The battle lines are clearly drawn over a proposal called the “Vaccine Choice and Anti-Discrimination Act” that Tuesday drew a crowd in legislative hearings at the Ohio Statehouse.
The hearing room for HB 248 was packed with people who support the bill, sponsored by Rep. Jennifer Gross, R- West Chester.
The proposal would prohibit mandatory vaccinations and outlaw disclosure of a person’s vaccination status to a third party.
The bill would also make it illegal for anyone, including a person’s employer, to discriminate against them if they have not received the coronavirus vaccine or any other vaccine.
In testimony before the committee Dr. Sherri Tenpenny, author of a book entitled “Saying No To Vaccines,” and several other books, said Ohio should not allow employers to force workers to get the shot. “We know that 40 percent of the people don’t want this. They should not be coerced to take the shot to keep their job,” Tenpenny said.
Stephanie Stock, president of the group Ohio Advocates for Medical Freedom, was one of the people there to show their support for the bill.
Stock said vaccines should remain a matter of personal choice.
“I don’t believe that any business has the right to tell you how to make medical decisions,” Stock said.
Several Miami Valley lawmakers sit on the health committee.
Rep. Tom Young, R- Dayton said the bill seeks to balance the interests of individuals and business owners, although there are many issues in the proposal yet to be resolved.
“You have pluses and minuses on both sides. You have some employees who are resistant and some that are not,” Young said.
Critics of the bill include Rep. Beth Liston, D-Dublin, who is also a doctor and cautions that the proposal will be harmful. “I think the bill’s dangerous and it’s going to lead to death,” Liston said.
She questioned the professional qualifications of the speakers giving testimony and past statements from them against vaccines, saying if the bill passes it will lead to more disease outbreaks in kids.
Tuesday’s hearing on HB 248 was all from supporters of the plan.
The next committee hearing is expected to include opposition testimony.
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