A subset of Missouri legislators care deeply about freedom. For instance: The God-given right to NOT accept a life-saving vaccination and still attend public school or go to work in a hospital. Also, the freedom to not be forcibly injected with a (non-existent) microchip device or a DNA-altering substance.
Lawmakers in the state’s House have advanced a bill (HB700) that would seriously weaken covid-19 vaccine mandates and restrict Missouri’s ability to respond to future pandemics. As a bonus, the would-be law also feeds into some truly bonkers conspiracy theories.
Language in the measure would ban public schools along with state and local governments from requiring any mRNA vaccination—including the covid-19 shot. The proposed legislation would also require all private employers to allow for broad exceptions to vaccine mandates. Effectively, anyone who wrote a letter to their employer asking to be exempted from vaccination would have to be allowed to skip it, per the bill. This would include healthcare workers, those who work in assisted living communities around the particularly vulnerable—literally, anyone and everyone.
In addition to those basic anti-vax provisions, workplaces, schools and government officials would also be barred from forcing the public to undergo microchipping or forced mutation. Specifically, the law restricts “any treatment or procedure intended or designed to edit or alter human deoxyribonucleic acid [DNA] or the human genome,” and “mechanical or electronic device[s]” placed under the skin.
Neither injectable microchips nor DNA-altering substances are part of any currently administered, FDA-green lit vaccine. However, the fake, fear-inducing concepts are prominent talking points among anti-vax conspiracy theorists. Some common threads among those who believe in the imaginary microchips are that Bill Gates wants to use the technology to track people’s locations via 5G (he doesn’t, nobody does, it would literally be impossible for that to go unnoticed, and we already have smartphones for that anyway).
Down the same tinfoil hat rabbit hole, you’ll also find many who believe that mRNA vaccines like the covid-19 shot permanently alter the human genome. They don’t. That’s simply not how messenger RNA works. The fragile, single-stranded bits of code carry information to immune cells that basically amounts to instructions on how to build a protein. Then, the mRNA is broken down within a few days. It’s like a disappearing IKEA manual for your immune system where the end-product is a useful bit of virus-fighting protein instead of an “Ektorp” or “Poäng”.
Regardless of these scientific facts though, HB700 has moved through multiple rounds of approval in the Missouri House. In the latest informal vote on Tuesday, lawmakers again voted to push the bill forward. It’s now scheduled for “third reading” before a final vote which would propel it into the state’s overwhelmingly Republican Senate.
For context: At least one in 256 Missouri residents have died from covid-19, per the New York Times. Death from covid-19 is currently the state’s third leading cause of death, after heart disease and cancer, according to the CDC. Less than 60% of the state’s population is fully vaccinated.
The bill’s primary sponsor, Republican state Representative Bill Hardwick pushed for a similar act last year, which didn’t end up becoming law. Yet he’s determined to see this measure through. He has said that people “lost their minds” during the coronavirus pandemic and that ending vaccine mandates is “the right thing to do,” per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Note: vaccine requirements for things like attending public schools have a long history preceding covid-19 and are widely accepted as good public health policy.
Hardwick’s other recently sponsored legislation includes a bill to put children as young as 12 into adult prisons and a measure to ban law enforcement and courts from confiscating guns from anybody—regardless of the threat they’re thought to pose to themselves or others. The man is clearly a true patriot.
And he’s not alone in his anti-vax crusade. Kansas lawmakers are also considering a sweeping bill to undermine immunization mandates. Idaho has taken it even further. Legislators there are considering making it outright illegal to administer an mRNA-based vaccine, per an ArsTechnica report.
Yet still, Hardwick is facing some push-back in his state. Most business groups are opposed. The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry has said businesses should be allowed to dictate their own vaccine policies, and characterized the bill as anti-free enterprise, according to the Post-Dispatch.
Within the state legislature, Rep. Barbara Phifer (a Democrat) expressed concerns that the law could hamper Missouri’s ability to respond to “the next pandemic,” noted the St. Louis local news outlet. More directly, Rep. Ashley Aune (D-Kansas City) described the pending bill as “absolutely insane.”