A Catholic high school student in Kentucky is suing for his right to avoid the chickenpox vaccine—on religious grounds, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Jerome Kunkel, 18, says the Northern Kentucky Health Dept. violated his religious freedom by telling unvaccinated students to stay away from Our Lady of the Sacred Heart/Assumption Academy in Walton during a chickenpox outbreak. The lawsuit says Kunkel objects to the vaccine "due to its being derived from aborted fetal cells." Jerome adds that "it's pretty devastating" to not play the "last couple of games" on the school basketball team as a senior, WLWT reports. His father Bill puts it this way: "I don't believe in that vaccine at all and they are trying to push it on us."
But the Health Department wants to keep others from suffering the fever, fatigue, itching, and blister-like rash that has already struck 32 at the school. "Without definitive evidence of immunity, a person could be a source of potential exposure, even if they are currently healthy," a department official said, per the suit. "It's impossible to know how anyone will react to chickenpox, therefore we must act with an abundance of caution." The anti-abortion argument against vaccines goes back at least to a 2005 Pontifical Academy for Life study that concluded Catholics should press for new kinds of vaccines, per ABC News. But "this important battle cannot and must not fall on innocent children and on the health situation of the population," the study says. (Read more vaccines stories.)