Jessica Biel sparked controversy this week after joining activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. at the California State Capitol in Sacramento to speak out against SB-276, which would potentially limit medical exemptions for vaccinations. Kennedy shared a photo of the actress on Wednesday, prompting speculation that she shares his anti-vaccination views.
Biel, who has a 4-year-old son, Silas, with husband Justin Timberlake, was sharply criticized for appearing to support anti-vaccination views, which have been credited with causing measles and chicken pox outbreaks. Some used Timberlake’s own song lyrics (“it’s gonna be measles,” “I’m bring measles back,” etc.) to mock the former 7th Heaven star, while other critics accused her of rejecting science and putting children’s lives at risk by “spreading incorrect and dangerous information.”
But Biel’s Instagram comments also saw messages of support from those in the anti-vaccination community, with one mom thanking her for “taking a stand for freedom and children’s health.”
The actress is now trying to set the record straight.
“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,” the 37-year-old wrote in an Instagram post. While Biel included the hashtag for SB-277 — a 2015 bill which removed personal belief exemptions for vaccinations — it was SB-276 that she actually went to the Capitol to address this week.
“My concern with #SB277 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 #SB277.”
Many fans responded by thanking Biel for explaining her stance and clarifying that she is not against vaccinations. But for the most part, the debate about vaccinations wages on.
“Thank you for being brave and standing up on such an important issue that affects so many families across our nation,” read a comment, while one mom implored Biel to “consider all sides please.”
“This is the dumbest, most irresponsible stance,” added another commenter. “You’re perpetuating something that any doctor with competence has firmly asserted to be false. Such a disappointment coming from someone that so many look up to.
“And because of people like your friends child is why everyone else SHOULD vaccinate their children,” argued another critic. “There are medical instances where a vaccination is advised against and in order to protect those people everyone else who can be vaccinated should be vaccinated. I think the problem stems when people make uneducated and uninformed decisions about vaccinations. People need to understand that anti-vaccines is more than a trend, it’s a life-threatening decision that has the potential to affect thousands.”
“Don’t get involved in science you don’t understand,” a commenter added. “Vaccinations [are important] and you are confusing people.”
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