ADF brief: Teen should not be denied citizenship for saying no to HPV vaccine

ADF attorneys represent abandoned Christian teen turned away by immigration officials for refusing Gardasil
Friday, November 06, 2009

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Alliance Defense Fund attorneys have filed a brief with U.S. immigration officials on behalf of a 17-year-old British girl denied permanent resident status because she declined to be injected with a vaccine that protects against a virus that can only be transmitted by sexual activity.

“Christians shouldn’t be forced to violate their faith in order to gain U.S. citizenship,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Joel Oster.  “Requiring a young girl to choose between her beliefs and legal citizenship is a clear violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which prevents the government from putting a substantial burden on a person’s religious beliefs except under extreme circumstances. She has met all of the other legal requirements for permanent resident status and has a loving home already in place, but the federal government would apparently prefer to return this girl to abandonment.”

Simone Davis lives in Florida with her adoptive mother, a U.S. citizen who legally adopted her in the U.S. after Davis was abandoned by her biological mother at the age of 18 months.  Davis, a Christian who attends a Baptist church, is opposed to being injected with the vaccine because HPV can only be contracted through sexual activity.

Although the law permits a waiver of the vaccine requirement based on moral or religious objection, she was denied the waiver because her beliefs do not include an objection to all vaccines and because officials claim her opposition is based more on medical reasons than religious ones.  The HPV vaccine requirement applies only to U.S. immigrants, not to natural-born U.S. citizens.

The brief in In re: Simone Davis was filed with the U.S. Department of Justice Immigration and Naturalization Service.

In 2008, ADF attorneys successfully represented a U.S. Coast Guard officer who refused to be injected with a vaccine derived from an aborted baby after the Coast Guard initially refused to grant a religious exemption.

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.