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Anti-vaccine activists forced to drop attempt to block new California law

Opponents of the vaccine bills signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom failed to get enough signatures to qualify to make the 2020 ballot.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Opponents of new California vaccine law were forced to abandon their plans to block the laws from going into effect this Jan. 1 after failing to gather enough signatures to make the 2020 ballot.

The three women who official sought to put the law on hold — Denise Aguilar, Heidi Munoz Gleisner, and Tara Thornton — floated two measures that would allow voters to consider overturning it. However, they failed to gather more than 600,000 by Monday for the initiative.

Senate Bill 276 is aimed at putting a stop to fraudulent medical exemptions for school children's vaccinations, allowing state public health officials to investigate doctors who grant more than five medical exemption in a year and schools with vaccination rates of less than 95%.

RELATED: Newsom signs vaccine bills cracking down on fraudulent exemptions

At the same time, SB 714 protects children with existing medical exemptions, allowing them to continue not getting vaccinated until their next immunization requirement, unless that exemption was granted by a qualifying doctor.

The women, who are a part of the anti-vax group Freedom Angels, expressed their disappointment via Facebook, accusing the Secretary of State's Office of using "grossly misleading" wording on the ballot.

"These misleading Title & Summary statements would inevitably make educating the voters to the egregious nature of these laws very difficult," the Freedom Angels wrote in the Facebook post. 

Senator Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) who wrote SB 276, said the bill attempts to correct an influx of fraudulent medical exemptions that cropped up after passage of a law that eliminated all non-medical exemptions for immunizations required for school entry.

"While the vast majority of physicians uphold standards of care, a small number of unethical physicians have monetized their license by selling medical exemptions for profit," Pan wrote.

RELATED: Blood, sweat and cheers: California lawmakers recover from a night to remember

Earlier this year, anti-vaccine advocates protested the passage of the two bills, among other new laws, by gathering on the steps of the Capitol building. The action, called Operation Occupy Sacramento, included hundreds of opponents from all over California.

Anti-vaccine activists flooded Capitol hallways and interrupted hearings. Towards the end of the year's legislative hearings, one woman threw a menstrual cup filled with blood onto senators below the gallery. At another point, Pan was shoved in the back by a protester while walking outside of the Capitol. 

Pan criticized opponents of the new law, accusing the actions to block the bills as “a sham." 

“This is all theater and drama for their own benefit," Pan said. "They’re not serious about policy. They’re not serious about the bill. They just want to create theater."


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