food allergy, I would likely never choose to send my child to a typical school, even if immunization rates were 100%. That is simply too risky of a choice.

Next, regarding the assertion that SB 277 allows some sort of legal “loophole” by carving out an exception for homeschool, this is no special exception. A brief overview of any federal case on the issue, and an understanding of how homeschool laws work in other states will clearly demonstrate that there is no conceivable way that legislators could require mandatory immunizations across the board, thus including as against homeschools.

In West Virginia and Mississippi, both states legislate homeschool separately from the school immunization laws. Thus this “exception” is a fallacy, it is a constitutionally mandated carve out.

Which brings me to my next concern: assuming the high likelihood that these parents will not simply “fall into line,” there will likely be an immense influx of children into the homeschooling community.

First of all, I fully support anyone’s well considered decision to homeschool. I think it is an amazing opportunity for families who decide to make that choice based upon careful consideration. SB 277 does not allow for a careful consideration, it forces the hand. Homeschooling is an immense undertaking, and I fear that it is not in the best interests of the state to alienate so many parents for a decision that does not have a demonstrated impact on the current immunological climate in schools. The Senate Floor Vote Analysis itself stated that vaccination rates are at an “all time high” statewide, and furthermore than a majority of the cases of Measles following the “Disneyland outbreak” affected adults, not children. Furthermore, the so called epidemic has since been declared over by the CDC, removing the remote justification for the mandate of the Measles vaccination, much less the nine additional vaccinations currently included in the law.

Additionally, one can’t help but wonder what logic prompts lawmakers to force all of the staunch non-vaccinating parents into one community. How will it increase vaccination rates, or decrease the spread of the disease by completely removing the requirement that parents meet with medical doctors, and instead, forcing all of the non-vaccinated children into the same social group? This makes no sense.

I am also deeply troubled by clause (11) of the bill, which writes a blank check for lawmakers to add any additional vaccinations, with absolutely no inkling of a due process requirement, or any other external limitation other than arbitrariness or more likely a desire to gain re-election. Other states have their vaccination addition language tied to an external governmental body, such as the CDC. The current language is appalling to anyone with a sense of what the Due Process Clause actually requires.

There is no doubt in any case law that the state has the authority to exercise its police powers to enact mandatory immunization laws when necessary. However, I think an overview of relevant cases will demonstrate that there are certain prerequisites that must be met. I highly recommend a review of the seminal case, Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11 (1905), to see just exactly how careful the Court was in restating repeatedly that states can go too far. Even in the follow up case, Zucht v. King, 260 U.S. 174 (1922), there was just one mandatory vaccination at issue, not ten. Furthermore, that vaccination was for a highly communicable disease, not those which are not typically spread by mere close quarters.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I urge you to review the case law of those parents whose children have been severely vaccine injured, and which no relief has been afforded. Specifically:

  • Workman v. Mingo County Bd. of Ed., U.S. Ct. App. 4th Cir. (2011), for which the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari, the mother of two school aged children. Her 13 year old child suffered from serious health problems, which manifested around the time she began receiving vaccinations. These specifically included diagnoses of pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified, severe sleep disorders, and other behavioral problems. The problems were so pervasive that it required that child to be homeschooled. The mother thus sought a medical exemption from being required to vaccinate her second child, a 6 year old, due to fears of a genetic predisposition to vaccine injury. The district court granted the Board of Education’s motion for summary judgment denying a medical exemption, and the Court of Appeals Affirmed. Thus, no medical exception was granted.
  • Bruesewitz et al., v. Wyeth, 131 S.Ct. 1068 (2011), Hannah Bruesewitz was born on October 20, 1991. Her pediatrician administered doses of the DTP vaccine according to the Center for Disease Control’s recommended childhood immunization schedule. Within 24 hours of her April 1992 vaccination, Hannah started to experience seizures. She suffered over 100 seizures during the next month, and her doctors eventually diagnosed her with “residual seizure disorder” and “developmental delay.” Hannah, a teenager at the time the case was heard, is still diagnosed with both conditions. The Supreme Court affirmed that the manufacturer of the vaccine that caused injury to the child was immune from suit, eventhough that particular batch had reportedly hurt many others. The parents had appealed the initial decision from their injury petition, which was denied. Thus, the parents were denied any recovery at all.

Parents of vaccine injured children are continuously looked down upon, as though they have done something wrong, or are otherwise blameworthy for attempting to convey to others how vaccinations have hurt their children. Vaccine injuries are real. Look at the individuals who are coming to the capitols in droves, myself included. We are not crazy. We are not fringe. I vaccinate my children, and I still oppose SB 277. I know that of all the career politicians, you are likely the most reasonable, and you demonstrate that you actually care about California through the manner in which you exercise your power as Governor. I respect you highly, and it was my pleasure electing you to office.

I urge you to veto SB 277. Despite being utterly unnecessary, it sets a very bad precedent for California.

Respectfully,

CALawMama

Attorney at Law

Filed under: Uncategorized

Wisdom of the Framers

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”

***

“[W]hen a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.”

I hereby revoke my consent to be governed by those lawmakers who have taken it upon themselves to systematically deride the liberty and constitutional protections of those who make the informed decision, based upon their personal beliefs, to not vaccinate their children.

Thomas Jefferson made consent a requirement, and in fact stated that consent was a SELF EVIDENT requirement of just governance.

I don’t know what it will take for all those Senators in Sacramento to WAKE UP, but hopefully it will come before Senate Bill 277 goes for a vote before the entire California State Senate.

Since the authors of SB 277 removed an entire clause from the Bill SOLELY with the purpose to bypass the appropriations committee. In yet another sneaky, underhanded attempt to force the bill through the California State Legislature as quickly and quietly as possibly.

Dum tacent clamant: “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.”

The term parens patriae was explicitly stated in the Senate Judiciary Committee analysis. The state assumes its right as the benevolent decisionmaker for ALL children in the State of California.

SB277 would apply to all daycare centers in the state. This means newborns fall within its parameters. It will completely eliminate ANY choice by parents regarding vaccinations. This includes which ones are administered and when.

You will not legislate people into compliance.

You will not pull the wool over our eyes.

This is not about vaccinations. There are no current outbreaks. The extensive list of vaccinations is unjustified. There are risks inherent in any medical procedure, including vaccinations. The CDC itself lists these risks. It should be SOLELY up to the parents of children to make informed choices for THEIR children. Our children do NOT belong to the state.

Oppose SB 277, before its too late.

Californians, you must ask yourselves:

“If I am not for myself, who is for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?”

Filed under: Uncategorized

An Open Letter to the Democratic Party and California Lawmakers

Dear Democratic Party and California lawmakers,

Do you know what the biggest problem with lawmakers, politicians, and political parties is today? YOU are entitled. You think you are entitled to the vote of your so called “base.” You think you are entitled to maintain the same number of people in your districts, or your state. You are wrong.

I have never been one to vote the party line blindly. I always consider the issues and candidates’ positions.

However, I am SICK and tired of politicians doing things to gain popularity when they know or SHOULD know that they are wrong. ESPECIALLY when the law is unconstitutional. Your voters are people, and they actually think about the things that you say. The misinformed and rude statements you make to polarize or ostracize people on twitter or any other social media platform.

You are not entitled to have anyone vote for you. You have to EARN your votes. You represent US. So do your job and LISTEN TO YOUR constituents.

When Hillary Clinton announced that she was running for president, like any life long Democrat/bleeding heart liberal, I was ELATED. I thought, I cannot wait to campaign for her! Because I dedicate what little time I have to helping causes and people that I support.

But then, she started praising common core. Seriously? That’s one of your first moves? And THEN, OH AND THEN, she sent a highly inflammatory tweet regarding vaccinations. I cannot read that tweet as ANYTHING other than condescending. I asked you about it, and I did not receive a tweet in response. Shocking.

You do not represent me or my views. I respect parents’ right to choose what’s best for THEIR children. Children belong to themselves and their families, certainly NOT to the government. When did the Democratic party become the voice of Big Brother, please tell me? I supported Obamacare, because as a lawyer, I have read the cases about insurance companies, and as someone with asthma, and now children, I have experienced first hand their pre-existing coverage exclusions and outrageous claims. But it will be a cold day in HELL if you think you are going to tell ME what medical procedures will be required for MY children.

When did our party stop being about helping people in need? Because that is what *I* signed up for. However, I have recently realized in my volunteer efforts, and by providing completely free legal advice, that volunteers could truly run the government and social service agencies more efficiently. I mean CPS is investigating kids walking to the park, R U SRS? Yet as a blawger, I am CONSISTENTLY coming across cases of parents whose children are being taken away from their parents because they have been physically abused AND THEN GIVEN BACK TO THOSE SAME PEOPLE. Where is the real societal problem?

Statements by Rand Paul and Scott Walker are becoming appealing. WHAT THE HELL IS THAT DEMOCRATS? Why are those two men more appealing than Hillary, she is supposed to be OUR Golden Girl.

But she does not speak for me right now, and she does not speak TO me.

Therefore, because of my deeply seated dissatisfaction with our party, I am respectfully and officially becoming a member of the Republican party. And I am not the only one.

As of this second, I am the newest member of the California Republican Party.

Maybe that will get your attention.

Sincerely,

@CALawMama11007730_1422351011408113_608530844583887517_n

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Filed under: Uncategorized

Stop The Madness: Why I Vehemently Oppose SB277

calawmama:

My thoughts on the vaccination madness.

Originally posted on From Law School to Homeschool:

Before I begin, I have a few disclaimers to state:syringe

  1. I vaccinate my children. We made this decision based on what is best for our family.
  2. I homeschool my children, therefore this law does not affect me or my family.
  3. Bureaucracies and all of their downfalls make me crazy.
  4. In a Bioethics & Law course, I wrote a research paper on the substantive due process rights of parents to refuse immunizations for their children.
  5. My arguments are based on my legal training and experiences as a parent of four children, here in California.

California has long been a bastion for innovation in the legal field. From laws on Evidence, Environmental emissions, to philosophical aka personal belief exemptions for refusing vaccinations, we are first, and I like to think in some cases the best when it comes to making cutting edge choices.

This is not a cutting edge choice.

This is…

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It’s A Calling: This is Now

Originally posted on From Law School to Homeschool:

I’ve been having an existential crisis lately. Apparently, this isn’t uncommon for homeschoolers in February. I can only imagine how difficult things must be for those of you with snow!

Anyhow, as is often the case with this sort of thing, it is tied to what has been going on with us. My 5 year old had some sort of stomach virus over the weekend, and my nearly 1 yo is going on 48 hours of a persistent high fever. Luckily it is responsive to motrin and “airing him out.”

Anyhow, this means that we have been home A LOT. Since Friday. Those of you who know me IRL know that I hate being home. I loathe it. Sure, you can’t always not be home, but in an ideal world, I’d leave home at 10 and return at 5, cook dinner, etc.

I think the reason I hate it is…

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The Four Cups of Flour Rule

Originally posted on From Law School to Homeschool:

I don’t have the time to write any of the things that I want to right now, but I thought I’d share a little piece of wisdom that I recently realized.

In cooking for our family, 2 adults and 4 kids, any recipe that involves baked good requires a minimum of four cups of AP flour, or a combination of flours.

What this means, is that if a recipe does not have that, it will not be enough to feed everyone a decent amount.

For example, in making tortillas, the recipe for which I hope to blog sometime soon, the recipe I was following only had 2 1/2 cups of flour. I think that made enough for each person to have 1 1/2 tortillas, no bueno.

On another occasion, I was making oatmeal bannocks, which again I hope to share soon, and after mixing the various ingredients together, I could…

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Pizza Dough

WordPress is just not being my friend today. I had a whole blog post typed out, and it auto saved NONE of it. BLAH!

So anyway. Today I’m going to tell you about Pizza Dough, because you need to make it. This is a modified version of the recipe in Pioneer Woman’s first cookbook. There is one in a subsequent book, but we like this one the best.

Here’s my version:

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet rapid rise yeast (make sure it says rapid or quick rise, not just active)
  • 3 cups warm water
  • 8 cups AP flour (note this recipe could easily be halved for a family of four or smaller, we just eat a lot of pizza!)
  • 2/3 cup EVOO
  • 2 tsp salt

This recipe could not be easier. You pour the yeast into the warm water and let it sit. Meanwhile, in your electric mixer, or by hand, put in the flour and salt, then add the EVOO on slow, until it’s just mixed. Then, gently mix the yeast and water, then add it into the mix on a low speed. Once it forms a dough ball, you’re done! Just set it into an oiled bowl, cover with a paper towel, and let it sit 1-2 hours. 2 hours is the sweet spot IMO, check it:

photo (16)

Then, stretch it out and place onto an OILED surface, either straight onto the pan, or on an aluminum foil lined pan. Waxed paper works in a pinch. Top with sauce, cheese, and your favorite toppings, and bake at 400-450 depending on your oven for 18ish minutes, until the cheese is bubbly, and crust is golden brown. If baking with kids, individual cake pans work great.

You can totally do this, behold:

Greek-ish style pizza: feta, sliced kalamata olives, spinach

Greek-ish style pizza: feta, sliced kalamata olives, spinach

8ish cheese pizza (mozzarella, cheddar, quattro formaggio, etc.)

8ish cheese pizza (mozzarella, cheddar, quattro formaggio, etc.)

kid pizzas

kid pizzas

I am so bad at formatting, I give up on today. I also suck at photography. Happy Monday, the end!

Filed under: Being Deliberate, Cooking for Large Families, cooking from scratch, cooking with kids, Easy recipes, quick recipes, , , , , ,

What’s Your Homeschool Missing: Blank Page Mentoring

Blank page mentoring is a big deal.

photo (6)

My 7 yr old in play LoL

photo (5)

My blank page– things I want or need to do for myself in the coming week.

photo (3)

For my 3 year old

photo (4)

My 5 yo Core Phaser

I am having an issue formatting, so hopefully these pages will all be magically next to each other in this post, ahh!!!

Anyhow, blank page mentoring. It’s the idea that you sit down, each week, to a blank piece of paper, and you write out what you hope to accomplish for your child.

In 2015, I have made a commitment to be more deliberate and intentional. This means figuring out what it is I want to do, and then making a plan to do it, with a view to the long term, if that makes sense. So, for example, if I really want to see a certain person that lives far away at a park day, then I have to plan the preceding days and weeks around it to ensure we aren’t doing a bunch of far away drives at the same time.

Blank page mentoring is a way of being more deliberate in your homeschool. You reflect about what is going on with your child, one at a time, and what role you will play in supporting them, or getting them resources. For example, if I know that my oldest wants to work on sewing, how can we make that happen? If my 5 year old really wants to bake, what should we make, and where will we need to get the ingredients in advance, etc.

This also means planning field trips and outings based on what’s going on with the kids. For example, they have been really interested in walking to our local library, both for the walk itself, and for the library part. So we have been making a lot of time for that lately.

I’ve also noticed, and read in unschooling groups, that if you hope to have any free time, it’s important to make sure that each child’s cup is filled, so to speak. Therefore, putting the time in with your 3 year old in an intentional and focused way, is just as important as with your 5 or 7 year old. For me, just offering to “do whatever he wants” with my 3 year old is not fruitful. His conception of “whatever” is amorphous, what does that MEAN? What do you MEAN read a book. Which book? They are everywhere in our home. It is much more productive to say, would you like to play tangrams with me? We an build them this way which I know you have liked before. That creates peace, and engagement. You’ll notice that my BPM with my 5 yo includes a lot of “play X.” She is very into games lately, and the specific ones listed are her absolute favorites. She can never get enough time playing them. It is a very special time for her, and so fun for me to participate!

Same with my 7 year old. Asking her to read aloud to me is much less fruitful than asking her to read D’Aulaire’s Greek Myths, eventhough she ultimately decided to read from The Hour of the Olympics instead. Please note, sometimes she will not want to read what I have suggested, or sometimes even she won’t want to read at all. So I move on, and do not let it get to me. It’s not personal. Sometimes we don’t want to do certain things. To be successful with a TJEd home, though, we have to focus on ways to inspire our children, hence the Key “Inspire NOT Require.” This means strewing interesting things for our children, and more specifically in our experience, and the experiences of many people we know, strewing experiences. You have to keep going, even if nothing seems to be working. I’ll write more on strewing in future posts– it is a very special and very important topic, well deserving of its own separate writing space!

Back to BPM– so at the end of the week, yesterday, as I was watching Daniel Tiger with the kids, I decided to look back at the week and see what we had done. I didn’t get a chance to do everything listed, we did some different things instead, and that’s ok! I had a great time thinking about what we had experienced, and looking forward to this week.

Once I opened the email with This Week in History (TWIH), I knew it was going to be another fun and exciting week! Happy Monday everyone!

Filed under: A Thomas Jefferson Education, Being Deliberate, Being Intentional, Blank Page Mentoring, Core Phase, D'Aulaire, inspiration, Inspire Not Require, Leadership Education, Love of Learning, Magic Tree House, TJED, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Blog Update

So, I recently made the decision that I wanted to really commit to my personal blog. What this means is that I have to do it in a way that not only makes sense, but in a way that all the things I want to blog about actually get done. Therefore, it seems to me that it makes the most sense to merge all my various projects together. Therefore, I will be talking about those things that were originally only covered in my CALawMama Blog (legal developments, news, work related topics, etc.), and those from my Ruby Acre (crafts, cosmetics, wine, home, more lifestyle type things). Therefore, this will become a more of a cohesive blog about the things that interest me.

Eventually I hope to hire a web designer to make everything all organized and in different tabs, but for now I just have categories and tags. I will be working to update my about and pages to reflect the changes, but like everything else in my life, it will probably take a while to get done! LOL

I hope you will enjoy!

Filed under: Uncategorized

On Following Arbirtrary Rules and Other Life Lessons: This Week-ish in our TJEd

calawmama:

Latest on our TJEd on the homeschool blog, check it!

Originally posted on From Law School to Homeschool:

7606_10152451706551485_562915599540582178_n Recently, while we were eating out at a local restaurant, someone actually approached our table and said that our family had the best behaved small children they had ever seen. They had a teenage son. Can you imagine? :D

We have been doing a lot lately. I know this is true because when I look back at all the photos that I have taken, I see, objectively all the places we have been, things we have done, people we have seen, etc. However, it’s difficult to have the mental space to keep running tally of what exactly we have been up to.

This year, we are part of a charter. For those unfamiliar with homeschooling — hey I had NO idea what this was even after we started homeschooling– a charter is registered with the state of California, and works with parents to procure the materials they want, while maintaining…

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