AUGUSTA – A volunteer led-organization met early Wednesday to hand over thousands of signatures gathered in an effort to overturn a bill that would remove certain exemptions for vaccinations for school children.
Members of Mainers for Health and Parental Rights collected more than 92,000 signatures across the state to get a People’s Veto on an upcoming statewide ballot.
They said they want to overturn a bill that gets rid of all non-medical exemptions for vaccines.
“When the bill passed in the Senate by only one vote, we felt like it was our obligation to do the people’s veto effort,” said Cara Sacks, co-chair of the Mainers for Health and Parental Rights petition effort.
LD 798 is a government-mandated vaccine bill. It does away with the philosophical and religious exemption to opt-out of vaccines. It also requires both children and parents to be vaccinated in order to attend school.
“We need that herd immunity so that we can have safe schools and safe communities,” Caitlin Gilmet, treasurer of the pro-vaccine organization Maine Families for Vaccines.
Members of Mainers for Health and Parental Rights, however, disagree. They said the parents they spoke with want to make this choice.
“We feel that we are better suited to make these decisions for our children, along with our doctors,” said Laurel Libby, a Mainers for Health and Parental Rights canvasser.
Those who support LD 798 said the bill is not about politics but rather but public health.
“When people refuse to vaccinate their kids because they believe bad science or they have misinformation, it puts all of us at risk,” said Gilmet.
The 45 boxes of signatures were handed over to the Secretary of State for the certification process.
There is a 30-day review period. If the number of valid signatures equals 10 percent of total number of votes in the last gubernatorial, the question will be on the ballot for the primary election in March.
According to Caroll Conley, who’s the leader of the Maine Christian Civic League, efforts to take death with dignity and state-funded abortion to the veto failed.