Dear Committee Members,
I am writing to ask you to please support HB 1235. This landmark legislation provides important protections for the citizens of South Dakota. Essentially, it shields individuals from forced medical procedures, including vaccination, by outlawing medical mandates and making it a misdemeanor to engage in any form of medical coercion.
HB 1235 will greatly benefit the citizens of South Dakota:
- Though South Dakota presently honors religious and medical exemptions to vaccination, exemptions are always subject to repeal and open up the door for discrimination. As such, HB 1235 puts in place strong protections for medically frail individuals for whom vaccination is contraindicated as well as those with sincerely held religious beliefs against vaccination.
- The bill upholds the 14th Amendment by affirming that each citizen has the right to choose or reject any medical procedure, free from threats or compulsion, and shall not be discriminated against for refusing an unwanted medical intervention.
- HB 1235 will lead to stronger health outcomes for the citizens of South Dakota. Today, 54% of U.S. children have a chronic health condition — from asthma and ADD to autism and obesity. This is in stark contrast to 1960, when only 1.8% of children had a condition lasting three months that affected their daily activities.
As the number of mandatory vaccinations has increased over the past few decades, so has the epidemic of chronic childhood illness. HB 1235 allows citizens to steer away from one-size-fits-all medicine — which often results in poor health outcomes — and instead shift toward precision medicine; this medical model focuses on customized healthcare that tailors all medical decisions, treatments, practices, and products on a patient’s individual needs and genetics. Some of the many benefits include improving disease detection, predicting susceptibility to disease, and preempting disease progression.
Rest assured that lifting immunization requirements for school entry will not negatively impact South Dakota’s immunization rates. Vaccines are not a requisite for attending school in Canada, the United Kingdom and Japan, yet those regions have robust vaccination programs that are supported by strong policies that encourage citizens to be immunized.
More importantly, South Dakota already has high immunization rates, with 96%-plus coverage among Kindergartners for DTaP, MMR, Polio and Varicella, according to state health department data. Creating strong policies where vaccines are both accessible and encouraged will protect — and could even strengthen — the state’s immunization rates.
Lastly, know that repealing vaccine mandates will not result in higher rates of infectious illness in South Dakota. Though measles has received widespread media coverage over the past year, there has not been a single documented case of measles in South Dakota since 2015 — when there was just one case. It’s important to note that U.S. measles rates were on the decline far before the vaccine was introduced in the 1960s. In fact, data shows that measles mortality predominantly occurs in regions outside of the United States afflicted by poor nutrition, sanitation, and limited access to healthcare — not in places like South Dakota.
HB 1235 is a win for South Dakota, and I hope you will support this legislation. It is a chance for our great state to show the rest of the nation that South Dakota is a leader — a state that values robust health, values bodily autonomy, values informed consent, and values the right of each citizen to choose which medical procedures are in his or her best interest.
Thank you in advance for your consideration.