Gov. Chris Christie has been vilified for making a very simple statement – that parents (and presumably patients themselves) should have the freedom to choose whether to vaccinate their children. I have been asked for years what I thought about vaccination, so let me lay out the issues. Before getting into the science, lets discuss the philosophy:
1. The voices shrieking to forcibly vaccinate people are the same voices shrieking to support a woman’s right to choose abortion under Roe v. Wade. If a woman’s body is sacrosanct, if she has the right to choose to deliver a child or not, if she has total authority over her body, how can she not have the right to accept or refuse a vaccination?
2. Medical ethics are clear: No one should be forced to undergo a medical treatment without informed consent and without their agreement to the treatment. We condemn the forced sterilization of the ’20s and ’30s, the Tuskegee medical experiments infecting black inmates and the Nazi medicine that included involuntary “Euthanasia,” experimentation and sterilization. How can we force vaccination without consent? Vaccination is a medical treatment with risks including death. It is totally antithetical to all ethics in medicine to mandate that risk to others.
3. Science is never “concluded.” Mr. Obama and other ideologues may think the truth is finalized (“The science is indisputable”), but the reality is our understanding of disease and treatment are constantly being updated. Just like Newton’s mechanical paradigm of the universe was supplanted by Einsteinian physics, and physicists today modify that view, medical “truth” is not the truth for long. In an attempt to quantify change in medicine, years ago a cardiology journal discussed “The Half-life of Truth.” cardiologists looked back in their journal at 20-year-old articles to see how much of what was believed then was still believed to be true. The answer? 50 percent. So in cardiology, at least – and in all of medicine to greater or lesser degree – only half of what we believe now will still be true in 20 or so years. The last word on vaccination is not in. It hasn’t even begun to be written.
4. If you believe absolutely in the benefit and protective value of vaccination, why does it matter what others do? Or don’t do? If you believe you need vaccination to be healthy and protected, then by all means vaccinate your child and yourself. Why should you even be concerned what your neighbor chooses to do for his child – if vaccination works? The idea of herd immunity is still based on the idea that in individual cases vaccines actually are protective.
5. If you think the government has the right to forcibly vaccinate people – for the good of society – what is to prevent them from forcibly sterilizing people, or forcibly euthanizing people, or forcibly implanting a tracking device – for the good of society? You make think those examples are extreme (although two-thirds have happened), but the principle is the same. You are allowing government to have ultimate authority over your body. More