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Dear Dr. Henyon,

There’s a saying: “Be careful when painting with a broad brush.”

While it’s true that I believe in individual liberty, parental rights and medical choice, I am not “anti-vaccine,” (a pejorative term used to insult another person and discount their knowledge.) I have five vaccinated children aged 12-26.

I did testify in several bill hearings last legislative session – on parental rights, privacy, compelling state and local agencies to follow the law, and keeping medical decisions between patients and providers.

We have seen significant interference and overreach by city/county and state health departments in a far range of areas, and not just in the past few months.

If anyone should appreciate the bill I worked on, it would be a physician.

• HB564 would have ensured that decisions made by a doctor, PA, or nurse practitioner must be respected by health departments.

• Providers who actually administer vaccines would have the power to decide when they were contraindicated for their patients.

• Health officers would have to stop violating FERPA laws by photocopying and removing student medical records from schools.

• Montana DPHHS and city/county health departments would have to follow Montana law regarding medical exemptions from vaccines and discontinue their practice of overriding physicians’ decisions and threatening parents.

This was not an “anti-vax” bill. It was a pro-safety, pro-privacy, pro-health bill. It passed the Health & Human Services Committee, and it was killed on the floor by the "solutions caucus," who, like my opponent, believe the government should be in charge of your health care decisions.

If a COVID vaccine becomes available, I will respect people’s choice to receive it and will protect others’ right to refuse. That is body autonomy – a most basic human right.

I am proud to stand up for health, safety and liberty.

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Jennifer Carlson