Thunderdome 2015: Children’s health vs. parents’ rights

“Thunderdome 2015” is The Colorado Independent’s wrap-up series on the 2015 legislative season. For a series overview, check out “Thunderdome 2015: 120 days under the gold dome.”

There was something surreal about freshman conservative senator Tim Neville’s push this year to protect parent’s rights. Yes, Neville is a “powerful freshman.”

He came to the Senate with years of political experience behind the scenes and having spent a year in the chamber in 2012 as an appointed senator. Neville made a splash early in the session with his “Parent’s Bill of Rights.” The proposal drew out anti-vaccination Coloradans in support of lowering the already as-low-as-they-go bar in the state for opting out of immunizations. This was at a time when measles were spreading among “anti-vaxxer” Californians, and national health authorities and late-night talk show hosts had started calling for an end to the madness.

“Hey, remember that time you got Polio?” asks a doctor in a special comedic PSA aired on Jimmy Kimmel Live. “No, you don’t, because your parents got you fucking vaccinated!”

Nevertheless, Neville argued that the government was stepping on parent’s rights. But many of the alleged infringements on rights the bill’s champions railed about in fact include broad opt-out or parental permissions provisions. Vaccinations? Almost any personal objection will do in Colorado to free your kids from the science of disease control. Sex education? You can bar your kids from any of that you like, too.

Opponents of the bill said the real concern should be to protect children’s rights. Kids need vaccinations. They also need to be able to visit a counselor and talk about the fact that they’re gay without fear that a disapproving parent will be brought into the conversation.

The bill passed out of the Senate and was killed by Democrats in a House health committee.

Read “Thunderdome 2015: 120 days under the gold dome,” for the rest of the series. 

Photo credit: frankieleon, Creative Commons, Flickr.