Some members of the California Senate welcomed Jessica Biel on Wednesday to discuss a controversial bill that would tighten medical exemptions for vaccinations. Biel joined anti-vaccine advocate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. who lobbied against the bill.
Kennedy posted several photos of the actress on Instagram, writing: "Please say thank you to the courageous @jessicabiel for a busy and productive day at the California State House."
The bill in question, SB 276, would require California's State Department of Public Health to develop a more streamlined medical exemption document for vaccinations. Currently, parents in the state who do not want to get their children vaccinated can submit a written statement by a licensed physician explaining why the immunization is not safe for their child.
The bill, introduced by State Senator Richard Pan, proposes that by 2021, licensed physicians and surgeons statewide must use a standardized medical exemption request form, and that this form becomes the only one accepted by the state government.
In an Instagram post on Thursday, Biel explained why she personally opposes the 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.
Biel said her concern with SB 276 is in regards to 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," she wrote, explaining this is why she spoke to legislators to argue against the bill.
Her fellow lobbyist, Kennedy, has argued that vaccines, specifically those containing the element thimerosal, may cause autism, a view unsupported by scientific evidence and dismissed as a conspiracy theory by experts.
Pan, who is a pediatrician as well as a state legislator, pushed back against Biel on Twitter. "Promoting misinformation that discourages vaccination defines being an anti-vaxxer," Pan wrote. In another tweet, he pleaded, "Will the 1% please stop trying to spread preventable diseases to the 99%?"
Public health officials say Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.and parents opting out of vaccinating their kids for non-medical reasons are enabling the resurgence of measles, which was previously considered eliminated in the United States. The U.S. is currently experiencing the biggest in more than 25 years, with over 1,000 cases confirmed in 28 states, according to the
Kennedy, the son of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel Kennedy, has argued that external factors, such as vaccines, were causing not only autism, but autoimmune illnesses, allergies and other conditions in children.
Whilemany so-called "anti-vaxxers" are against immunizations, believing these false claims. Other anti-vaxxers argue they have religious .
It is unclear what Biel said while lobbying with Kennedy at California's capital on Wednesday. In 2015, it was rumored that the actress, who has one son with singer Justin Timberlake, was not planning on vaccinating her child. However, Biel has not explicitly called herself an "anti-vaxxer."
Along with Kennedy, Republican Assemblyman Tom Lackey and State Senator Brian Jones also posted photos with Biel during her time at the capital. In a tweet, Jones welcomed both Biel and Kennedy, thanking them "for taking the time to chat about your opposition to #SB276." He also included the hashtag #NoOnSB276.
CBS News reached out to representatives for Biel and Kennedy and is awaiting response.