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OBAMA AND CLINTON ON AUTISM, VACCINES, RESEARCH

Obama_clintonLast December A-CHAMP began a campaign to obtain answers from all the presidential candidates to our autism issues questionnaire. We have received responses so far from Senators Obama, Clinton, Biden and Dodd. Below are the responses for Senators Obama and Clinton. We hope this will be useful in helping voters decide who to vote for in upcoming primaries and caucuses. We will continue our efforts to get responses for Senator McCain and Governor Huckabee.

The responses below are unedited. Senator Obama's response is presented first because he returned his answers before Senator Clinton.

If this is useful to you, please help A-CHAMP in our work. We are 100% volunteer organization and we survive on the generosity of people like you. You can donate HERE.

Thank you.

Please vote and please distribute this information widely.

Senator Obama's Response to the A-CHAMP Autism Issues Questionnaire

Will you fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act?

As a member of the Illinois State Legislature I fought to support special education and as a U.S. Senator I have continued that fight. As president, I will fully fund IDEA so that we provide children with the support they need to receive a free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment based upon best practices and with the goal of fully including them in schools and the community. As the number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) increases, we must ensure that teachers, classrooms and school districts are prepared to meet their special needs.

Do you believe that the Combating Autism Act provides enough money to find the cause, or causes, of autism and effective treatments?

I supported the Combating Autism Act of 2006. It was a good start. As President I will make sure that money appropriated by Congress for autism spectrum disorders reaches the organizations and people that they were intended for. Research is important but it is only one of the steps we need to take. Americans with ASD should be supported throughout the lifespan. Early diagnosis and early intervention has been proven to lessen the amount and
intensity of services Americans with ASD need as they grow older. We must appropriate the funds needed to support all Americans with disabilities. As president, I will go beyond the Combating Autism Act to develop a comprehensive autism policy that invests $1 billion annually by the end of my first term in office to address ASD on all fronts. I will also ensure that all federal efforts to combat ASD are coordinated through a central Federal ASD
Coordinator who will work across agencies to better coordinate ASD research, awareness, treatment, and support for families.

How much funding will you request to study potential environmental triggers of autism?

There is much evidence to suggest that ASD is a genetically-based neurological condition with environmental triggers. As president, I will lead an effort to conduct research to confirm these findings and study the potential triggers. We must find out why many Americans have ASD and other special needs, the causes, and best treatments and intervention.

Do you believe there is an autism epidemic in the United States?

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is the fastest growing developmental disorder in the United Sates and, perhaps the world.. One in 150 children is diagnosed with ASD. These numbers can not be explained solely by increased awareness or changes to the diagnostic criteria. It is a health crisis and I will act accordingly. There are many Americans with special needs. They will have a partner in the federal government under my administration.

What will you do to stop health insurers from discriminating against people with autism and their families?

Many parents and state legislatures have led the fight to prevent medical insurance companies from delaying and denying coverage to those with ASD, claiming it as a preexisting condition. Because of this, too many Americans with special needs and their families have struggled with a crushing financial burden. Many Americans have tried to
do something about this, and I applaud their efforts. In South Carolina, for example, parents Marcella Ridley and Lorri Unumb and state senators Joel Lurie (D) and David Thomas (R) led the way in passing Ryan's Law, which ensured that children with ASD would get the treatments they need. Of course, after we create universal health care by the end of my first term as president, all Americans with ASD will have access to affordable and quality health care, regardless of “preexisting” conditions.

What will you do to assure that health insurers pay for promising new treatments and behavioral therapy?

As president I will work to create universal health care by the end of my first term so that all Americans have access to affordable health care. My health care plan will also improve the quality of care available to Americans anduphold the principle of mental health parity. I will also work to bring Americans with ASD, their families and experts together to deal with important issues, like standardization of treatments, diagnostics, screening, and support
for promising new treatments and therapy.

Do you think vaccines should be investigated as a possible cause of autism?

I believe that the next president must restore confidence and open communication with the American people. This includes environmental policies and government funded research. An Obama administration will go where the science and the facts lead us, whether it is about climate change or toxic heavy metals in our environment.

What will you do to protect Americans, especially young children and pregnant women, from exposure to mercury through vaccines?

I support the removal of thimerosal from all vaccines and work to ensure that Americans have access to vaccines that are mercury free.

What will you do to provide for the lifetime care that 250,000 to 500,000 current children with autism will need in the future?

ASD is not just a medical issue nor a children's issue. ASD affects behavior, communication and socialization and means that Americans with ASD will have a lifetime struggle to fully integrate within the community. However, the nation must also work to recognize the valued role that Americans with special needs have within our communities. Americans with special needs must be supported throughout their lifetimes. As President, I will work with the special needs community to ensure that those with ASD acquire the skills and education they need, achieve to their fullest capabilities and live the independent life of a full citizen in their community. I will support programs that create opportunities, improve the quality of life and maximize potential for all individuals with ASD and their
families.

Would you support a large-scale federal study of the differences in health outcomes between vaccinated and unvaccinated groups?

Experience has taught that effective medical research must be "large-scale" and well funded. I believe Americans should know must know the health effects that caused by the presence of mercury in vaccines. I will also support an examination of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation program, a program designed to compensate those injured by vaccinations.

Would you support a federal right for families and individuals to choose for themselves which vaccines they will use?

I support screening for a wide variety of diseases and disorders. Early diagnosis and early intervention are the best practice for most illnesses. I believe that every American has the right to access these screenings, and I believe that every American has the right also to refuse these screenings voluntarily if they so choose. I also support a thorough
and independent review of our nation’s vaccination policies.

Are you satisfied that the federal vaccine approval process is free of conflicts of interests, transparent and rigorous?

As President, I will conduct a thorough examination of all federal programs to ensure that they are effective and operating in the best interests of the American people. And I will ensure that sound and unbiased science, not ideology, guides decisions made in my administration.

Senator Clinton’s response to the A_CHAMP Presidential Candidate’s Questionnaire

Will you fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act?

Yes. I support fully funding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Among my many
efforts to fully fund IDEA, I co-sponsored the IDEA Full-Funding Act of2003 to finally fulfill
the federal government's long-standing promise to provide for 40 percent ofthe average per
pupil expenditure for each and every child with a disability. In 2005, I offered an amendment to provide $4 billion in additional funding for IDEA; the amendment failed by a narrow margin. I have been an advocate for people with disabilities throughout my career in public service.

After graduating from law school in 1973, I went to work for Marian Wright Edelman at the Children's Defense Fund, walking door to door in New Bedford, Mass., to figure out why there were discrepancies between the number of school-age children and the number of children enrolled in school. What I discovered was heartbreaking - kids were kept out of school because of their physical disabilities. We submitted our findings to Congress and our study helped lay the groundwork for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which mandated that children with physical, emotional, and learning disabilities receive a free, appropriate public education.

As a Senator, I helped write the IDEA Reauthorization Act in 2004 in order to ensure that we have targeted resources dedicated to teacher training. As President, I will continue my fight on behalf of children with disabilities.

Do you believe that the Combating Autism Act provides enough money to find the cause, or causes, of autism and effective treatments?

A key aspect ofmy plan to address autism, which I unveiled in November, is to fully fund the
Combating Autism Act, which the Bush administration has failed to do. Through this legislation, we can work to identify the causes of autism; provide funds for surveillance; and increase autism education, early detection, and intervention. As President, I will double investments in the National Institutes of Health's efforts to identify the causes of autism, including possible environmental causes. I will expand the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network and I will create Centers of Excellence in Autism Spectrum Disorder Epidemiology. And I will require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to disseminate infonnation about signs of autism, early screening, and training for professionals who deal with young children through federal programs that reach children and families - such as the Child Care and Development Block Grant, Head Start, and the Children's Health Insurance Program - and to pediatricians.

How much funding will you request to study potential environmental triggers of autism?

I am very concerned about the possible links between autism, the environment and other chronic diseases. Because there is so much we don't know, I not only support increasing funding for the environmental research authorized by the Combating Autism Act, but I've also introduced legislation - the Coordinated Environmental Public Health Tracking Act - that would enable us to link disease surveillance to environmental infonnation, and investigate disease clusters. This bill would provide $100 million to monitor the environmental causes of disease. I have also proposed to increase the NIH budget by 50 percent over five years and to double it over 10 years.

As President, I will provide a total of about $700 million annually to address autism. That
funding will go toward expanding research to identify causes of autism as well as creating a task force charged with investigating evidence-based treatments, interventions, and services; improving access to post-diagnosis care; providing teacher training; providing planning and demonstration grants for adults; creating a National Technical Assistance Center; and guaranteeing quality, affordable health care.

Do you believe there is an autism epidemic in the United States?

Yes. Today, one in 150 children rare diagnosed with autism, for a total of about 25,000 each year. In sum, about 1.5 million Americans and their families are affected by autism today. This national health crisis is costing the United States at least $35 billion each year. I have long been a strong advocate for individuals and families impacted by autism. I have cosponsored the Combating Autism Act and introduced the Expanding the Promise for Individuals with Autism Act, in order to ensure that Americans living with autism could have access as quickly as possible to evidence-based treatments, interventions, and services. When I am President, I will dramatically boost research funding for autism and support services for families caring for an autistic loved one.

What will you do to stop health insurers from discriminating against people with autism and their families?

As President, it will by my top domestic priority to provide quality, affordable health care to all Americans, including those with autism. My American Health Choices Plan will ensure that no one is denied coverage, refused renewal, unfairly priced out of the market, or forced to pay excessive insurance company premiums because ofpre-existing medical conditions or
disabilities.

What will you do to assure that health insurers pay for promising new treatments and behavioral therapy?

My American Health Choices Plan will make quality health care affordable to every single
American, including those with autism and their families. My plan will also create a Best
Practices Institute that would work as a partnership between the existing Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the private sector to fund research on what treatments work best and to help disseminate this information to patients and doctors to increase quality and reduce costs.

Do you think vaccines should be investigated as a possible cause of autism?

I am committed to make investments to find the causes of autism, including possible
environmental causes like vaccines. I have long been a supporter of increased research to
determine the links between environmental factors and diseases, and I believe we should increase the NIH's ability to engage in this type of research. My administration will be committed to improving research to support fact-based solutions, and I will ensure that the NIH has the staff and funding to fully explore all possible causes of autism.

What will you do to protect Americans, especially young children and pregnant women, from exposure to mercury through vaccines?

I will ensure that all vaccines are as safe as possible for our children by working to ensure that Thimerosal and mercury are removed from vaccines. I plan to fully invest in our research agencies so they can protect our children's health, and so they can find the causes and cures for conditions such as autism.

What will you do to provide for the lifetime care that 250,000 to 500,000 current children with autism will need in the future?

Individuals with autism need assistance in many areas including education, employment,
transportation, housing, health, and recreation throughout their lives. As President, I will provide support and resources to help them lead full, rich, productive lives. Under my plan, I will provide funding for a planning grant for states and a multi-year service provision demonstration grant program to increase access to appropriate services to adults living with autism, including job training, housing, and transition services for young people leaving school. I will also create a dedicated funding stream to help schools train teachers who work with children with autism spectrum disorders. With the autism prevalence rate among children now at 1 in 150, the need to identify and provide services for adults with autism will grow even more important in the coming years.

Would you support a large-scale federal study ofthe differences in health outcomes
between vaccinated and unvaccinated groups?

Yes. We don't know what, if any, kind of link there is between vaccines and autism - but we should find out. The lack of research on treatments, interventions, and services for children and adults with autism is a major impediment to the development of delivery of quality care. We need evidence-based research on what works and what doesn't in order to provide the most effective services for people with autism. In addition to a large-scale federal study, I will create a task force that would include significant representation from the autism community and would be charged with identifying gaps in evidence-based biomedical research, behavioral treatments, and services for children and adults with autism. The task force would present these findings to Congress and the Executive Branch and would make recommendations on how to make evidence-based treatments, interventions, and services available at the state and local levels. Once the task force has completed its work, I will provide funding to establish state-based demonstration grants to provide these evidence-based autism treatments, interventions, and services.

Would you support a federal right for families and individuals to choose for themselves which vaccines they will use?

As President, I will support efforts to ensure that vaccines are safe and effective, including
independent reviews and large-scale studies. All Americans should have access to accurate and comprehensive information about vaccinations.

Are you satisfied that the federal vaccine approval process is free of conflicts of
interests, transparent and rigorous?

I believe that we need independent, thorough, and comprehensive testing of all drugs, including vaccines, to make sure that they are safe and effective. I will ensure that the process of approving vaccines is based on science and research - not ideology or other motives. I will do everything I can to protect the health and well-being of American families.

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Hi, Zachary. I think your letter is terrific. And I agree with you - people with autism should have a voice in the debate. Sometimes we (meaning parents whose kids are unable to speak and self-advocate) forget that you can act as a go-between for us. We have a number of commenters with autism spectrum disorder (primarily Aspergians) and are proud to feature a young man in college with autism as a contributor. I'm so glad you shared your letter with us.

Merry Christmas.

KIM, Managing Editor, A of A

As someone with Aspergers I recently wrote a letter to the Obama Campaign on my thoughts on his agenda and Autism Speaks

http://www.aspieweb.net/letter-to-obama-autism-advocacy

Cindy -
AoA posted this back in March when it happened. AoA has posted quite a bit about McCain and Palin as well.

Why would post this partisan crap on the day of the election?

Where are McCain's responses??

So much for UNBIASED.

I think Obama has a comprehensive plan to combat Autism and to provide research, education, housing,for people afflicted by autism. He seems rational and reasonable about his plans to unravel the mysteries of Autism and to help protect our kids. Reading his responses about his interest and genuine attack plan to help and protect our children is listed here:http://www.typepad.com/t/trackback/2465202/26734894

So if you are a parent who has a two or three year old and have one more vaccination to get and your child has shown no reaction to the previous shots knowing what all of you know today, would you decline the last shot?

Your stories impress upon me that I myself could be on a very dangerous cliff.

I was led here as I write this after reading your heartbreaking stories as I am now in the middle of doing a small documentary for an advocate in the autism circles as her son has been diagnosed and like so many of you mothers, she leaves my jaw consistantly dropped in awe of her and all of your beauty, courage and strength.

Then I'm like wait, although my child or other friends of mine children are not currently intimately affected in our homes with a child that has autism, I must be here on this web page at this time for a reason and that is to learn something as most of you have mentioned a child who was fine and then the vaccination changed everything.

Suddenly my research for this wonderful lady is becoming about me and how to glean from your lives to make the best choice for mine.

So I humbly ask you as I wipe the tears from reading your stories... what should I now pass on to my friends? Are there shots in particular we should watch for or absolutely all are off limits. Then can someone explain how we'd get around the loop holes of schools and pre-schools wanting vaccination records before you can be admitted in. What if you say vaccinations no thank you are you then asticide

It's like you are almost compelled in this case to think you have to get it as we've all been told in some fashion or other that it is for the "safety" of our children and to not cause harm to other children you need to get shots for your kids! So you are like weighing your child's life in the balance not wanting to be rude to a system that hearing your stories seems so have crumbled and is now instead of as solution a culprit of injury itself.

For those of you who mentioned that your first child taught you not to vaccinate your next, were your kids in schools and do they accept unbeknownst to most of us shot opt out registrations into schools.

I ask as someone who wants desperately to learn what to do next and how to as you are all advocate to ensure the safety kids who have mothers who are like me and just like you, who are faced with the pressure of being a "good" mom who follows the rules of the land constantly pushed to get their baby vaccinated.

Yet if rules of the land become harmful to the complete future and makeup of our children and the family's lives who support them with the threat a fatal vaccination that snuffs the essence of their God given sparks then, how do we correct it in a way that then protects other Moms and their children yet not become a target for systems that demand that turn in proof of the very shots that harm.

Yet even in writing this it just hit me that while it may feel like a double jeapardy on both sides. The choice has got to be for the child's rights to the pursuit of "health" and happiness and education is something you could do at home if forced to gladly. As the former totally out weighs the latter.

Parents, please forgive my ignorance and typos as I just can not stop crying and want to make the right choice on what to do for the step I'm on now.

Cass

Where I'm disheartened is that nobody is willing to secure our exemptions. Am I reading that correctly? I want an out. It's great that Obama is all for screenings, etc., especially since it is starting to come to light that some children are more susceptible to vaccine injury than others. But I want to be able to say NO.

TO:
Posted by: Autism mom | 04/22/2008 at 02:38 PM

I don't understand your point....What are you saying?

"RE: OBAMA AND HILLARY...
If they can endorse the barbaric procedure of partial-birth abortion,
then they could endorse euthanizing disabled kids down the road at birth
and/or later in their lives. This latter possibility prevents my ever voting for them!"

karen, this squeaked past you. BTW, McCain retracted in a hurry after all the flak he received.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-kirby/obama-climbs-on-the-vacci_b_97969.html

Here is JOHN MCCAIN's Position on Autism.
http://www.johnmccain.com/content/?guid=24dc9c37-e739-4aa3-8a88-ebae650a2f11

The fact he IS Pro-life ASSURES me he would alwys protect and fight for OUR disabled kids without question!

RE: OBAMA AND HILLARY...
If they can endorse the barbaric procedure of partial-birth abortion,
then they could endorse euthanizing disabled kids down the road at birth
and/or later in their lives. This latter possibility prevents my ever voting for them!

I would ask Obama and Hillary if they agree with Peter Singer? -
The Princeton Professor Who Advocates Infanticide For Disabled Kids

http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2008/02/john-mccain-ent.html

"At a town hall meeting Friday in Texas, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., declared that "there’s strong evidence" that thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative that was once in many childhood vaccines, is responsible for the increased diagnoses of autism in the U.S. -- a position in stark contrast with the view of the medical establishment.

McCain was responding to a question from the mother of a boy with autism, who asked about a recent story that the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program had issued a judgment in favor of an unnamed child whose family claimed regressive encephalopathy and symptoms of autism were caused by thimerosal.

"We’ve been waiting for years for kind of a responsible answer to this question, and are hoping that you can help us out there," the woman said.

McCain said, per ABC News' Bret Hovell, that "It’s indisputable that (autism) is on the rise amongst children, the question is what’s causing it. And we go back and forth and there’s strong evidence that indicates that it’s got to do with a preservative in vaccines." "

Also, McCain adopted the Republican Main Street Partnership agenda item:

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) helps to fulfill the most basic mission of federal education programs—equal opportunity for all children. To help improve the federal role in education, the Republican Main Street Partnership has identified the following areas that should receive priority during the reauthorization of IDEA:

* Focus resources to help those with the greatest need, particularly the disadvantaged and disabled
* Target Title I funds, those specifically designed to aid disadvantaged students, to students with the greatest need
* Although Title I funds are already allocated according to population and poverty, more funds must be targeted to our neediest schools. We propose funding, for the first time, grants that send at least a portion of Title I funds solely on the basis of need.
* Increase the maximum award under Pell Grants to help first-generation & low-income students continue their education
* Increase the maximum award for students from low-income families to restore the balance between grants and loans, particularly among those with the greatest need.
* Continue efforts to increase federal funding for IDEA to help states and locals offset the cost of providing a ëfree appropriate public educationí for students with special needs
* Move federal funding toward its goal of providing up to 40 percent of the average cost of educating a disabled child.
* In addition, we need to better evaluate the effectiveness of this program and ensure that federal funds for IDEA—particularly in light of recent funding increases—are being targeted to our students with real learning disabilities.
* Finally and most important, any fiscal incentives must be examined to ensure that the overidentification of learning disabled students is prevented, and our efforts must focus on the regular evaluation of the program to ensure that our special needs children are truly being provided a "free appropriate public education."

Source: 2001 GOP Main Street Partnership Action Agenda for Education 01-RMSP2 on Jul 2, 2001

Do you think vaccines should be investigated as a possible cause of autism?

Hilary answers with more money to NIH
Obama answers with more money to environmental causes
McCain dittos Obama from town hall meeting notes

Folks - this is pretty amazing! Now if the new president just backs it up in office !!

"Would you support a federal right for families and individuals to choose for themselves which vaccines they will use?

As President, I will support efforts to ensure that vaccines are safe and effective, including independent reviews and large-scale studies. All Americans should have access to accurate and comprehensive information about vaccinations."

Clinton doesn't exactly answer the question, does she? Just supporting efforts to ensure that vaccines are safe and effective, sounds like what we got going right now. No where in this reply does it say that she supports the right for families and individuals to choose for themselves whether they want to be vaccinated or not.

still, in response to the vaccinated vs. unvaccinated study - they both defered to comparing kids vaccinated with thimerosal to those not vaccinated with thimerosal...so many of our kids have disintegrated after vaccination with live vaccines (MMR, cp) which do not contain mercury. I don't want anymore comparisons of kids receiving 29 vaccines or x amount of mercury to kids receiving 10 vaccines with x amount of mercury. Sounds like more of the same to me. I want a comparison with a group of completely vaccine free children. doesn't sound like either is interested in this.

Let's call on Obama, Clinton and McCain to jointly introduce Carolyn Maloney's bill in the Senate. Then let's see who comes through.....

JB, You said that "Autism Speaks does not acknowledges that autism is truly on the rise." Is this true? Can you explain in detail? If it is true, Autism Speaks must be politically correct.

"Epidemic deniers and those who say it is "proven" that vaccines don't cause autism -- that's Big Media, Big Pharma and Big Government -- ought to take it up with the next president of the United States."


Within the heart of every stray

Lies the singular desire to be loved. :)

What will you do to protect Americans, especially young children and pregnant women, from exposure to mercury through vaccines?

Clinton" "I will ensure that all vaccines are as safe as possible for our children by working to ensure that Thimerosal and mercury are removed from vaccines. I plan to fully invest in our research agencies so they can protect our children's health, and so they can find the causes and cures for conditions such as autism."

Obama: "I support the removal of thimerosal from all vaccines and work to ensure that Americans have access to vaccines that are mercury free."

Neither one of them said they would ban thimerosal. They both gave answers that sounded pretty good but I think we all know what that means. Neither one of these politicians is going to do the right thing.

The correct answer to this question is: Yes, I know that thimerosal caused the autism epidemic and I will ban it completely and immediately and spend whatever it takes to cure every poisoned child.

Anything less than this answer is just political drivel designed to gain votes. I'm offering 20 to 1 that neither of these people will do one thing to stop this crrime.

Who's on the fringe of the autism debate now? Seems to me it's the CDC, the IOM, the AAP ... the scientific illiteracy of these people is breathtaking. Epidemic deniers and those who say it is "proven" that vaccines don't cause autism -- that's Big Media, Big Pharma and Big Government -- ought to take it up with the next president of the United States.

I agree, JB, this is amazing.

I suppose this is the sort of thing that renews your faith in democracy. Everyone knows that there's an epidemic of autism. But perhaps the trumping of science and common sense by political concerns has been so pervasive that we've all come to expect it.

I can't imagine you'd find many issues that Obama, Clinton and McCain all agree on.

I wonder if Clinton, Obama, and McCain would be surprised to learn that neither the CDC nor Autism Speaks even acknowledges that autism is truly on the rise.

It's unbelievable.

I'm heartened by their responses.

JB

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