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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order on Monday to ban any entity in the state, including private businesses, from enforcing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
Abbott called on state lawmakers to pass a similar ban into law ahead of the Biden administration’s rules that will require employers with more than 100 workers to mandate vaccines, according to The Associated Press. Several major companies, including Texas-based American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, have said they will follow the federal mandate.
“No entity in Texas can compel receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine by any individual, including an employee or a consumer, abilify commercial who objects to such vaccination for any reason of personal conscience, based on a religious belief, or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19,” Abbott wrote in the order.
Abbott, who is vaccinated and later tested positive for COVID-19, added that “vaccines are strongly encouraged for those eligible to receive one, but must always be voluntary for Texans.”
Earlier this year, Abbott banned state and local government agencies from mandating vaccines but allowed private companies to make their own rules, the AP reported. On Monday, he added his ban to the agenda for Texas state lawmakers to address during the ongoing special session.
The order will likely be challenged in court, similar to Abbott’s ban on mask mandates, according to The New York Times. U.S. courts tend to uphold vaccine mandates because they protect the broader rights of the public.
“I may choose not to get treatment for cancer, but when it’s a case of an infectious disease, your freedom has the ability to affect someone else,” Srividhya Ragavan, JD, a law professor at Texas A&M University School of Law, told the newspaper.
The order may also be difficult to enforce because the scope is so broad, the Times reported. Companies that operate in multiple states will have to determine whether the ban applies to them because they have some operations in Texas. Shortly after Abbott signed the order, for instance, Facebook told the newspaper that it was reviewing the order for its 2,000 employees in Texas but said “our company vaccine policy currently remains unchanged.”
The Associated Press: “Texas governor orders ban on private company vaccine mandate.”
Governor Greg Abbott: “Executive order No. GA-40.”
The New York Times: “The governor of Texas bars Covid vaccine mandates.”
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