PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A committee in the state House of Representatives has approved a constitutional amendment that, if approved, could prevent all vaccine mandates in the future.
To one side, it’s all about individual medical freedom. To the other side, it’s a dangerous partisan play based on fake science and conspiracy theories.READ MORE: Protest Held Outside Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald's Home Hours Before COVID-19 Vaccination Deadline For Employees
Tired of vaccine mandates from government or employers, Pennsylvania state Rep. Russ Diamond, a Lebanon Republican, said Pennsylvania’s Bill of Rights needs to be expanded to include an individual right to medical freedom that trumps whatever government, health officials or employers say.
Diamond’s constitutional amendment, approved on a party-line vote in the House Health Committee is simple: “The right of an individual to refuse any medical procedure, treatment, injection, vaccine or prophylactic may not be questioned or interfered with in any manner. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged to any person in this Commonwealth because of the exercise of the right under this section.”
“This simply says you can’t force someone, or coerce someone into getting this. And then, on the other side of it, discriminate against them if they just simply say no,” Diamond told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Wednesday.
“And there are reasonable, thoughtful, health care professionals who have legitimate questions,” he added.
But Pennsylvania state Rep. Dan Frankel, the Democratic chair of the Health Committee, sharply criticized this amendment.
“It’s a dangerous amendment,” says Frankel. “And if this had been part of our constitution in Pennsylvania over the past century, we would have never been able to eliminate diseases like polio, smallpox, rubella, mumps, measles.”
Diamond defends his amendment.
“There is no specific protection of individual medical freedom in either one of our Constitutions,” Diamond said.READ MORE: 5,000-6,000 Gallons Of Gas Spilled Into Washington County Stream
Frankel, who supports vaccine mandates, calls this, “An approach that is basically catering to the most extreme points of view in our community with respect to public health.”
By including prophylactics, or preventive measures, Frankel said Diamond’s amendment would allow individuals to ignore mask mandates, quarantine rules and even hand-washing.
“If you require your employees if you work in a restaurant to wash their hands after using a restroom, they could refuse that,” Frankel said.
“No, it doesn’t,” Diamond said. “I don’t perceive it applied in that manner at all.”
Diamond said the courts would sort that out, along with this question: Under this amendment, can a minor object to a medical procedure or vaccine imposed by their parent? No clear answer.
The basic dispute is public health versus personal freedom when society faces fast-spreading diseases.
“I don’t believe that anybody has a right to endanger somebody else,” Frankel said.
“Medical freedom ought to be established as a fundamental right,” Diamond said.MORE NEWS: Liquor Control Board Report Reveals Unflavored Vodka As Top-Selling Drink In Pennsylvania
Voters get the final say on Constitutional amendments. If this makes it through the House and Senate twice, the earliest it gets on the ballot is 2023.