Bills to Watch: Restoring Religious Exemptions to Vaccine Requirements (LD 51)


LD 51, “An Act to Restore Religious and Philosophical Exemptions to Immunization Requirements,” sponsored by Rep. Gary Drinkwater (R-Milford), would reinstate conscience-related opt-outs to the state’s list of required immunizations to which Maine public school students, nursery school employees, and healthcare workers are subject.

This bill would effectively restore Maine’s law regarding mandatory vaccinations to its 2019 state, before the passage of LD 798 in 2019, and subsequent failed people’s veto attempt in early 2020.

It would affect areas of state law dealing with education (Title 20-A) and health care (Title 22), outlining that either parents of schoolchildren or employees of nursery schools and some health care systems, respectively, may object to the requirements of the state immunization schedule by declaring a sincerely held religious or philosophical belief. The list of immunizations is made through rules adopted by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

LD 51 also strikes a prohibition on DHHS rulemaking regarding medical exemptions, so while it would outline conscience-based exemptions, it would allow DHHS to create additional rules governing medical exemptions.

Read the full bill here.