The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals jut affirmed a State Court ruling from New York that non-vaccinated children could be banned from attending public schools. Further, children who qualified to still attend under the former religious exemption clause could still be forced to stay out of school if there was an outbreak of a vaccine-preventable disease. Parents of children who qualified under this exemption are appealing the ruling and attorneys have said they will try to have the case heard by the Supreme Court. In a classic case of ‘Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins’, this is my take on the whole situation: I unabashedly don’t vaccinate my children. Counter to the stereotype of an unwashed hillbilly or irresponsible hippy or worse (I believe I have heard or been accused of most of them), I came to this decision through thorough and painstaking research. I didn’t take it lightly; after all, the health of my own and other children was at stake. That isn’t something I was going to toy with just to make a statement. But once I made the decision, I saw no reason to hide it or lie about it. I know some people, though, who because of the backlash against those who choose not to vaccinate, feel like they have to hide that decision. When we moved to Washington I met with a mainstream pediatrician and asked him what diseases were common in this area of the country and what my kids might be exposed to. I discussed my decision not to vaccinate, and I was fully open to re-evaluating the possibility that, faced with different circumstances, I may have wanted to consider certain vaccinations. When one of my children was preparing to go to school overseas we did choose to vaccinate her against a specific disease that is very prevalent in that part of the world. But every decision we make is done after careful deliberation and with as much information as possible. I also realize that my decisions carry consequences. When we lived in Detroit I had to sign a form each year that stipulated that if there was an outbreak of any disease I would keep my kids out of school (for those of my kids who weren’t homeschooled, obviously). That was just fine with me. I considered it the price we paid for living in concert with our conscience, and if it gave the other parents or the school staff peace of mind, it was a small price to pay. You see, here’s the thing about freedom: with it comes responsibility. Sure I can make a choice, but I don’t get to do it at your expense. I may think the other parents are being stupid or over-reactive, and I may want in my heart to go and educate every one of them, but at the end of the day, I have limited energy and I have to choose my battles. At the end of the day, I have to decide if the cost of a certain course of action makes it worthwhile or not. There are some principles I have that are worth fighting for and dying for and others that I could give up in the blink of an eye. Most are somewhere in the middle. But we have gotten very spoiled about thinking that we should all just do whatever the heck we want all the darn time and everyone else should just live with it and celebrate it. There is a lot of hypocrisy that I should do what I want but you shouldn’t do what you want because that offends me. I think it’s time for all of us to take a big kid pill and just own some responsibility. Public school may be a right, but that doesn’t mean it is a free-for-all right. There are all kinds of restrictions about what can go on in a public school, some of which I agree with, and some of which I don’t. But it’s the government’s party, and if you don’t want to dance to their beat, then play some music of your own. There are plenty of other options for education these days, and truth be told, they are mostly a heck of a lot better than government education anyway. If you feel you simply must must must go to government schools for whatever reason, then roll up your kids’ sleeves and consider it the price of admission. Sorry, I am anti-vax, but this is the stark reality. You can’t have your cake if it makes the government afraid to get smallpox (even if they are completely wrong). Let me know your thoughts…