Last week, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott (below) announced that he would close the loophole allowing anti-vaccination parents to receive child care subsidies from the government. Beginning in 2016, conscientious objectors to vaccinations would no longer receive subsidies that were worth up to $15,000 per child.
There were exemptions, though. If you had medical reasons for not vaccinating their kids, you could still receive the money. Parents who didn’t give their kids the shots for religious reasons were also exempt as far as we knew.
Social Services Minister Scott Morrison revealed he is dumping the last remaining exemption on the books after holding talks with religious leaders.
Just a week after The Sunday Telegraph revealed Mr Morrison was scrapping exemptions for so-called conscientious objectors, he said that there will also be no registered religious exemptions in the future.
The religious exemption was in place since the Howard Government years but now it will also be scrapped.
“We have had further discussions with [Christian Scientists] and have formed the view that the registered exemption they have had in place is no longer current or necessary and therefore it will be removed,” he said.
The Christian Scientists there say that they’re not opposed to vaccines, making the removal of the exemption far less controversial. And it’s a good thing the loophole was closed, too, since leaders of an anti-vaccination group were encouraging people to join a fake church just to take advantage of the exemption.
Congratulations, Australia. You’re doing it right. When it comes to public health, people shouldn’t be allowed to put others at risk (not to mention their own kids) just because they think God opposes immunizations.
None of this is to say religious parents are forced to give their kids the shots; they just won’t get the government subsidies if they choose not to. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.