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HJR 5003: Jensen, Perry Seek Right to Refuse Vaccines and Masks

Republican Representatives Phil Jensen (R-33/Rapid City) and Carl Perry (R-3/Aberdeen) would like us to fight out the vaccine wars on the 2024 ballot. They have proposed House Joint Resolution 5003, which would effectively outlaw any vaccine requirement or mask mandate.

HJR 5003 is broader than vaccines and masks. Jensen and Perry propose adding to Article 6, South Dakota’s Bill of Rights, a right to “refuse any medical procedure, treatment, injection, device, vaccine, or prophylactic.” (Of course, Jensen and Perry will not allow women to refuse to undergo childbirth.)

This new constitutional right would specify that such a refusal “may not be questioned or interfered with in any manner.” This clause would appear to prevent doctors from offering refusing patients any information that might change their minds. If a patient learns he has cancer and says immediately, “I don’t want any chemo or radiation or anything else. I just want to die,” the doctor could not say, “Are you sure about that? We have new treatments that don’t cause side effects as bad as they used to. Can I tell you about them and see if you’ll reconsider?”

HJR 5003 would prohibit any different treatment of people who refuse medical procedures: “A person’s rights under the law, including in public accommodations, may not be abridged or denied because the person exercised the right under this section.” Obviously, that means no employer could require employees to get shots for various diseases. No business could require customers to wear masks to prevent the spread of respiratory diseases. And no school could require kids to gets shots of measles before accessing their constitutional right to a free public education.

Representatives Jensen and Perry are turning freedom into pathology. As happened throughout the coronavirus pandemic, these conservatives are letting their ideology blind them to simple public health measures that make modern living sustainable. It’s one thing to exercise one’s right to decline medical treatment for a malady that afflicts oneself but poses no threat to one’s neighbors. It’s another to enshrine as a right one’s ability to ignore sensible medical advice, flaunt safe and effective preventative measures, and put friends and neighbors at risk of sickness and death. There is certainly a debate to be had about vaccine requirements, mask mandates, and other public health measures. Each disease, each pandemic, each public health threat may result in a different consensus based on different scientific facts about what balance we must strike between personal autonomy and public welfare. But that balance will not be found in the pathological absolute that Jensen and Perry prescribe in HJR 5003.

House State Affairs hears HJR 5003 tomorrow, Wednesday, January 25, at 7:45 a.m. in Capitol Room 414. If HJR 5003 survives committee scrutiny and passes both House and Senate, voters would decide its fate (and perhaps the fate of thousands of people currently alive because of sensible public health requirements) on the November 2024 general election ballot.


  1. larry kurtz 2023-01-24 06:51

    Good. The faster all the Republicans die the better.

  2. Mark Anderson 2023-01-24 07:18

    Larry has it down. Repubs are dying like flies in Florida under DeSantis the death dealer.

  3. sx123 2023-01-24 07:21

    These blanket proposed laws are dangerous and caveman thinking. Freedumb on display here.

  4. cibvet 2023-01-24 07:47

    I’m fine with these morons dying off, but the problem I see is having to help pay for their hospital care before they take their last breath.
    If they are unvaccinated, the medical care institutions should be allowed to deny care to make room for those who are vaccinated.

  5. Francis Schaffer 2023-01-24 07:59

    If some are opposed to vaccines, maybe they should go through the process of removing all their prior vaccines? They can let us know that works.

  6. Richard Schriever 2023-01-24 08:58

    SD being a right to work state, that means any employer could fire any employee for refusing to be healthy.

  7. Richard Schriever 2023-01-24 09:05

    This is a (maybe not entirely consciously deliberate) way of maybe forcing “the libs” to spend time and $$ fighting against this lunacy on a ballot rather to fighting FOR sensible and popular things like abortion rights, cannabis legality, untaxing food, and so on. The “conservatives” throwing crap against the ballot wall to keep us busy cleaning it up. Then ponder the proposal to limit the number of ballot measures. Sure, in SD the people can decide directly, but only on what we will let them decide on.

  8. larry kurtz 2023-01-24 09:43

    In my home state of South Dakota the Republican governor chose to infect thousands with the Trump Virus putting its entire population at risk. Kristi Noem’s biological war on her own constituents has created dire circumstances sending nurses out of state, forcing people over 65 into the workplace and driving the closure of nursing homes.

    Without butts in the pews the Rapid City Diocese even received almost $400,000 in aid from the Trump Organization but it was too little, too late according to President Paula Langteau at Presentation College in Aberdeen.

    “We streamlined leadership, renegotiated vendor contracts, reduced operating budgets, really brought down our budgets to about two and a half million dollars – and things were starting to look better, our accounts payable was up to date. Things were turning around,” Langteau said. “At that time, as you know, COVID hit. That was the spring of 2020. That has been devastating for our institution.”

  9. 96Tears 2023-01-24 09:48

    No doubt the Hillsdale Political Editors will nix any mention of Noem’s biological war on her own constituents and the stupidity of Republicans in the legislature supporting this murderous legislation. Hillsdale will make sure that Taliban Republicans will be the hero of their every story.

  10. Donald Pay 2023-01-24 09:53

    These folks are solidly for “right to death.” I am, too. If your time is up, your time is up. It’s fine with me that people try to extend their life beyond what it would be without medical intervention, but I’ve always thought that such life extending interventions are best done for younger people. If I get something now at 71 that will kill me, I think I will just accept that’s my fate.

    If they confined their Joint Resolution to that sort of end-of-life decision that’s fine. However, I have a problem when people can breathe their germs on others, however, infect them, and then claim some sort of moral superiority because their “freedom” overrules my “right to life.” If I die, I’d prefer it be because of something wrong with me, not because some dumb anti-social a-hole refuses to take reasonable precautions.

    If I get Covid, I’m going to go to my nearest Republican meeting and cough and sneeze all over those folks, just to make sure a good proportion of those bastards die.

  11. Loren 2023-01-24 09:59

    Are we trying to be the Mississippi of the north? Meth, are they on it? I tend to agree with some of the previous sentiments that, if you show up at the hospital with symptoms that could have been prevented or lessened, you don’t get treatment until you show proof of vaccination. You want freedumb, treat it yourself. I hear hydroxychloroquine and bleach will help.

  12. Anne 2023-01-24 10:17

    For many years I worked in a court administration office. Some of the judges and attorneys referred to the moron caucus in South Dakota. The authors of this bill have displayed their qualifications for membership in that caucus. They seem not to know that it is already against the law to require a vaccination within the state. However, the statutes do provide for measures to control the spread of infectious diseases. (I typed up a manual on what those measures are.) They include screening, isolation and quarantine. A person who is unvaccinated and untreated may be a vector, screened, and ordered to isolate. The refusal to do so is a violation of law, and people who contract a disease from a known vector can sue the person and the state if it dd not enforce a quarantine order so that the vector could spread the disease. In other words, the state has a responsibility spelled out for public health, and Gov. Ditz seemed to put the state in jeopardy with Covid, As Mr. Kurtz points out, people within the state are still examining how it conducted itself in that regard.

  13. Nix 2023-01-24 10:40

    Dick Jensen is a huge Phil.
    Oathkeeper Jackwad.

  14. buckobear 2023-01-24 11:07

    Loren. – – we ARE the Mississippi of the north.

  15. JO 2023-01-24 11:10

    What would you prefer your child, family member or the general public to die from? Polio? Measles, mumps, rubella? COVID? Meningitis, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), Hepatitis B? I didn’t know our SD legislators were experts in the field of immunity that vaccines provide. Remember what the childhood death rate was before vaccines? I imagine the average IQ of our representatives hoover less than 100 or much less.

  16. O 2023-01-24 11:21

    Is there NO line that I am required not to cross, that my actions should be required to be curbed, to protect the health and safety of others (except to have an abortion)? Public health does not exist in philosophy of the freedom caucus. I grow tired of protecting these fools from themselves.

  17. All Mammal 2023-01-24 13:15

    They might as well include their freedom to rape and knock any womban and girl up because it is their god-given freedom to populate SD with theirn. They own every womban and shall do what they please with it. They’re too skittish to get a jab but females be damned if she doesn’t want their pathetic jab, followed by a lifetime of bondage.

    I am with Mr. Pay. Kamikaze as many of those inbred killers as possible. That is patriotic. Get Covid and join the GOP.

  18. Arlo Blundt 2023-01-24 13:20

    An absolutely nutty proposal which will probably pass. Is there no sanity in the Legislature???

  19. sx123 2023-01-24 17:09

    Does this mean I can run through the grocery store completely naked now?

    And I can also remove those pesky buffet sneeze guards? And I can reuse my plate?


  20. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2023-01-24 17:58

    The problem is, Larry, the Republicans will take a lot of us sensible scientific patriots and our kids with them.

  21. larry kurtz 2023-01-24 18:01

    It looks like all the voices in Pat Powers’ head are enmeshed in this like a writhing mess of hogs fighting over slop.

  22. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2023-01-24 18:02

    Cibvet, interesting proposal on allowing health care providers to prioritize sensible vaccinated patients and make unvaccinated freedom-absolutists with no sense of community obligation wait. I’m not sure the Hippocratic Oath will allow doctors to do such a thing unless they are in a triage situation. And if we consider hospitals and clinics to be public accommodations, HJR 5003 would ban doctors and nurses from discriminating against anti-vaxxers.

    HJR 5003 is just one more plank in the Republican effort to segregate America. They want to drive sensible people out of states like South Dakota. They want to capture as many states as possible with majorities like Jensen and Perry so they can maintain a perpetual majority in the Senate, prevent any reform of the Electoral College, maintain their unfair advantage in Presidential elections, and control judicial nominations to ensure that the courts don’t throw out boneheaded and anti-social legislation like HJR 5003.

  23. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2023-01-24 18:05

    Excellent point, Donald: Jensen and Perry value liberty more than life when we’re talking about requiring them to get shots and wear masks, but they value life over liberty when we’re talking about requiring women to carry unwanted pregnancies to term.

  24. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2023-01-24 18:07

    SX, yes, please, keep thinking of examples of restrictions on personal freedom that we impose for the common good. Maybe we can get Jensen and Perry to draft a more comprehensive defense of absolute freedom instead of this narrow bill aimed at their pet peeve.

  25. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2023-01-24 18:09

    Remarkably, right after I wrote this blog post, NPR broadcast this interview with diplomat Richard Haass about his new book, The Bill of Obligations. Says Haass, “If everybody just focuses on his or her rights, then there’s no room for compromise because rights very quickly become absolute. Your right to hold guns as opposed to someone else’s right to safety. Your right not to get vaccinated or wear a mask, someone else’s right for public health. A woman’s right to choose. The rights of the unborn. And I also thought we were losing the idea that we had some obligations both to one another as citizens and to our country.”

  26. scott 2023-01-24 18:41

    Is this a pre-written CAPC or ALEC bill that these 2 brains washed legislators just had to change a few words on to make their own? I’m guessing it is as SD legislators are just lazy and do not take the time to work on bills that actually help South Dakotans. I see there is a Drag bill in multiple states including SD, so that looks like a pre-written CAPC or ALEC bill.

    Healthcare worker shortage, educator shortage, nursing homes closures, worker shortage at the state penitentiary, worker shortage throughout state government, housing shortage, closing of a nursing college in northern SD, multiple country jail issues, state penitentiary that needs to be replaced, …. and our legislators just waste time on this bs. Legislators stand up and tell these right-wing extremists that want these wacky bills, they are a wack-nuts and it is time to stop all these silly bills!

  27. P. Aitch 2023-01-24 19:05

    Closure orders are clearly constitutional. The right to swing your fist stops at another person’s nose. With coronavirus, your freedom stops when it endangers others by facilitating transmission of a highly communicable disease.
    *Deep down your two MAGA’s believe that coronavirus was overblown by Fauci only to stop Donald Trump from being reelected.

  28. Francis Schaffer 2023-01-24 19:07

    I’ll start
    Seat belts
    Car seats for children
    Driving on the right side of the road
    Speed limits
    Driving while drinking
    Driving while intoxicated
    I am sure the remaining commenters can add better more thought ideas.
    Human cannibalism; oh wait, no law against that.
    Smoking everywhere

  29. leslie 2023-01-25 01:22

    When guys like Phil Jensen are enabled by guys like Bill Barr: “God have mercy!!” *

    The memo (1989 Bush admin.) appeared to have been used to abduct Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega and bring him to the United States on drug trafficking and money laundering charges earlier that year.

    Members of Congress demanded to see the memo. Barr refused to release it. Instead, he offered an account that he said “summarizes the principal conclusions.” As Goodman notes, that’s the exact language that he used in describing the four-page letter he sent to Congress in March upon receiving the Mueller report.

    Ryan Goodman—

    * (@ 2:10)

  30. Neal 2023-01-25 13:22

    It’s amusing (and completely unsurprising) to see that none of you have let the plethora of sudden heart attack deaths and huge increase in excess mortality in highly “vaccinated” countries dissuade you from your mass formation psychosis on this issue.

    The covid “vaccine” does nothing to prevent transmission. Absent that, you literally have no argument whatsoever that anyone has a duty to inject deadly, experimental gene therapy to satisfy your insane delusions.

    My body, my choice, right?

  31. Neal 2023-01-25 13:25

    “If I get Covid, I’m going to go to my nearest Republican meeting and cough and sneeze all over those folks, just to make sure a good proportion of those bastards die.”

    Jesus, Don, get help.

  32. leslie 2023-01-25 13:48

    neal, link evidence of your anti-vax claim pls!


    such links seem to cover denialists, humerously, pretty well in the past. expecting crickets response.

  33. leslie 2023-01-25 13:56

    Neal, Don’s comment is no more than the otherside of the entire ignorant lemming right wing response to Biden’s initial 70% vax goal you guys effectively scotched, leading us into a fourth YEAR of variants. Only the strong survive, eh?

    You can dish it out but can’t take it when the left finally decides to treat YOU like you have snubbed your nose to spite your face, at the rest of the GLOBE!

    Deny global warning too, do you?

  34. Donald Pay 2023-01-25 13:57

    Neal, you protest too much. I’m just following Republican anti-vax directives. That’s what these good Republican folks do to all the rest of us.

  35. e platypus onion 2023-01-25 17:17

    Be Hillaryous if libs got guns and removed anti-vaxx/conspiracy theorists from the gene pool. Why bother to wait for covid to do it?

  36. P. Aitch 2023-01-25 19:35

    Neal’s in self-denial. He’s stated that Covid was released just to get Trump out of office. But, beyond his radicalization the facts are undeniable to any thinking person.
    1. Think about the protection vaccination provides.
    2. For the month of March, “unvaccinated people 12 years and older had 17 times the rate of COVID-associated deaths, compared to people vaccinated with a primary series and a booster dose.
    * “Unvaccinated people had eight times the rate of death as compared to people who only had a primary series,” suggesting that boosters increase the level of protection.

    It is also important to consider the ages of those who are dying. People 65 and older make up the group that is both the most likely to be vaccinated (and boosted) and the most likely to die of COVID. (Being older is one of the biggest risk factors for severe COVID because the immune system weakens with age.) So when you separate the age groups, it becomes even clearer that vaccination reduces the risk of death. And because immune protection from vaccination wanes with time, and because some older people do not mount a good immune response to the primary series, being boosted reduces that risk even further.

  37. All Mammal 2023-01-25 21:22

    Cont. from Mr. Schaffer’s list:
    -set off mortar shells at 3:00 a.m.
    -pump my R.V. waste into the street gutters
    -let my goats graze in the city park
    -sell my homemade fois gras from the trunk of my car
    -have my Pantera cover band practice in my garage every Sunday night
    -test my military grade stink bombs at the DMV
    -set bunny snares along the bike path
    -live in my car out front of Perry and Jensen’s home and make a clothesline from my antenna to a light pole to dry my laundry

    So free, just like Cousin Eddie.

  38. leslie 2023-02-10 11:26

    Neal: “SARS-CoV-2 was not bioengineered—full stop.”

    “Because other novel coronaviruses with high pathogenicity or transmissibility could emerge in the future, it is essential that we develop a greater understanding of the diversity of this virus family in wild animals.”

    The meme of a China Virus is a demented ploy by a demented Republican Party to misinform the world.

    Cory said here, Representatives Jensen and Perry are turning freedom into pathology. As happened throughout the coronavirus pandemic, these conservatives are letting their ideology blind them to simple public health measures that make modern living sustainable.

    Phil Jensen is a mouthpiece for elements underpinning Republican Party obstructionism relying on unsound “evidence” which claimed “WIV scientists [Wuhan Institute of Virology] had conspired with coronavirus virologists at the University of North Carolina to produce SARS-CoV-2 (Fig. 2B). One of the authors subsequently proclaimed, in other media reports, that he was convinced that American biotechnology was likely responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic (18, 19).”

    Instead, “SARS-CoV had spread widely from its as-yet-undetermined reservoir into intermediate hosts, such as civets, ferret badgers, and raccoon dogs, and genetically diversified before it made multiple jumps to humans.”


    “Lab leak proponents suggest that an undisclosed progenitor of SARS-CoV-2 may have been passaged on human cells or experimental animals or genetically engineered for enhanced virulence. Some theories posit that not only is SARS-CoV-2 an engineered virus but that related coronaviruses of bats …have also been faked or engineered to cover up the role of WIV in starting the COVID-19 pandemic. A role of the Chinese military at WIV has also been proposed. Lab leak theories are often bolstered by racist tropes that suggest that epidemiological, genetic, or other scientific data have been purposefully withheld or altered to obscure the origin of the virus (9).”

    That “small but vocal group of scientists have taken up the SARS-CoV-2 lab leak cudgel as an opportunity to advance long-standing positions in opposition to virology research that they consider to be risky and criticize the NIH administrators who oversee virology funding (10, 11).”

    See generally,

    So THANKS (cynically), Phil and SD’s Republican Party. We have entered the fourth year of the covid pandemic, here, ever evolving with new variation, as virus does given free reign like HJR 5003 would enable, as a matter of very bad politics.

    I have so far, until now, avoided infection, taken every opportunity government and public health has offered at tremendous public investment, and now am assessing at least two long covid issues which I may be dealing with permanently into the future. Another in the household has since become infected and has a deep cough which may not go away, and now another young adult family member outside of the home has just tested positive. The oldest member, so far uninfected but at great individual risk, is walking the razor’s edge.

    But you do you, Phil, or die trying.

    Understand, Neal?

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