Vaccine exemptions: Anne Dachel interviews attorney Patricia Finn
Welcome to a two part Skype talk with New York attorney Patricia Finn. Patricia explains her work in vaccine court representing children injured by vaccines, and she advises parents seeking a religious or medical vaccine exemption in New York State.
Hi everybody. My name is Patricia Finn. I’m an attorney.
I’ve been an attorney for fifteen years. The minute I got out of law school, I hung up my shingle, and I was looking at constitutional issues, First Amendment issues, religious freedom things that were very important to me personally.
Right out of the gate I was flooded with requests from parents seeking religious exemptions to vaccination.
To be honest with you, I didn’t at the time know very much about autism and vaccine injury.
I knew about the constitutional issues involving parental rights… I didn’t know how big it is and how hard it would be—and it has been hard. It’s been very, very hard, but rewarding. …
I represent about 10,000 families right now. We’ve been very successful. I’ve brought about a hundred law suits in vaccine court for vaccine injuries, civil rights cases involving religious exemptions.
I’m a litigator, and I’ve cut my teeth. I’m here to help
“I’m going to talk to you a little bit about the school exemption process. What that means is, if you’re a parent, and you do not want to vaccinate your child, and you want them to go to a public school, … If your child is not vaccinated, you cannot participate in these programs unless you get an exemption.
“I’m going to talk a little bit about the exemption process in New York, which is a little unique in that it is highly exercised….There’s been a ton of litigation here in New York. I’ve brought multiple cases, and there was lawyer before me named James Filenbaum, who brought a very important case called Sharon Levy v. Northport .
[The judge’s] decision in Sharon Levy changed the complexion of how one obtains a religious exemption throughout the country, even though it was a New York case.
Judge Wexler basically said that—the statutes used to say you had to be a member of a religion … in those religions, there are specific tenets about not defiling blood and using prayer for healing over medication.
That was a very important case because after that ruling by Judge Wexler, you no longer had to be a Christian Scientist… What you had to do was to have sincerely held religious beliefs contrary to the practice of vaccinating.
And therein lies the rub.
…There are about 20 states in which you can get a philosophical exemption for vaccines. In those states you basically sign a form…and you get a vaccination waiver.
In three states, California, W. Virginia, and Mississippi, you can only get a medical exemption. And if you’re in one of those states, it’s unfortunate because, as you know, our good friend Dr. [Bob] Sears had given a medical exemption and he was prosecuted by the medical board for doing that. …
The reason I’m telling you that is, the medical exemptions, they’re not easy to get, and doctors do not want to give them.
In New York you have to have a specific contra indication to a specific vaccine. What that means is, your doctor just can’t write a note and say, this child has autism and therefore should not be vaccinated. You would never get that approved.
The medical exemption would have to say something like, this child has a yeast allergy or an egg allergy and there’s egg embryo in the vaccine and therefore you can’t get that vaccine. And it has to be renewed. …
They are possible, and I have done them. …
The bulk of what I do, and why New York is so unique, we really exercised the statute.
There’s been a lot of lawsuits, Judge Wexler’s decision 1983 is pivotal in redefining what constitutes religious exemption. …
After that I brought a couple of cases, and at first we were very successful, and then came the H1N1 issue here in New York where we were again successful.
After that it seemed there was a change in the tide here, and it just became harder all around.
New York is also unique in that we have the New York State Vaccine Coalition here, headed up by John Gilmore …a bang up lobbyist. … He is up there in Albany all time. …
If you’re in a state looking to organize the way have here in New York, you should really take a cue from John Gilmore…
We’ve been really aggressive here in New York in protecting the religious exemption. And the reason that’s important, because I think what happened in California is that because there was a philosophical exemption in that state, people were just easily obtaining the exemption, unlike here in New York where we were fighting all the time.
New York requires a religion test, and we’re the only state that does that.
What that means is you actually go in and explain to school officials why your religious beliefs are contrary to vaccinating.
It’s unconstitutional to do that. I think it is. We haven’t really seen too much litigation turn out favorably. I had challenged this statute as unconstitutional, and the Second Circuit, the highest court here in New York, said, no. That it was constitutional….It was constitutional because it allowed for a medical or religious exemption.
So my question is this: if you’re being arbitrarily denied a religious exemption because some school official thinks that your beliefs are personal and not religious enough, … If the statute is constitutional as written, it’s unconstitutional as it’s being applied. And that’s the role that I play.
People come to me to assist them in preparing statements of belief. In New York the education regulations require that a parent give a written statement setting forth their religious beliefs contrary to vaccinating. And it’s not easy to write.
Some people are very eloquent. Some people can freely quote Scripture. Others are just as religious, but maybe they don’t go to church, or maybe they don’t go to their temple or whatever. But it doesn’t make them any less God-fearing or any less religious.
And then the next step, which is another complication, [is that] you’re required to explain how your religion…means you can’t vaccinate. So typically what I’ve done, I guide people through their thought process. I give them questionnaires and I have them fill them out and answer the questions that I know the school officials are going to ask. From their own words I help them put together this statement that answers the questions. …
I do think there is a lot of prejudice that people think that those who don’t vaccinate are possibly causing risk to others.
Here in New York City we have evidence that the city was using a quota for granting exemptions. What that means is that say you’re at a school that has a particularly high level of exemptions, and you apply kind of late in the year, if those allocated exemptions have already been given out, …you’re out of luck. …
They pick apart these statements. They look for anything that contradicts it….
So in New York City we uncovered evidence that they were using a quota. That’s unconstitutional. …If you’re denying people an exemption based on a quota, then you have a problem. …
The other thing that we’ve uncovered here in New York, in New York City in particular, is that school officials are using a questionnaire. The questionnaire asks five questions. …But they don’t ask, when was the last time that you vaccinated. They don’t ask if you vaccinated and then stopped. Yet, they turn you down for precisely not answering that question. So they’re using a flawed algorithm. …
I don’t necessarily object to the use of an algorithm in determining religious sincerity because if it’s properly prepared, …it would yield the correct results. But in New York City what they’re doing is they’re asking you five questions and then they’re denying you for not answering questions they didn’t ask. …
It’s very important that when you draft your statement of beliefs, that it’s in your own words, that you explain your Scripture or your quotes…you have to really relate it to how it applies to vaccinating. Most of the people that I work with …their objection is that the disease in the vaccine, when injected into the blood, defiles the blood. There are prohibitions in the Bible from comingling animal and human blood, … and that doesn’t necessarily limit the exemption to vaccines derived from human fetal cells. …
That’s another thing I’ve noticed parents have gotten trapped on. They might raise this abortion issue with respect to vaccines, and then the school will turn them down and say there’s only one vaccine…that has human fetal cells….
The point I want to make, and you really need to understand when you’re doing the exemption, is that if you’re objecting to all vaccines, you really need to be clear about it.
If you’re objecting to the process and the ingredients in a vaccine, you have to be very clear.
There’s been a lot of really unethical history in the practice of vaccinating. A lot of the vaccines and the experiments began in Germany during the war, and the experiments were done on prisoners in concentration camps. …
Those doctors that were tried in the Nuremburg Trials, a lot of them were let out of prison right away and they were relocated here in New York, New Jersey, and West Virginia where you’ll find Merck, Pfizer, Sanofi Pasteur. So the history of the process of vaccinating is very, very troubling.
There’s also …stories about the rubella vaccine. I was told there was a facility here in New York where disabled people were at, and three women were impregnated, infected with rubella and forced to abort. That’s where that line of rubella comes from.
You may have a very ethical objection to the way a vaccine is manufactured, and that is something you might want to include in your religious exemption statement.
What I would recommend that a person do when someone is looking to get a religious objection to a vaccine, first check your state’s public health law. I’ll post on this. …Answer the questions that they want to know. How does your religion lead to your objection to vaccines. Is it the defilement of the blood? Is it the injection of the disease into a healthy body?
Jesus, when he ministered in Mark chapter 2, verse 7, talks about only the sick needing a doctor, not the healthy. A lot of Christians interpret that to mean there’s a big difference between treating a sick body and using a prophylactic vaccine. That’s a very important point. …
I have had the privilege of representing probably ten thousand families, and we’ve been highly successful in getting exemptions.
The breath of the religious practices that I’ve been exposed to it’s just amazing….
What I have noticed in all of them, at the end of the day, it’s all about love,…it’s about respect for yourself and respect for others. Some people believe that those directives, those principles are divine, that they come from God or a higher power, Allah. Whatever your spiritual guide is…
This whole process is to me so incredibly unconstitutional …I really don’t agree with it. I think it’s very dangerous in the United States of America that you are forced to explain your religious beliefs to someone who knows nothing about you or your religion. …
So when you’re preparing your statement, which generally in New York would precede an interview, you want to make sure your statement is answering all the questions that they want answered. You also need to know that they’re not asking you the questions that they want answered, and I think that’s subterfuge….
I feel very fortunate that I get to counsel young parents ...on what I’ve learned in this job that God has given me and to help guide them on a path by which omits autism, vaccine injuries, learning disabilities, handicaps that are definitely coming from vaccines. …
To me, this explosion of autism, regardless of the court’s rulings in vaccine court, one hundred percent [of] these autism injuries are linked to vaccines. …Now the question is, can you prove it, and I think we can.
We’re outside of vaccine court right now. …I have a very important case, one of the autism petitioners, he of course was denied compensation… He lives here in New York. He’s an adult now. We brought a case on his behalf looking to get a deposition of Dr. [William] Thompson and Dr. [Julie] Gerberding and a ruling and damages as to why Merck does not list autism as a side effect for the MMR vaccine.
I’ve been trying to negotiate with Merck and FDA during the lawsuit to get them to modify the vaccine insert to add these potential side effects. For Dr. Gerberding to be held accountable for what she knows about the research done in the Atlanta autism study. What happened to those results?
While she was at CDC, Dr. Gerberding had immunity. She is now an employee at Merck raking in millions of dollars, and yet…has not disclosed what it is that she knows about the link between vaccines and autism. …
[During a CNN interview] she basically restated Hannah Poling’s diagnosis. …Hannah Poling was compensated for vaccine-induced autism… Her doctor, Dr. Andrew Zimmerman, diagnosed and gave an expert report in Hannah’s case saying that Hannah’s autism had been vaccine-induced caused by a metabolic overload and vaccine-induced fever.
Dr. Gerberding went on …CNN…and said she had not seen Hannah Poling’s case. …She went on and she described nearly verbatim the diagnosis of Dr. Zimmerman in Hannah Poling’s case. Instead of saying metabolic overload, she said cellular deficit—same thing. That means the brain is not able to handle the vaccine.
She also talked about a fever. She said we know sometimes kids get a high fever. Well, that’s what Dr. Zimmerman said. He said Hannah’s autism was caused by the metabolic overload in a vaccine-induced fever. …Hannah received something like nine vaccines on one visit in July of 2000.
[This] is really infuriating because in June of 2000 the researchers from CDC and Merck and scientists from all around the world met at Simpsonwood Conference Center outside of Atlanta and they discussed Dr. [Thomas] Verstraeten’s study correlating thimerosal with autism or brain damage. And nothing was done.
The transcripts are telling. [At] the conclusion of that hearing, the lead doctor said, “Let’s keep this information out of less responsible hands.” And a month later, Hannah Poling got nine vaccines and regressed into autism.
A month after that, my client was vaccinated….and he regressed into autism. Had their parents known about the findings that the researchers hid at Simpsonwood two months earlier, it’s possible they would have avoided that injury.
The reason I’m telling you all this is to give you a flavor for what I do. …
I’m on the litigation side in the injuries, and I’m litigation side in the exemptions….Everybody’s telling me everything. I’m constantly getting information, and it’s coming from everywhere. …At the end of the day we’re a handful of people, and yet, we are so powerful and so effective that I think we’re about to make a very great change and hopefully stop this epidemic of childhood vaccine injuries.
The bottom line is when these children are maturing, and they are maturing now, we as a society are not going to be able to pay for it. How can you run a country when half the boys are autistic or unable to hold a job down? …
[In ancient Rome] the aristocracy was becoming infertile and they were shrinking in numbers… People were getting very, very sick. …
There were some scholars out there who said it was actually lead poisoning. The aristocracy was using lead in their makeup and their wine canisters and their pots and pans. And they were lining the aqueducts with lead piping.
It lead to the collapse of the Roman Empire and the Dark Ages that followed where people were living a lower standard, a lower quality of life. …I think at the time if anyone had realized that it was the lead, they would have stopped it. …
[Regarding the vaccine-autism link]
People have financial incentives or they can’t believe it that maybe they were wrong. Look at what Dr. William Thompson said… He said he can’t live with himself because he knows when he sees families with autistic children that he is part of the problem. He said that after admitting that he and his colleagues had destroyed evidence linking the MMR vaccine to autism.
Fortunately, according to Dr. Thompson, he has that evidence. He kept it. It certainly wasn’t in what was published, and I want to know what Dr. Gerberding knows. …It’s time for her to be called to the table and explain.
It’s up in the air right. …If the judge allows me to proceed, I can tell you I’m going to get those depositions, and I’m going to be able to prove what happened in that autism study. …Maybe it’ll be a wakeup call and people will realize that the vaccines are really causing more harm than good. It’s time that we get together and we do something about it.
You can follow me on Patricia Finn, I’m known as the Good Health Lawyer. I’m on Facebook, Twitter, InstaGram…. I have videos on Youtube. You can go to my website.
It’s best to reach me by email because I’m completely overwhelmed inquiries from parents of vaccine injured children and people seeking religious exemptions or help with medical exemptions. …
I want to be part of the solution. … If you have a [vaccine exemption] form and are worried about it, send it to me. I’ll look at it, and I can give you a general response.
Here is another interview I did with Patricia back in 2016.
Additional info on Patricia.
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