Attacks on Vaccine Exemptions Increase

Attacks on Vaccine Exemptions Increase

by Barbara Loe Fisher

As more and more Americans witness healthy children regressing after being repeatedly injected with dozens of doses of vaccines and becoming learning disabled, hyperactive, asthmatic, autistic and diabetic, more parents want to be able to make better informed, voluntary choices about vaccination. There is nothing like the first-hand experience of watching your child or grandchild regress within days or weeks of being injected with 5 to 10 vaccines and become a totally different child physically, mentally and emotionally, to persuade you to investigate legal avenues for avoiding more vaccines that could cause more harm. So it is not surprising that the Associated Press found that a greater number of parents today are seeking religious exemption to vaccination in the 28 states that do not allow a personal, philosophical or conscientious belief exemption to vaccination.,0,5771185.story

The vaccine safety and informed consent movement that was launched by parents of DPT vaccine injured children in 1982 has gained momentum with each new vaccine added to the mandatory list for school entry since that time. Primarily a grassroots movement powered by the educated middle class, where most successful social revolutions in technologically advanced countries begin, citizen activists are pointing out serious gaps in the quality and quantity of the scientific evidence supporting the cradle to the grave approach to vaccination adopted by government officials over the past quarter century. They are advocating that doctors be required to adhere to the informed consent ethic when administering vaccines.

It is this intellectual challenge to the validity of the science and ethics of forced vaccination policies that makes the doctors who operate and profit from mandatory vaccination policies so angry. They are not used to well informed, articulate health care consumers challenging their wisdom and demanding equality in making health care decisions for children. Angry that their authoritarian, paternalistic stance is not playing well in middle America anymore, some doctors are turning their anger into a desire for revenge.

While educated Americans challenge the scientific and moral basis for legally requiring citizens to use multiple vaccines throughout life, forced vaccination proponents like rotavirus vaccine patent holder and Merck consultant, Paul Offit, M.D., are leading an unprecedented assault on the philosophical and religious belief exemption to vaccination. Dismissing parental concern about vaccine risks as an "irrational, fear based decision," he and his colleagues want to socially ostracize and legally punish those who approach maintaining health and wellness in a different way and decline to purchase and use every vaccine industry produces and government recommends.

On September 15, Dr. Offit sponsored a "Vaccine Education Symposium" at the Children's Hospital of Pennsylvania which featured speakers such as Dan Salmon, Ph.D., who has alleged that exemptions to vaccination are not protected by the U.S. Constitution and should be eliminated or severely curtailed
(, as well as lawyers, vaccine manufacturers and CDC officials. At the symposium, discussions involved (1) requiring vaccination of all nurses and other health care workers as a condition of employment; (2) passing laws to facilitate prosecution of parents of unvaccinated children for economic damages when vaccinated children contract vaccine preventable diseases; (3) routine posting and publishing of lists of unvaccinated individuals in public places in communities; and (4) prosecuting parents who homeschool their children for child neglect if they do not vaccinate them.

The military approach to dissent is a risky one as it threatens to fatally compromise what is left of the sacred trust that exists between pediatricians and parents. But this approach has become much more common since September 11, 2001, when doctors and public health officials viewed that tragic event as an opportunity to aggressively promote vaccination and disease control as a matter of national security.

State mandatory vaccination laws have their roots in the 1905 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Jacobsen v Massachusetts. A Swedish Lutheran pastor, Reverend Henning Jacobsen and his son objected to a law requiring revaccination with smallpox vaccine because they had suffered severe reactions to the first vaccination. The nine Supreme Court justices at the turn of the century denied Jacobsen and his lawyers the right to present scientific evidence for harm caused by the smallpox vaccine, preferring to believe the lawyers representing public health officials who convinced them that doctors could predict ahead of time who would be injured by vaccination.

In the majority opinion, the Justices demonstrated a remarkable blind faith, bordering on religious conviction, in the infallibility of medical doctors and the safety of smallpox vaccination. The Court stated that "The matured opinions of medical men everywhere and the experience of mankind as all must know, negative the suggestion that it is not possible in any case to determine whether vaccination is safe."

Only briefly did the Justices address the issue of individual susceptibility to the potentially harmful effects of vaccination when they stated that mandatory vaccination must not be forced on a person whose physical condition would make vaccination "cruel and inhuman to the last degree. We are not to be understood as holding that the statute was intended to be applied in such a case or, if it was so intended, that the judiciary would not be competent to interfere and protect the health and life of the individual concerned. All laws should receive sensible construction."

Of course, in the succeeding 100 years since that Supreme Court decision affirming the power of the state to "keep in view the welfare, comfort and safety of the many and not permit the interests of the many to be subordinated to the wishes or convenience of the few," it has become clear that doctors cannot determine ahead of time who will be harmed by vaccination and that many more than a "few" have been injured or died from the effects of mass use of multiple vaccines in childhood as evidenced by the nearly two billion dollars paid to vaccine victims by the government since 1988.
An interesting historical fact about the fallout of the ethically flawed Jacobsen v Massachusetts decision is its citing by US Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendall Holmes in 1927 to justify the eugenics- movement inspired forced sterilization of a mentally retarded girl. Holmes agreed that the state could compel the young girl to be sterilized because "the principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the fallopian tubes."

Since 1905, the majority of states have provided for medical, religious and/or philosophical, personal belief or conscientious belief exemption to vaccination. Today, all but two states allow religious exemption to vaccination.
Since 1905, the numbers of vaccines recommended by doctors and required by state law has increased from one vaccine - smallpox - to nearly three dozen doses of 10 to 12 vaccines.

In the past, some states have required that an individual belong to a church or religion that adheres to a tenet opposing vaccination. However, when that restrictive language has been challenged at the state Supreme Court level, it has been struck down as unconstitutional (Sherr v. Northport-East Northport Union Free Sch. Dist., 672 F. Supp. 81, 89-90 (E.D. N.Y. 1987). Today, the exercise of religious exemption to vaccination usually requires a citizen to hold a sincere personal spiritual or religious belief that does not have to be tied to a specific church or religion. In some states, parents are required to either write a notarized statement and/or also obtain a letter from their spiritual advisor attesting to their sincere religious beliefs regarding vaccination.

The religious belief exemption is provided under the law for citizens who believe in a Creator and engage in prayer and may also consult scripture for guidance in making vaccination decisions which are spiritually based. Many parents of Christian, Jewish, Muslim and non-denominational spiritual beliefs, who already have a vaccine injured child, are engaging in prayer and consulting scripture for guidance in making vaccination decisions for their other children. It is important for the religious exemption to vaccination to only be taken by those who truly hold sincere religious or spiritual beliefs regarding vaccination.

The 18 states which allow philosophical, personal or conscientious belief exemption to vaccination are the states which come the closest to allowing voluntary, informed consent to vaccination in America. NVIC supports the addition of conscientious belief exemption to all state vaccine laws, such as the law in Texas obtained in 2004 by parents led by Dawn Richardson, president of Parents Requesting Open Vaccine Education (PROVE), so citizens without sincere religious beliefs opposing vaccination can exercise a conscientious belief exemption.

Although pro-forced vaccination proponents are promoting the demonization and punishment of parents who advocate informed consent to vaccination, including the right to take a religious or conscientious belief exemption, they do not have a strong ethical basis for their position. The genetic co-factor involved in adverse responses to vaccination make one-size- fits-all forced vaccination laws a de facto selection of the genetically vulnerable for sacrifice and that kind of government policy should not be tolerated by any state.

As more children regress into poor health after vaccination and more parents discover that vaccines carry far greater risks than pediatricians and public health officials have admitted to date, there will be a greater public demand for flexibility in mandatory vaccination laws. Paul Offit and his cohorts would do well to respect and acknowledge genetic diversity and the need for informed consent protections in mandatory vaccination laws rather than attempt to turn enforcement of those laws into a military operation. That primitive approach will not survive the test of time.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Barbara

I agree whole heartedly with your views on the contentious issue of childhood vaccinations. I am particularly interested in the hardline approach that the pro-vaccine group considers necessary in order to get full compliance, especially the "passing laws to facilitate prosecution of parents of unvaccinated children for economic damages when vaccinated children contract vaccine preventable diseases; and routine posting and publishing of lists of unvaccinated individuals in public places in communities;".

This is analogous to forcing parents of children who eat a highly processed, high fat, high sugar diet to pay for all of the medical costs should they suffer the ill effects of such a choice. After all, these parents are going against the common good and current medical knowledge by feeding their children this way and making all the rest of us pay the bill, aside from the fact that their food choices might be adversely affecting my child's choice of healthful food. Or forcing the parents of a child allowed to drive the car, a known lethal weapon, to pay for all of the medical costs should there be an accident. After all, the parents could have made the wiser choice to not allow the child to get a license in the first place and then everyone is safer, including the child.

If they want to post lists of unvaccinated people in communities, we should also post lists of people who just got their license including the license plate as they are inexperienced and potentially dangerous; people who smoke so we can avoid them for our own good; people who are on anti-depressants or antihistamines because we should question whether they should be driving, looking after our children, coaching or teaching our children; people who don't exercise enough because they are potentially going to cost us all more in medical bills due to obesity, etc. I am sure I could think of others, but my brain is tired!

Life is full of choices and these should not be legislated. Rather, education first followed by informed consent.

Dr. Moira Drosdovech