Actress Jessica Biel recently met with some 15 California legislators to discuss concerns about a vaccination bill and advocate for “parental rights.” Some of the legislators the actress met with have publicly supported the bill in question, SB 276, while others have voiced opposition to the legislation due to its lack of acceptable medical vaccination exemptions. Notably, Biel was photographed in the California State Assembly alongside Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an activist “skeptical” of vaccinations.
The news of Biel’s apparent activism landed her the “anti-vaxxer” label from the media, starting with The Daily Beast.
According to The Daily Beast, Kennedy would not confirm to the outlet that Biel, wife of superstar Justin Timberlake, was a so-called “anti-vaxxer.”
“I would say that she was for safe vaccines and for medical freedom,” he said. “My body, my choice.”
“Please say thank you to the courageous [Jessica Biel] for a busy and productive day at the California State House,” Kennedy captioned a photo of the duo posted to Instagram.
“Biel and Kennedy’s primary concern with the bill stems from what they deem bureaucratic ‘red tape,’ which they believe would force kids to receive vaccinations,” reported The Daily Beast.
“The biggest problem with the bill, which is something I think Jessica is concerned with, is that a doctor who has made a determination—if he has found children in this state whose doctors have determined that they’re too fragile to receive vaccinations—this bill would overrule the doctors and force them to be vaccinated anyways,” said Kennedy.
“She was a very effective advocate,” he praised Biel. “She was very strong and very knowledgeable. Extremely well-informed. An extremely effective advocate. She knows what she’s talking about… She’s upset about this issue because of its particular cruelty. She has friends who have been vaccine-injured who would be forced to leave the state.”
Though he rejects the term “anti-vaxxer” as “propaganda,” Kennedy is known for his activism against vaccines. “Kennedy has stirred controversy by writing articles and publishing books on the claim that vaccinations cause autism, a claim refuted by scientists,” Variety reported. “In May, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Joseph P. Kennedy and Maeve Kennedy McKean publicly stated that their relative ‘has helped to spread dangerous misinformation over social media and is complicit in sowing distrust of the science behind vaccines.’”
Biel also posed alongside a string of politicians, including Assemblyman Tom Lackey, a Republican representing California’s 36th District. “[Jessica Biel] came by the State Capitol yesterday to chat about parental rights,” he said, posting a photo of the two on Twitter. “I was impressed by her sincerity.”
Biel has since responded to the reports directly, noting that she is “not against vaccinations” but also supports “families having the right to make educated medical decisions for their children alongside their physicians.”
“This week I went to Sacramento to talk to legislators in California about a proposed bill. 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,” she wrote in an Instagram post. “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. Thank you to everyone who met with me this week to engage in this important discussion!”
In 2015, reports claimed Biel and Timberlake planned to bypass vaccinations for their son, though the stars have never confirmed the reports. “She feels that vaccination could cause complications,” a Touch Weekly source claimed at the time.
As noted by The Daily Beast, vaccination advocates claim SB 276 “will have minimal impact on those with valid reasons for exemption, citing medical authorities like the bill’s prominent co-sponsors: the California Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, California.”