(ASSOCIATED PRESS) – A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging a law passed last year that eliminated Connecticut’s long-standing religious exemption from childhood immunization requirements for schools, colleges and day care facilities, saying the state has an interest in protecting the health of Connecticut’s students.

In a 33-page decision, U.S. District Court Judge Janet Bond Arterton said the plaintiffs failed to prove state’s decision to end the exemption was “motivated by any religious animus,” noting concerns raised publicly by state legislators about the growing number of religious exemptions being sought by families and declining vaccination rates.

“Connecticut has chosen to protect the safety of schoolchildren by requiring all students who may be safely vaccinated to be vaccinated, exempting those in grades kindergarten through twelve with existing religious exemptions, and this same interest is not advanced by an overarching religious exemption which jeopardizes the community immunity,” Arterton wrote. The decision was released late Tuesday.

The lawsuit was filed by the groups We The Patriots USA, Inc., the CT Freedom Alliance, LLC, and three parents of Connecticut schoolchildren. Brian Festa, founder of CT Freedom Alliance, said in an online statement that the plaintiffs expected the judge’s decision.