By Anne Dachel
I was angry to see Paul Offit's name under the May 9, 2013, Philadelphia Inquirer headline , "End religious exemption
I was furious to realize that there was a subtle implication that exempting parents are on a level with the actions of Jerry Sandusky.
"The Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State generated a public outcry for stronger laws against child abuse and neglect. Several bills have been introduced that purportedly provide a 'complete overhaul' of Pennsylvania's child-protection laws.
"For example, Senate Bill 20 makes it clear that any adult who 'causes serious bodily injury,' either by 'kicking, biting, stabbing, cutting, or throwing a child,' or "'orcefully shakes or slaps a child under one year of age,' or 'causes serious physical neglect,' or 'causes a child to be near a methamphetamine lab,' or 'operates a vehicle in which a child is a passenger while driving under the influence of alcohol,' has committed child abuse.
"Unfortunately, one group of children has been left behind.
"The bill states that 'if a child has not been provided needed medical or surgical care because of seriously held religious beliefs of the child's parents ... the child shall not be deemed to be physically or mentally abused.' In other words, if parents decide not to give their children antibiotics for meningitis, or insulin for diabetes, or chemotherapy for cancer, or surgery for intestinal blockage, they won't be held accountable. According to the bill, parents are abusive if they slap their 1-year-old child, but not if they withhold lifesaving therapies."
Offit talked about parents who didn't have children vaccinated during a measles outbreak 1991. He also gave examples of parents who refused various medical treatment because of their religious views.
According to Offit, this is a Constitutional issue. "The 14th Amendment to the Constitution states that 'no state shall ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.' Children whose parents hold certain religious beliefs shouldn't be afforded less protection than other children. That the commonwealth has allowed children to die from measles, bacterial pneumonia, or leukemia in the name of religion is inexplicable. That it continues to allow such abuse in the face of recent deaths is unconscionable."
To the unsuspecting reader, Offit might appear to be a protector of children. He wrote, "Pennsylvania should repeal its religious exemptions for medical neglect. Otherwise, children will continue to suffer and die needlessly."
To those who know what's really happening, it's clear that Offit was making a desperate play for public support for rapidly eroding confidence in the vaccine program.
The Philadelphia Inquirer was aiding and abetting him by not mentioning a word about the millions of dollars that Paul Offit has personally made from the developmental of a rota virus vaccine. Instead they merely said, "Paul A. Offit, M.D., is chief of the division of infectious diseases at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and professor of pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
And of course, nothing was mentioned about the fact that doctors have no liability for vaccine injuries. What was implied here was that vaccination is a win win situation with no risk. In reality, the federal government has paid out over two billion dollars for vaccine injuries, some of which involved autism.
Vaccines were only a little part of this story and it seems that parents shouldn't be allowed the final say in any medical procedures their children receive. Paul Offit's views supersede any religious beliefs parents might hold.
Most telling of all is the fact that the Philadelphia Inquirer had no comment section on this propaganda piece. That way they were able to avoid the angry responses from parents who learned first hand about trusting those who tell us that a one-size-fits-all vaccine schedule is safe.
For more on exemptions, see:May 10, 2013, Albany (OR) Democrat Herald: Linn follows trend for opt-out on kids' shots May 10, 2013, Columbus (IN) Republic: Oregon Legislature wades into vaccine debate, considers requiring education before opting out
May 10, 2013, San Francisco Examiner: Oregon lawmakers wade into vaccination debate
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism.