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The Honorable Greg Abbott
Office of the Governor of Texas
PO Box 12428
Austin, TX 78711
April 22, 2020

Governor Abbott,

We are seeking clarification of your stance on the issues of informed consent, medical privacy, and vaccine choice as they relate to COVID-19. The Republican Party’s stance on these issues is very clear, as is evidenced by their inclusion in the Republican Party Platform (see planks: 243, 251, 257, 258, & 259). Texans have worked tirelessly to make sure the platform continues to reflect these values that Texans hold in such high regard.

You have stated there are two key issues associated with the process of returning Texans to normal activities: COVID-19 testing requirements and COVID-19 vaccine policy. During the press conference on Friday, April 17th, you said:

“They will work together to develop a medical architecture to comprehensively test and trace COVID-19. That will enable Texas to gradually and safely begin the process of returning to work and returning to other activities while we wait for the immunization that will end the threat of COVID-19.”

Since then, you have repeatedly made comments asserting that life as we knew it will not return until there is a COVID-19 vaccine.

We need your assurance that:

  1. A negative COVID-19 test will not be required for Texans to return to work and other activities.
  2. The state will not mandate that any Texas residents receive a COVID-19 vaccine as a condition to return to work, maintain/obtain employment, attend school or childcare, or access state services.

Testing requirements would not prevent the spread of COVID-19, thereby nullifying any attempts to justify the violation of medical privacy on the basis of disease prevention. During the White House press briefing on Friday, April 17th, Dr. Anthony Fauci cautioned against the over-reliance on testing:

“The part about that that I think is often misunderstood is that if you get a [negative] test today, that does not mean that tomorrow or the next day, or the next day, or the next day, as you get exposed to someone who may not even know they are infected, that you will continue to be negative. Which means if you take that to its extreme, in order to be really sure, you would have to test somebody every day or every other day to be absolutely certain. That’s an issue.”

Although Texas has a strong history of honoring its citizens’ right to make medical decisions with the guidance of their chosen medical care provider without government intrusion, we are seeing an unfortunate trend of policymakers who are generally champions of personal liberties cross lines and take uncharacteristic actions. It is this trend, combined with your remarks regarding a potential vaccine quoted above, that have many Texans concerned over the policies the state may enact regarding COVID-19 testing and COVID-19 vaccination.

Considering the Republican Party Platform planks mentioned above, it is important for you to understand that Texans overwhelmingly support the principles of informed consent, medical privacy, and vaccine choice. What steps will you take to ensure that these rights are protected where the issues of COVID-19 testing and COVID-19 vaccination are concerned?

As we begin to see encouraging data indicating a flattening of the outbreak curve, we appreciate the efforts being made to move Texas forward. We believe this can be safely accomplished by enacting policies that both protect the vulnerable and honor Texans’ right to informed consent, medical privacy, and vaccine choice. Mandated medical procedures have no place in a free society.

We look forward to your clarification and to your consideration of our concerns as you move forward with policymaking decisions.

Sincerely,
Jackie Schlegel
Executive Director
Texans for Vaccine Choice

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