Federal courthouse in downtown San Diego. Photo by Chris Stone

A 16-year-old Scripps Ranch High School student and her parents filed a lawsuit Friday against the San Diego Unified School District to block its recently approved COVID-19 vaccine mandate for staff and students over 16.

The suit filed in San Diego federal court on behalf of the family — identified as John, Jane and Jill Doe in the complaint — states that the high school junior’s religious beliefs prohibit her from getting the vaccine.

The district approved a vaccine mandate plan last month, which requires that all students over age 16 receive their second dose no later than Dec. 20. Unvaccinated students 16 years or older will be required to take part in remote learning via independent study. The district’s plan allows for medical exemptions to the mandate, but not religious or personal belief exemptions.

Representatives from the school district were not immediately available for comment on the lawsuit.

According to the complaint, Jill Doe’s religious opposition to abortion prevents her from receiving the vaccine, as it alleges the three vaccines approved for emergency use, or materials the vaccines were tested with, used material derived from stem cell lines from aborted fetuses.

The complaint alleges that Jill Doe “must either abandon her faith or enroll in independent, online study at SDUSD.”

Public health officials have said that while fetal cell lines from decades past have been used in vaccine research and development, the COVID-19 vaccines do not contain aborted fetal cells. Fetal cell lines are derived from old fetal cells, meaning any vaccine relying on historic cell lines do not require, nor solicit new abortions, according to a statement from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

The suit follows one filed earlier this month by local parents group Let Them Choose, which alleges the district lacks the authority to implement a vaccine mandate. The group says the mandate is “unnecessary, unlawful, violates students’ right to in-person education and discriminates between persons.”

City News Service contributed to this article.

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