Tennessee state Rep. Jay Reedy is sponsoring a bill, “The Religious Exemption Protection Act,” which seeks to ban the government from forcing vaccinations on people if the vaccine derives from aborted babies.

His bill reads as follows: 

A state agency or department shall not promulgate or enforce any rule, and a political subdivision of this state shall not promulgate, adopt, or enforce any ordinance or resolution, that requires medical examination, immunization, or treatment for those who object to the medical examination, immunization, or treatment on religious grounds or by right of conscience.

According to The Federalist: 

The bill responds to concerns supercharged by COVID-19 that government agencies may force citizens to accept medical care against their conscience. Employees have already been fired for declining COVID-19 vaccination, setting up a precedent for people to lose jobs and face other consequences in the future for not accepting other medical demands. The development of available COVID-19 vaccines involved the use of testing from dead human body parts produced by abortion.

The bill is a direct safeguard to Article I, Section 3 of the Tennessee Constitution that states “no human authority can, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience.” It also amends Title 68, the Tennessee health code, that was signed into law in 1905, which effectively permits the Department of Health the right to demand an individual receives a vaccination.

Title 68 was a reaction to the Supreme Court case Jacobson v. Massachusetts that same year, which upheld the right of states to enforce compulsory vaccination laws. According to Title 68 of the Tennessee code, if an individual refuses a state-mandated vaccine they could receive a Class C misdemeanor and serve up to 30 days in jail.

The Religious Exemption Protection Act also aims to strike an exemption in the employee rights code. While the code permits an employee to refuse vaccination from an employer on religious grounds, it notably includes the language “except where the medical examination, immunization or treatment is necessary for the protection of the health or safety of others.”

One Republican member of the Tennessee House voiced opposition to the bill, saying, “The militant antiVaxxer movement from all over the country is engaged on this bill and hiding behind the Cross of Jesus Christ … and its beginning to show.” 

“The Tennessee bill will be voted on in front of the House Public Health Subcommittee on Tuesday, March 2, and will require six votes to then be moved to the full committee for a vote,” writes The Federalist.

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