For Immediate Release: February 11, 2021
Media Contact: [email protected]
Oregonians For Medical Freedom is a nonpartisan, education-based organization, working to protect informed consent and quality patient care. On behalf of the members of OFMF, Executive Director Nicole DeGraff expresses opposition to Senate Bill 254 and asks state leaders to join them in denouncing the discriminatory practices the bill would enact, and to uphold equity and equality. DeGraff brings attention to statements made by Governor Kate Brown, Oregon Department of Education Director Colt Gill, and Dr. Paul Cieslak of the Oregon Health Authority.
“This year has proven the value, and necessity of in-person education. We have lost too many students to suicide, isolation, addiction and despair, with our most vulnerable populations hit the hardest,” said DeGraff. “Governor Brown declared that, ‘it is absolutely critical that we return students to in-person learning as quickly as possible.’ Brown also acknowledged that, ‘the social, emotional, mental and physical health of so many students is tied to their schools and to the personalized support that educators provide,’ and added that ‘in-person education is an equity issue.’ We ask Governor Brown to uphold equity and equality once more and denounce the clear discrimination that SB254 creates for our children with disabilities, minority children, and their families. Colt Gill of the Oregon Department of Education has stated that ‘Schools are not super spreader sites.’ We call upon Colt Gill to protect our most vulnerable and denounce this bill to ensure access to quality education is maintained for all Oregon children. Dr. Paul Cieslak of the Oregon Health Authority has stated ‘Oregon’s current childhood vaccination rates are well above community immunity threshold and there are no threats of outbreak.’ We call upon Dr. Cieslak to protect the doctor patient relationship, instead of special interests. OHA data proves that Non-medical exemption rates have continued to fall. Children who truly need an exemption due to previous injury or sibling injury aren’t covered under the scope of medical exemptions, and would be discriminated against under the bill.”
SB254 has had two prior iterations since 2015, both of which failed to pass. Revisiting a failed bill so soon is negligent and places undue burden upon more than 65,000 children who would needlessly be kicked out of school, sports, extracurricular activities, on-campus cultural events and state licensed childcare. The Covid crisis has already created strain, economic hardship and collateral damage for Oregon families. This bill would disportionately negatively impact children who depend upon school for critical face to face IDD (Developmental Disabilities) and IEP services, food services, mental health support and camaraderie with peers. Impoverished families who depend upon state funded childcare, Head Start programs, and preschool would also be affected. SB254 is so constrictive that children missing one dose from a vaccine series would be banned from school and daycare, even if discontinued use has been advised by a Physician.
“Our state is a progressive state that has fought for inclusivity and acceptance, not exclusion for differences or denial of access to inherent services funded by taxpayers,” added DeGraff. “Our legislators have critical issues to address, and putting time or resources toward a special interest bill that would marginalize a large number of children and their families who are already struggling is a recipe for disaster. SB254 includes broad provisions for corporate interests and is contrary to what the public is expecting our elected officials to focus on. Our group is just one of many who object to SB254; OFMF is joined in partnership with a large coalition of professional and educational organizations, community groups, including Democrats for Informed Consent, religious and faith based groups and more. It’s time for our current lawmakers to lead us forward to a brighter future for all members of our society—not backward toward discriminatory practices proven to wrongfully target individuals based on medical and religious differences.”
Oregonians For Medical Freedom stands for equality and equitable access to education, protection over the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship and the preservation of medical privacy for all Oregonians. We call upon our State leaders to stand with us, and oppose SB254.
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