CALawMama's Blog


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

Angelita Garcia-Stonehocker Speech June 25, 2015

Intro/Bio: Angelita Garcia-Stonehocker is here representing Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance for Healthy Choices. She is an educator and former professor at the Stanford School of Education, but, most importantly, she is a mother.

First, I want to teach you a kind of chant that people often use in Mexico when protesting government and corruption. “Viva” means “long live” and “los ninos” means “the children.”

When I say:………………………..You say:

Viva los niños!……………………………..Viva!


My father grew up as a migrant farm worker picking vegetables in the fields of central California. He fought alongside Cesar Chavez and many, many other Latino leaders for civil rights in the 70s. My mother is a 4th generation Mexican-American woman who taught me how to… ask questions. She fought for her life after suffering from a stroke, but she always taught me that the patient knows what is best for their body and a mother knows what’s best for her children. You see, in Latino families, MOTHERS are highly valued and respected to make decisions to protect their children.

What I am here to tell you today is that our Latino legislators have turned their back on Latina mothers and have forgotten their cultural value of motherhood. The Latino Caucus has largely ignored the stories that we, mothers, have told them about our children, thereby turning their back on their own people and their own values. Thousands of mothers have traveled hundreds of miles, with their children, week after week, to participate in this process. Latino legislators have the obligation to listen to those mothers AND to FIGHT for them. So far, all we have heard from them is silence and, worse, accusations from our representatives as if we were lying.

Senator Mendoza has refused to have a single face-to-face meeting with his constituents about any of these vaccine mandates. Senator deLeon has lied to us, even though some of us have personally worked along side him in the past. ASM Santiago ignored the stories of several Latina mothers with children who have been harmed by vaccines and he even left the room during the Health Hearing. ASM Gonzalez says WE are racist!… RACIST?!?… Really?… and ASM Calderon complains that we are too loud. Well, let me tell you, legislators, we are not going away!

We are not going away!

Let me tell you something else that I find funny. CBS News wrote an article this year about who uses PBEs, stating that “Parents who cite ‘personal beliefs’ to get their children exempted from routine vaccinations are typically white and well-to-do…. But the study also found” that such schools “had high rates of exemptions for medical reasons.” Dr. Paul Offit was confused about why that would be the case.

Well, let me tell you why that happens, Dr. Offit. First of all, many doctors admit that it is unnecessarily difficult to get a medical exemption, even with the current amendments to the bill, so parents with legitimate medical concerns often use a PBE as a de facto medical exemption. Secondly, Latino parents who have concerns about their children’s health, are consistently bullied by doctors and lied to by schools. While that is increasingly happening to parents of all colors, minorities often have little access to the legal knowledge and cutting edge medical research that affluent families typically use to help their children get exemptions as well as treatment for the complex injuries that occur after vaccination, such as brain inflammation, chronic seizures, or Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) [1].

Contrary to what our Latino Caucus has told us, SB 277 will hurt Latino families like mine. The confusion comes when we look at the numbers rather than listen to the stories of mothers. I challenge the Latino Caucus with this statement: Do not confuse our compliance for our support. Let me make this even clearer: Latinos strongly oppose vaccine mandates.

Recent genetic research suggests that vaccines may cause more problems for people with certain genetics, which are MORE common among Latinos and African Americans [2]. Dr. Richard C. Deth, professor of Pharmacology, wrote to our legislators to tell them that “the risk of adverse responses to vaccination is significantly greater for certain individuals and medical science is beginning to identify genetic factors which place people at greater risk… it is foolhardy to compel such vulnerable individuals to place themselves or their children at extraordinary risk by enacting mandatory vaccination legislation.”

Our group has been spreading the word about SB 277 to other Latinos in our communities and the response has been one of shock. Most parents are surprised when they find out that they actually had a choice, but many moms cry when they find out that they have valid concerns, but now their rights are being stripped away. Many times, we hear stories about children who have suffered life-threatening adverse reactions again and again because parents did not know they had a choice. Let me repeat myself: Latinos strongly oppose vaccine mandates.

Individuals and parents like us who speak out about adverse reactions are being ignored and vilified for our concerns. However, disregarding and minimizing the concerns of victims and mothers is a dangerous precedent that eliminates any hope of improving medical treatments, not to mention all accountability.

Vaccine mandates will remove the historically important ethical concept of informed consent. In the past, the lack of informed consent has led to many egregious acts in California. During the early 1900s, the lack of informed consent led to the forced sterilization of TENS of THOUSANDS of “undesirable” PEOPLE for the greater good, including Latinos and African Americans. More recently, when I was a child,the CDC “forgot” to inform Latino and African American parents in LA, near where I grew up, that they were giving an experimental vaccine to nearly 1,500 babies. The study was co-sponsored by Kaiser, which, of course, supports these vaccine mandates. They had to stop the study prematurely because of the death rate among babies who got a stronger dose of the vaccine in other parts of the world. To my knowledge, no follow-up studies have been done on the long-term effects of the vaccines in those children. Latinos strongly oppose vaccine mandates.

Vaccine-exempt individuals are now being used as scapegoats. The measles outbreak that started at Disneyland in 2014 might have affected nearly equal proportions of vaccine-compliant vs. non-compliant individuals. Among people with verified vaccination status who got measles during the outbreak, 30.5% (25 out of 82) were vaccinated and 18.3% (15 out of 82) were too young to be vaccinated [3]. Both of these groups are vaccine-compliant, yet still spread DISEASE in the outbreak. There may have been other vaccinated individuals who spread the measles, but there is no way to find out. Just to be clear, almost half of those who had documented status in the outbreak were vaccine compliant! Why aren’t we blaming vaccine failure for the outbreak?… On the contrary, the state is using the outbreak as a justification for systematically singling out a new minority group for discrimination and segregation.

History and recent events have shown that it is crucial that every human being has the right to make informed, individualized medical decisions for themselves and their children.

Viva los niños……………………………


[1] National Vaccine Information Center


[3] CA Dept. of Public Health, Measles Update 4-17-2015


Filed under: Uncategorized

2 Responses

  1. fineartistval says:

    So well written! Thank you for posting my daughter’s speech for today’s rally opposing SB 277. It needed to be said!

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