House Judiciary hears bill to prevent vaccine status discrimination

HELENA, Mont. - A bill is advancing in the Montana Legislature that wants to make it so businesses cannot refuse you service based on whether you have gotten a vaccine.

It is a full sprint to the finish in Helena ahead of the bill transmittal deadline. Now, this bill would also prohibit the use of "immunity passports" if signed into law.

Now the bill's supporters say this is an expansion of privacy rights for Montanans while protecting medical freedoms. One supporter of the bill expressed outrage at the way her personal experiences have impacted her when she goes to a medical clinic.

"All of the screening that they do as you go to a medical clinic is done without our permission,” Carolyn Truscott said. “There's no option to refuse it. Our medical privacy is invaded for what, so we can get access to medical care? It’s insane."

Various opponents of the bill testified that existing exemptions already protect people who do not wish to get vaccines. Representatives for different medical organizations across the state also expressed concerns if their team members do not have immunity to communicable diseases.

"It is, however, very important that healthcare facilities are able to confirm vaccine status of team members by use of an immunity passport system which provides documentation, digital record or software application indicating that a person is immune to a disease," Heather O’Hara, vice president of the Montana Hospital Association said.

Now with the House Judiciary Committee working quickly to get these bills through the process, they passed the bill on a 12-7 party-line vote Tuesday morning. From there, it will go to the House for a vote by the legislative body.

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