San Diego student fighting vaccine warrant appeals judge’s denial of religious exemption
Lawyers representing a high school student who sued the San Diego Unified School District for his COVID-19 vaccine mandate filed an appeal after a federal judge denied the teenager’s exemption request.
The 16-year-old junior from Scripps Ranch High, identified as Jill Doe in court documents, and her family to challenge in a lawsuit that the girl’s Christian beliefs prohibit her from taking the vaccine because it was tested on stem cell lines derived from aborted fetal cells collected decades ago. Fetal cell lines are regularly used in the research and development of popular vaccines and drugs, including Tylenol, Pepto Bismol, and Sudafed.
The lawsuit claimed school district policy, which requires staff and students aged 16 and over to be fully immunized against COVID-19 by December 20, would violate the girl’s right to practice freely his faith.
âOur customers are opposed to COVID-19 vaccines because they have all been made or tested using aborted fetal cells,â Paul Jonna, an attorney for Rancho Santa Fe working on the case, said in a statement. “Our customers are firmly pro-life and refuse to benefit from vaccines made in this way, which they consider immoral, as do many other people of faith.”
On November 18, a federal judge denied the girl’s request for a temporary restraining order against the school’s mandate. On Tuesday, his attorneys announced they had appealed the ruling and are asking the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for an emergency injunction by Monday, the day unvaccinated students are expected to start on immunization process to meet district timeline.
Students who do not get the vaccine will need to enroll in distance education and not be able to participate in extracurricular activities like sports, a requirement that could mean missing out on chances for college scholarships, according to lawyers for the ‘teenager.
Lawyers also noted that while San Diego Unified does not offer religious exemptions for students, they are available for teachers. The district also allows unvaccinated students with medical exemption to attend school in person and participate in athletic activities.
District officials were unavailable for comment on Wednesday, but San Diego Unified Board Chairman Richard Barrera, who was named in the teenager’s lawsuit, said the district was not offering personal belief exemptions to students as families could end up abusing this loophole, resulting in low COVID-19 vaccination rates.