TRENTON, N.J. – A hugely-divisive bill designed to eliminate the religious exemption for child vaccinations hit turbulence on Monday at the State House amid massive pressure from anti-vaccine protesters.
The State Senate bill (S-2173) was pulled at the last minute and kicked to the New Year. Senate President Steve Sweeney nevertheless vowed to keep pushing for its passage.
Newly-minted state Senator Mike Testa (R-1) was among those who said the late-breaking reprieve constituted a victory for religious liberty:
Tonight we scored a victory for the 1st Amendment, religious freedom, and the rights of parents to determine what gets put into their children's bodies. Thousands came to Trenton in opposition to S-2173. I'm glad to say your voices were heard! pic.twitter.com/yvSZxYpWHO
— Senator Michael Testa (@senatortesta) December 17, 2019
And inside the Senate chambers, the sound of the protesters chanting “In God we trust!” just outside the door is drowning out lawmakers debating legislation. pic.twitter.com/9GYwW3rhmM
— Brent Johnson (@johnsb01) December 16, 2019
Meanwhile, earlier on a busy Monday, the State Assembly passed the companion bill (A3818) in a 45-25 vote.
“This unconstitutional legislation attempts to write freedom of religion out of the law,” said Assemblyman Chris DePhillips (R-40). “In America, no government can abridge freedom of religion – and take it away from the people.”