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Is Compulsion Legal?

Deseret Evening News: Wednesday, December 19, 1900

The subjoined paragraphs appear in the Animals' Defender, for the present month. They are on the subject of considerable local interest at the present time:


“In the light of the tyrannical acts of certain so-called “boards of health" in enforcing vaccination upon children and adults, it is well for the public to know a few important facts relating to the subject of compulsory vaccination. Although it is often stated that the 'Supreme Court has decided that boards of health have the power to enforce vaccination among school children,' such is not the case. As stated by W.B. Clark in the Indianapolis People, the Supreme Court has never decided that the health board, school board, or any one else has the right to enforce vaccination.“


Again, Judge Prather of Washington has lately handed down a decision in the case of Parker vs Sinclair, in which the latter is charged with a illegally keeping the former's children from the public school. Judge Prather says: “It has been held by the Supreme Court of several of the States, and in every incident where this question has been raised, as far as I can learn, that the power to preserve and protect the public health vested in a state board of health does not authorized it to require compulsory vaccination. Judge Prather then sites numerous cases to that effect, and sustains the plaintiff's demurrer.


“Again, in a recent case in Pennsylvania, the officials of certain town, not satisfied with having refused a boy admission to the public school on the grounds that he had not been vaccinated, bethought themselves of the 'compulsory education act,' and, although the boy was being taught by his mother at home, brought the father before the court to answer. The case was taken up before the court of quarter sessions at Bradford County, where Judge Fanning decided that the 'vaccination act is not mandatory,' but the matter can also be left for the parent to decide. Also, 'if an unvaccinated child is presented to the school for admission and is refused, the requirements of the compulsory education act have been complied with.' This we see in the Homeopathic Envoy, which also quotes a statement from Dr. Ruaia, of the university of Paraguay Italy: “Italy is one of the most vaccination-ridden countries in Europe: no man escapes it. Yet in three years there were 47,780 cases of smallpox in the country, all of whom had been vaccinated.”

“This reminds us of the law passed in 1894 in Massachusetts concerning the exemption of school children from vaccination. This law provides (section 2, chapter 515, statutes of 1894) that the presentation of a certificate from a registered physician to the effect that in his opinion vaccination would be interest to the health of a certain child, such child should be admitted to the public school without vaccination.“


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