In our country, we uphold the precious belief that all people are entitled to worship as we please. It was founded on the principle that our religious beliefs could not be trampled by the tyranny of any government.
If I held the religious belief that the world was overpopulated, I would have the right to use contraceptives to prevent me from adding to this problem. If I held the religious belief that contraceptives were immoral, I would reserve the right not to use them. If I held the religious belief that non-organic food not only damages the earth but my person as well, I should not be forced to eat food I deem detrimental to my body or be forced to feed it to my children. If I uphold the religious belief that immunizations, as they stand, are harmful to my children, I reserve the right not to allow them to be given to my child.
I hold a deep conviction that God does not want us to purposely harm our bodies, for we are temples of the Holy Spirit. Years ago, I fully believed that immunizations were important and safe. I made sure I took my infants to their checkups and followed the recommended schedule. Now, my beliefs have changed.
When my daughter was 19 months old, she was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. It was terrifying to change her diapers and find them full of blood. It was heartbreaking to see her in pain. It was nearly impossible to force her to take her medicine that tasted awful, even mixed in chocolate pudding.
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It was paralyzing to read the literature given to me by the doctors that spoke of colonostomies, colon cancer and ostomy bags. My darling, brave baby. I did not know why she became ill, and I was not looking for anything to blame.
I did what I could to follow the doctor’s instructions, and eventually they changed the diagnosis. Now that she is a young adult, she has done an excellent job taking care of her health, but she still has days when she is not well. On those days, I still worry, I still lie awake at night, thinking of what ifs.
Several years after my daughter’s diagnosis, I had another daughter. One day, when she was 3 months old, much to my shock she had blood in her stool. Scared that I had another child with colitis, I immediately called her doctor. I was told to keep an eye on it, and it seemed to resolve itself.
Three months later, I found blood in her stool, but after a day it again went away. A few months later, the blood returned. I was finishing her diaper change, and my hand brushed against the lump in her leg, left from her shots a few days before. That’s when I became fully convinced that the blood was a reaction her body was having to the shots. Every time she had a bloody stool, it was shortly after her immunizations. This had to be more than a coincidence.
There has been no research proving that colitis can be caused by immunizations, and I have found only one doctor who completely agreed with my theory. My maternal instinct, however, knows that had I continued with my infant’s immunizations, it would have had detrimental effects on her health. I did not want another child to have to suffer the way my older daughter did.
On March 19, Sen. Jeff Tarte filed Senate Bill 346, proposing to enact stricter immunization requirements that would do away with the religious exemption. This proposal tramples on my religious beliefs that it is my husband’s and my religious duty to keep harmful things away from my children and out of their bodies.
I firmly believe that current immunizations are detrimental to their health and that as a citizen of our country and resident of our state, it is unconstitutional to force me to vaccinate my children.
Melissa Christensen lives in Raleigh.