Why Every Oregonian Should Oppose SB-442: My Testimony to the Senate Committee on Health Care

Oregon's Senate Committee on Health Care on February 18, 2015

Oregon’s Senate Committee on Health Care on February 18, 2015

February 18, 2015

Salem, Oregon — My name is Dr. Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D. I am an award-winning author and researcher and I have been writing books, magazine and newspaper articles about issues related to childhood health for over ten years.

I grew up in a house full of scientists: My uncle, Sheldon Glashow, Ph.D., won a Nobel Prize in Physics and my mother, Lynn Margulis, Ph.D., was one of the most important evolutionary biologists of the 20th century.

I suspect I am also one of the most vaccinated people sitting in this room. I was fully vaccinated as a kid, I worked on a child survival campaign in West Africa in the 1990s for which I received an additional round of vaccines. Most recently, I was awarded a Fulbright grant by the United States government in 2006 – 2007 to teach and do research in Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world, necessitating even more vaccines.

I am pro-vaccine. I think vaccines are one of the most important medical inventions of our time. Yet I am opposed to any attempt to take away philosophical and religious exemptions from Oregon parents who decide not to vaccinate their children.

For me this is not a debate about the merits of vaccines, the harm vaccines may cause in a subset of vulnerable children, or whether or not the current CDC schedule is really in the best interests of our children’s health. It is a debate about freedom and parental choice.

The only two versions of the MMR vaccine available today contain human diploid lung fibroblasts, which are cells that were grown from aborted fetal tissue. Religious parents who do not want to inject their children with aborted fetal tissue cells should have the right to forgo these vaccines.

Three of the polio vaccines currently on the market contain cells grown from African green monkeys. Parents opposed to animal cruelty, those who are vegan, and those who do not want the cells of other animals injected into their children should have the right to forgo these vaccines.

Thousands of scientific studies have shown that a human baby’s immune system benefits tremendously from human breast milk. One study from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences showed that infants who were breastfed had a 20 percent lower risk of dying before they turned one than babies who were not.

Other studies have shown that breastfeeding—more than access to clean water and vaccines—helps children survive and thrive.

Not breastfeeding is a public health emergency.

So given the overwhelming evidence of the positive benefits of breastfeeding and the unequivocal benefit to a child’s immune system, should we legislate that American women breastfeed their babies? And exclude any children from public school if they have not been breastfed?

As farfetched as that may sound, lawmakers in the United Arab Emirates threaten women who refuse to breastfeed with jail time.

We all care about the same thing: how best to keep our children safe and healthy.

We should absolutely be educating parents about vaccines and vaccine safety.

But Oregon is not the United Arab Emirates. There is no place for forced vaccination in a free society. Oregon parents must have the right to choose to do what is best for their children.

Thank you.
Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D.

Senator Alan Bates has expressed public support for SB-442. He is a thoughtful, smart legislator. If enough of his constituents explain to him why they oppose limiting parental freedom, he may change his mind

Senator Alan Bates has expressed public support for SB-442. He is a thoughtful, smart legislator. If enough of his constituents explain to him why they oppose limiting parental freedom, he may change his mind

Contact information for Senate Committee on Health Care. Please write and call them and tell them that you oppose this misguided attempt to take away freedom of choice in health care decisions for our children:

Laurie Monnes Anderson, Chair. Email: Sen.LaurieMonnesAnderson@state.or.us Phone: 503-986-1725

Jeff Kruse, Vice Chair. Email: Sen.JeffKruse@state.or.us Phone: 503-986-1701

Tim Knopp. Email: Sen.TimKnopp@state.or.us Phone: 503-986-1727

Chip Shields. Email: Sen.ChipShields@state.or.us Phone: 503-986-1722

Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, sponsor SB-442. Email: Sen.ElizabethSteinerHayward@state.or.us Phone: 503-986-1717

Senator Alan Bates has publicly expressed his support of this bill. If you live in Southern Oregon, please let Senator Alan Bates know that his constituents are not in favor of limiting parental freedom. His email is: sen.alanbates@state.or.us. Email and call his office: 503-986-1703.

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Categories: vaccines.


  1. I was at the hearing that day. Jennifer, you did a fantastic job expressing the human rights issue that this bill clearly is impeding on. Thank you for being willing to take the long drive and speak out to help fight for our rights!

  2. When I grew up I received a total of 10 vaccines by the time I reached 18 in 1983. The average number recommended now? 54 (38 by the time your baby is 5 years old). I’m not anti-vaccine by any means. Vaccines save lives. But does a child really need 54 vaccines by the time they are 18 years old? Should you be mandated to receive all 54? Would any of those supporting this bill go in and get the 44 they didn’t receive as a kid? I sure as hell wouldn’t.

  3. Christine Solosky

    Thank-you Jennifer! My daughter is eighteen and has never been vaccinated, but it’s wonderful to see a voice of reason amongst all the hysteria.

  4. Thank you Jennifer! My first born son is my only child who has been vaccinated. We stopped all shots in 2005 for my oldest son after he had a severe reaction. We also decided to never vaccinate again. Our other two boys have never been vaccinated and I breastfed each of them for more than two years. They never get sick. I feel that vaccines are not safe or effective at this time.

  5. Val

    I have to agree with you. I think vaccines are an incredible medical advancement that has improved the overall health of the populations that use them as part of an overall wellness based strategy that uses ALL aspects of nutrition and sanitation and vaccination wisely. Or at least they were. The number of vaccines now being advocated as “necessary” is alarming in a country where medical science is an INDUSTRY with a predominantly financial focus instead of a community/wellness focus. Trust in a system driven by dollars and media hype can only be tenuous at best, and I will not argue with those that choose to opt out. It should be their choice entirely. I have vaccinated all my kids (as well as breastfed them all), but I have also routinely refused the latest vaccine to be offered if no one can demonstrate to me how lifestyle and sufficient knowledge won’t address the same issue.

  6. I agree, with caveats. Cell lines are just that, lines of cells that generations of cells ago came from tissue from a fetus. The anti movement has spun the terminology to imply that vaccine makers harvest fetuses to make the next batch. Further, drawing the harsh comparison to the UAE reeks of xenophobia and does nothing but pro up a fallacious straw man disguised as a slippery slope argument. There does need to be a method for opting out, in certain circumstances, and legislative overreaching does more harm than good, but I have to disagree with some of your points.
    slee recently posted…Pinterest is a fickle friend.My Profile

    • Gretchen

      Thee concerned parents (you call “anti-vaccine”) are not spinning anything, no ONE has claimed that Merck, et al. are harvesting fetuses! IN fact we all know that the cell lines are used over and over again, replicated. So there isn’t even a need to harvest. Parents concerned about the safety of vaccines are statistically college-educated, etc. Please, we are all on the same side and flippant statements like that are harmful to all of us. But on that fetus cell line topic, there ARE families who don’t want to inject that into their child’s or their own bodies. Just as many parents don’t want to inject aluminum sulphate (the adjuvant in the Hep A, Hep B and DTap vaccines) into bodies, it is a difficult toxin for children’s bodies (livers) to clear, and for newborns the aluminum (when injected) can accumulate in bloodstream, bones and brain)–this is very different from aluminum that goes through the GI tract. BTW, the levels of aluminum present in these three vaccines is anywhere from 5 to 30 times greater than the FDA’s limit of injectable aluminum in IV solutions, etc. Here are some facts from the Vaccine Court’s March 2015 quarterly report, to demonstrate that there are many issues related to vaccines that we just don’t have figured out. For the reporting period of Nov 16., 2014 to March 16, 2015, the Vaccine Court acknowledged 117 cases for injury or death, and compensated those families (this is a small subset of the much larger number of families who report injuries to the VAERS and don’t go to the Court, don’t make the 3 year timeline and/or are unaware of the court, etc.) 72 out of those 92 settlements were for significant injury or death ASSOCIATED WITH THE FLU VACCINE. Clearly we need to do more research. It’s a difficult sell for the manufacturers or the State or the US Government, given these kinds of statistics. We need safer vaccines! We are not there yet. Allow folks who find this concerning to question, to ask for better studies, to ask for safe vaccines. Dialogue and debate is part of the American way. We are NOT in a state of emergency, there were 200 cases of measles in the recent outbreak, and 1 case in Oregon. Does this mean we need to cry the sky is falling the sky is falling? When we, as a country, choose to limit our own personal rights, it is for BOTH a greater good, AND for a confirmed emergency. Oregon’s vaccination rates are at or above the CDC’s recommended levels for herd immunity. Is THIS an emergency. How?

    • Kathy P

      Your comment about the cell lines makes it sound just fine because it happened so long ago. You may want to look up: “Development of Vaccines From Aborted Babies” by Jessica Farnsworth, MD May 2011. It is not a rosy picture.To get cell line WI 38th, it was the 38th fetal sample, abortion, used in this research. WI-1 through WI-25 took 21 separate abortions. To get the rubella virus, that took 70 abortions. There is the MCR-5, IMR-90 and PERC6. They need to develop other cell lines because the market has proved so successful and the pharmaceutical industry perceives public acceptance. The first lines will die out eventually. There are more cell lines that have been developed from other aborted babies. These cell lines contain DNA from one human injected into another through vaccines. There are also human fragments. (Check the package inserts.) This has opened the way for aborted fetal cells to be used by food companies as flavor enhancers and in the cosmetic industry. The lastest news is aborted baby organs will be used to grow transplants for medical patients. We all need to step back and see the ethical and moral problems with using aborted babies to profit the drug companies.

  7. WCB

    Slee, calling out other countries on their human rights violation is not xenophobia. It’s simply the right thing to do. The rhetoric in the UAE pertains to how women shouldn’t have the freedom to choose when their feeding choices affects others. In Oregon, we’re hearing that we shouldn’t have the freedom to choose when, whether, or how to vaccinate because those choices “affect” our children. If the issue were as black and white as Sens. Steiner Hayward and Monnes Anderson are portraying, they would have a case. But it’s not. Even these Senators concede to risks. And where the risk is ours, the choice must be ours.

  8. Thank you for sticking your neck out. Some of us have to. So many have their head in the sand.
    I sent a email to my contact list and got reactions and responses, ranging from blessings and thank you to threats on my life and being called an imbecile.
    We must have the right to choose. Next the government will require we have our bodies violated in order to use public transportation.

  9. Jessica

    Thank you for pointing out the underlying issue, that of personal freedom to choose what is best. So many people are caught up in the mudslinging that they fail to see this bill as an erosion of EVERYONES rights.

  10. Free

    Thank You Jennifer.
    This is a rather challenging time to be an American.
    Whether or not ONE believes in GOD, (as is stated in the Bible, Quran, Torah, Bhagavad Gita… or any other belief system, of the Divine nature of being.) the God who made us, gave us Free will.
    It is what defines us as cognitive beings. Our choices. It is a basic fundamental Human, Birth Right.
    We are, in many religions, “Made in Gods image.” Therefore this notion of our bodies being our temples, has so many connotations… Not the least of, it is sacred. These Body, temples of ours.
    This being said, what we choose to believe is what is in our best interest, must be between us and God.
    This Freedom Defines us as Americans.
    Forcing anything on anyone is UN AMERICAN.
    We MUST protect our God given rights to decide what we put into our bodies.
    It is what this country is founded on. This Principal of FREEDOM.
    May God Bless and Protect you and yours.

  11. cori woodard

    What about children whose parents can’t or don’t breastfeed? How would you handle the vaccination question with these folks?
    I’m a former nanny who had many clients dealing with the difficulties; physically, job wise, time wise, and culturally. It takes time, patience and support to breast feed. These resources, though best, are not always available to all. I’d like to see you be the changemaker in the pro breastfeeding campaign.
    I’m saddened to see that you didn’t address this in this article.
    Thank you,
    Cori Woodard

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