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February 12, 2015 11:49 AM UTC

Disastrous Press As "Anti-Vaxxer Bill of Rights" Passes Senate

  • by: Colorado Pols

Sen. Laura Waters-Woods.
Sen. Laura Waters-Woods.

Leading up to yesterday's party-line initial passage in the Senate of Colorado Senate Bill 14-077, the so-called "Parent's Bill of Rights," Republican proponents of the bill have complained mightily that the debate was being derailed by "undue" attention paid to the bill's provisions making it easier for parents to opt children out of routine vaccinations. As we've discussed in this space over several posts, Republicans face an unwelcome tension between a general public that overwhelmingly believes children should be vaccinated, and a small but highly vocal segment of voters and elected officials who entertain (or at least are willing to politically exploit) scientifically unfounded fears about vaccine safety.

Unfortunately, yesterday's floor debate on the bill more or less undid any argument from more reasonable Republicans that the "Anti-Vaxxer Bill of Rights" isn't exactly what it looks like. A quick roundup of the ample press coverage, starting with the Denver Post's John Frank:

The main effect of the legislation, although it went unacknowledged by supporters, would prevent teenagers from receiving birth control without parental approval and make it a crime for a physician to provide care to a minor without parent consent.

The measure also reaffirms current law that allows parents to remove their children from sex education and opt out of immunization requirements, a conversation that comes as Colorado faces scrutiny for some of the most lax vaccination laws in the nation. [Pols emphasis]

The Durango Herald's Peter Marcus:

The bill would set rights pertaining to education, health care and mental health. It is expansive, and within its language is a provision that would require parents to be notified of a right to be exempt from any state immunization laws…

Roberts acknowledged that some called her “crazy” for signing onto the bill. The moderate Durango Republican said the vaccination component wasn’t compelling to her. [Pols emphasis] She said the bill is really about building family networks.

“It’s not a vaccination bill,” Roberts told The Durango Herald in an interview on Monday.

But as AP's Kristen Wyatt reports, Sen. Ellen Roberts doth protest too much:

Another sticking point in the bill is a requirement that schools tell parents that they don’t have to vaccinate their children.

Republicans insist the law makes no change to Colorado’s current policy on vaccination, with parents already allowed to opt out for religious or “personal belief” reasons.

“The media has definitely spun this bill into the immunization bill … that’s shallow and misguided,” said Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango.

But much of the testimony in committee centered on vaccine policy, [Pols emphasis] and Democrats said the language could encourage more parents to opt out of immunizations.

We've posted a video above of clips from yesterday's debate that highlight the contradiction between Republicans who insist that vaccinations are a non-issue sideshow, and others who explain that no, it's what the bill is about. In addition, we've posted Sen. Laura Woods' floor speech on this bill in its entirety after the jump because it's…well, it's pretty remarkable. We're particularly surprised to see Sen. Roberts' full-throated defense of this bill, which exposes her to major political liability in future races with seemingly no upside. We had heard that Roberts agreed to cosponsor this legislation in hope of gaining support for her bills from fellow Republicans, not out of personal conviction–but now she has been firmly linked to the "anti-vaxxer" stigma she obviously dislikes in her local media, and done nothing to extricate herself.

The fact is, attempting to deny that this legislation was about the hot-button subject of vaccinations, when sponsoring lawmakers and a throng of witnesses testifying in support have made it very speficiallly about just that, was always going to backfire. It's exactly the sort of contradiction the press loves to pick apart in damaging news stories like the ones you see above. The mailers and attack ads that will result from this legislation will be truly devastating. And for a bill that was never going to make it through the Democratic-controlled House anyway, what Senate Republicans have done to themselves here makes absolutely zero political sense.

And it can't be undone now.


12 thoughts on “Disastrous Press As “Anti-Vaxxer Bill of Rights” Passes Senate

  1. Dear Right-Wing Republican Legislators:

    In you zeal to appeal to your base, you have forgotten the reason this parental control nonsense was roundly defeated by voters.  Also remember in that defeat that several right-wingers (Senator Bill Armstrong notably) refused to endorse the Parental Rights amendment.  Do you have any idea why?????  Of course not.  You just don't believe in science or reality.  In your zeal to appeal to your base, you have forgotten (or probably you never knew) that if you pass this bill a parent will have the right to take their daughter to an abortion provider and force her to have an abortion, and there is nothing you will be able to do about it.  Wake up dummies.  Remember learning about unintended consequences?  Well this is one.  Good luck folks.  You're endorsing forced abortions for pregnant girls, and if you do, just remember, that someone will hold you accountable in a couple of years.  Laura Woods, that means you.

      1. Depends if there's a massive disease outbreak or a series of low-level outbreaks.  Influenza, meseales, mumps, or polio.  😉

        Then what's a non-issue will become an albratross.

      2. What they will remember is how juvinile Republicans were to aggressively push an extremist agenda that went right into the trash can when it got to the House.  What they will remember is what a bunch of arrogant and clueless people Republicans are to assume they are the only stakeholders in our society and no compromises are allowed.  In short what they will remember is what a bunch of assholes Republicans are.

        1. I'm not arguing the merits of your case, all I'm saying is that nobody knows who state leg candidates are. They don't care now and they won't in a year. This is a waste of time. Pols should become a tourism blog until election years, theres nothing interesting to read otherwise.

            1. At least he has something new in his repertoire. In addition to Johnny Dem does stuff just as bad he now has …. yeah, it's awful but nobody will remember it.  

          1. If I compare the waste of time at Pols compared to the waste of time because of this ideological jihad resulting in nothing at the Colorado Senate, I would conclude that the taxpayer is footing the bill for this political grandstanding and it is a much bigger waste (MUCH BIGGER) than Pols pointing out the pig headed stupidity of these legislators.

    1. Craig you're right on target. The new section 14-16-105 in SB15-077 would give parents absolute control over the health care decisions of their minor children and would, as you said, allow them to order their minor daughter to have an abortion even if she did not want one. The bill specifically states that:

      A hospital or medical center shall not permit a surgical

      procedure to be performed upon a minor child in its

      facilities without first receiving written consent from

      the minor child's parent.

      This means any decision about any surgical or other healthcare cedisions rest with the parent(s) and if they so chose could sign a consent form anf force their minor daughter against her will to have an abortion.

      The Republican War on Women continues without any let-up. On the one hand they want to outlaw a woman's choice whether to have an abortion yet through this bill they want to give a third party adult the authority to force a minor female to have one. Apparently, for Republicans, as long as "women" don't get to make the choice then the choice doesn't matter.


  2. "A small but vocal group" … now where have I heard that one before – oh, right, the gun rights advocates, a small but shrill group with an increasingly questionable hold on reality … similar to the anti-vaccine advocates – it's no surprise the GOP courts these folks, it's about the only types they can hoodwink in to voting for them only to see when they are elected they get down to their real business cramming through pro Wall St and pro Big Business, Pro Oil & Gas (you know, their true constituency, or, the folks who pay their salaries – the legislature is now just an expense center on the corporate books … marketing and policy expenditures, I think it is) agenda.

    Guns, God and Gays … day by day, the GOP's once unholy trinity is being whitted away … and of course, it has to be replaced with something .., the anti-vaccine crowd is a worthy substitute who is remarkably similar to those other groups, so why not court them?


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