Tony Abbott To Cut Aid For Anti-Vaccine Parents In Australia

As the debate rages on over whether or not parents should face repercussions for refusing to vaccinate their children, Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced that Australia will taking a step against anti-vaccine parents that will undoubtedly cause a stir in the “conscientious objector” movement, reported the Canberra Times.

Tony announced anti-vaccine parents will be denied childcare and family tax payments that can amount up to $15,000 in extra income, after the beginning of next year. Abbott explained that the measure was being put in place in order to curb the growing number of parents who do not vaccinate their children.

“Parents who vaccinate their children should have confidence that they can take their children to childcare without the fear that their children will be at risk of contracting a serious or potentially life-threatening illness because of the conscientious objections of others.”

Tony’s plan seems to be discouraging the growth of such decisions about vaccination. Currently about 39,000 Australians seven years old or younger have not been vaccinated because of conscientious objection. Though this is a sharp increase — the number was around 15,000 only a decade ago — the vast majority of Australian are still vaccinated, 97 percent, according to the Australian Immunization Register.

Abbott himself was clear in his revelation that he did not believe there was any scientific basis whatsoever to support the anti-vaccine movement. The prime minister remarked that the government had a responsibility that supported its decision to cut the payments.

“The Government is extremely concerned at the risk this poses to other young children and the broader community. The choice made by families not to immunize their children is not supported by public policy or medical research nor should such action be supported by taxpayers in the form of child care payments.”

Though the measure still needs to be approved by Australia’s Parliament, the opposition also seems to be on board with the push back against the anti-vaccine movement. Children with medical conditions that prevent them from being vaccinated will not lose eligibility for the payments. They will also be checked much more frequently to make sure that parents are closely following the regimen. As for religious claims against vaccines, those who do not vaccinate will only continue receiving the payment if their religion has federally sanctioned objections, according to Tony Abbott, reported the Canberra Times.

Meanwhile, in the United States, anti-vaccine protesters have reacted in protest to a similar law proposed in California that would limit “personal belief objections,” reported the Guardian.

[Image via Dan Kitwood and Joe Raedle/Getty Images]