A western Pennsylvania lawmaker has introduced legislation that could strip doctors and health-care facilities of their licenses if they "harass, coerce, scold or threaten" a patient or parent who declines vaccinations for themselves or their children.
Republican Rep. Daryl D. Metcalfe of Butler County said in a memo that his bill is designed to protect Pennsylvanians who "exercise their legal right to delay or decline one or more vaccines for religious, philosophical, or medical reasons."
"I believe this legislation addresses a serious problem in which some Pennsylvania children are being denied medical care," Metcalfe wrote.
Critics in the Legislature called Metcalfe's embrace of "pseudo-science" dangerous.
“Today across the United States communities find themselves confronting outbreaks of diseases that we had successfully eradicated decades ago,” said Rep. Dan Frankel, a Democrat from Allegheny County. “These outbreaks are occurring not because the disease changed or mutated, but because people chose to forgo safe, effective vaccinations, putting themselves or their children at risk.
“In the face of these unprecedented outbreaks, what Representative Daryl Metcalfe is doing today - lending the dignity of his office to the pseudo-science of the anti-vaccination community - is irresponsible at best. The science and safety of vaccines is not in question, or in doubt. What is in question is why Representative Metcalfe would choose to lend his support to a cause that doesn't just put individuals in danger, but entire communities."
Metcalfe's legislation would fine doctors who "harass" or discriminate against against patients who decline vaccinations for themselves or their children $1,000 on their first offense. A second offense could lead to the revocation or suspension of licenses for both the doctor and health care facility.
The bill has been referred to the House Health Committee.
The Informed Consent Protection Act also forbids health insurers from penalizing doctors for low immunization rates, according to The Post-Gazette.