Jessica Biel has caused quite a storm online and has many accusing the actress of being an anti-vaxxer after she was photographed lobbying with Robert F. Kennedy Jr., known for his own anti-vaxx stance, against a controversial California state pro-vaccine bill. The bill in question, SB 276, seeks to require a statewide standardized medical exemption form to be used to limit those who would seek medical exemptions from vaccines. CNN reports that many parents are upset with the bill because it will effectively make it harder to have children who are enrolled in public or private schools to be exempt from standard vaccine schedules.
Kennedy posted a slideshow of photos of himself and the actress on Instagram writing, "Please say thank you to the courageous @jessicabiel for a busy and productive day at the California State House."
Biel was almost immediately criticized online, with many commenting that she was "canceled" and calling her out for being anti-vaxx. Many people voiced their opinions on Twitter after the actress posted a tweet promoting a new show that she will have debuting in October.
"Your anti-vax activism is an irresponsible use of your platform. You are responsible for the continued spread of false claims and lies AND for endangering lives. You along with everyone else will be held accountable for your actions by future generations (if there are any)" wrote one commenter.
Your anti-vax activism is an irresponsible use of your platform. You are responsible for the continued spread of false claims and lies AND for endangering lives. You along with everyone else will be held accountable for your actions by future generations (if there are any)— Sanghoo Lee (@lee_sanghoo) June 12, 2019
Others chose to use GIFs to explain their true feelings towards the actress, who shares a son with husband Justin Timberlake.
After being called out online Biel has taken to Instagram to speak out about the criticism she's received, stating she's not, in fact, anti-vaxx. She wrote that she does "support children getting vaccinations" but that she also "support families having the right to make educated medical decisions for their children alongside their physicians."
She went on to explain that the reason she chose to lobby against the bill was personal. "My concern with #SB276 is solely regarding medical exemptions. My dearest friends have a child with a medical condition that warrants an exemption from vaccinations, and should this bill pass, it would greatly affect their family’s ability to care for their child in this state."
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This week I went to Sacramento to talk to legislators in California about a proposed bill. I am not against vaccinations — I support children getting vaccinations and I also support families having the right to make educated medical decisions for their children alongside their physicians. My concern with #SB276 is solely regarding medical exemptions. My dearest friends have a child with a medical condition that warrants an exemption from vaccinations, and should this bill pass, it would greatly affect their family’s ability to care for their child in this state. That’s why I spoke to legislators and argued against this bill. Not because I don’t believe in vaccinations, but because I believe in giving doctors and the families they treat the ability to decide what’s best for their patients and the ability to provide that treatment. I encourage everyone to read more on this issue and to learn about the intricacies of #SB276. Thank you to everyone who met with me this week to engage in this important discussion!
Again, many argue that if Biel's dearest friends have a valid, medical reason for not having their child vaccinated, there is nothing to worry about. The bill doesn't aim to restrict children from not being vaccinated entirely, it is simply trying to ensure those who are exempt from vaccination for medical reason have a truly valid reason. As Jezebel reports, the authors of the study, state senator and pediatrician Dr. Richard Pan along with co-sponsor in the State Assembly, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez allege that “a handful of doctors in the state” are actually selling exemptions to parents who don't have valid medical reasons to be exempt.
Kennedy told the Daily Beast that Biel is "for safe vaccines and for medical freedom.” He added, “The biggest problem with the bill, which is something I think Jessica is concerned with,” Kennedy said, “is that a doctor who has made a determination—if he has found children in this state whose doctors have determined that they’re too fragile to receive vaccinations—this bill would overrule the doctors and force them to be vaccinated anyways.”
“She was a very effective advocate,” Kennedy said of Biel. “She was very strong and very knowledgeable. Extremely well-informed. An extremely effective advocate. She knows what she’s talking about… She’s upset about this issue because of its particular cruelty. She has friends who have been vaccine-injured who would be forced to leave the state.”