By Anne Dachel
Emily Willingham at Forbes reminds us at the beginning of her articles, "I write about the science they're selling you." I couldn't agree more. In her coverage, she regularly announces that vaccines don't cause autism. Her latest update was August 9, 2013: Court Rulings Don't Confirm Autism-Vaccine Link
"There’s a post making the rounds courtesy of something called 'Whiteout Press' with the headline 'Courts confirm vaccines cause autism.' It’s spreading across sites, through chains of elementary school parent communities, and onto radars of other communities that overlap. In other words, it’s viral. If only there were a vaccine for it.
"The post itself is a cobbled together retelling of stories everyone’s already known for years. Whiteout Press might have been surprised to learn about this 'ongoing story,' but each element of it has been widely reported in the mainstream media over the last decade and a half, in exceptional detail.
"The centerpiece of the 'courts confirm' article is the 2012 finding of a local Italian court that a child was diagnosed with autism a year after receiving an MMR. The court, in linking the two things, relied very heavily on the retracted and fraudulent 1998 Wakefield MMR Lancet paper and the testimony of a single physician, hired by the plaintiff’s attorney (widely known for advising parents on how to avoid compulsory vaccinations). The physician, Massimo Montinari, it seems, has written a book on how vaccines cause autism and peddles an autism 'cure' that he’s devised."
Willingham ridiculed the idea that an Italian court could be expected to make a sound decision about vaccines. "Italian courts, provincial or otherwise, are not known for basing their rulings in science. " She said we can rely instead on the scientific evidence and the vaccine court rulings in the U.S.
So why don't we believe her? Why haven't we been convinced by all the studies that show no link and the rulings against parents who claim vaccines caused their child's autism?
Willingham: "What baffles me–genuinely baffles me–is why they expend the energy on such an internally inconsistent, crazy-quilt job of an argument to level these false charges against vaccines. No medical intervention is without risks, and vaccines are no exception. But vaccines are among the safest, most-effective, and most widely life-saving interventions of all time."
After that ringing endorsement, she cautioned us, "Mispresenting the facts about them does no one any good at all and has done considerable harm."
"Mispresenting the facts"?
Willingham is typical of media people who maintain a cult-like mentality when it comes to vaccination. Vaccines are safe. Vaccines save lives, is their sacred mantra.
No matter how many parents say their healthy child became autistic right after a huge round of shots, there is no link.
No matter how many doctors admit they no longer follow the recommended vaccine schedule, there is no link.
No matter how many studies by well-credentialed experts challenge this tenet of faith, there is no link.
No matter that the federal vaccine court has compensated
lots of autistic kids, there is no link.
So was Fox News "mispresenting the fact" when they aired the story, Government Paid Millions to Vaccine-Injured Kids
, on May 9, 2011?
This coverage revealed that 83 cases have been found where a child injured by a vaccine was compensated by the federal government and that child’s injuries included autism.
Listen to Dr. Sarah Bridges talk about son’s case. He was a healthy baby until he was vaccinated. The court agreed that the vaccines he received caused his autism.
Louis Conte, who was involved in the discovery of those 83 cases of vaccine induced autism compensated by the federal government had this to say about Willingham's piece:
Forbes’ Willingham Wrong on Courts, Vaccine Injuries and Brain DamageEmily Willingham’s missive on Forbes.com on 8/9/13, “Court Rulings Don’t Confirm Autism-Vaccine Link” was in response to a Whiteout Press article called “Courts confirms vaccines cause autism.” Willingham criticized the Italian courts for a decision last year where they ruled that an MMR vaccine caused a child’s autism. She criticized Italian Courts in general but sang the praises of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP), for saving vaccine manufacturers millions because the United States is a “hyperletigious society” and life-saving vaccines need to be protected from the civil justice system. She incorrectly and selectively describes the Omnibus Autism Proceedings (she called them the “autism omnibus trial”), seizes the customary opportunity to criticize Dr. Andrew Wakefield and re-iterates the mainstream claim that the science against an autism-vaccine link is “overwhelming.” Willingham claims that the courts show that “vaccines don’t cause autism.”Willingham’s perspective of the NVICP is shallow and naïve. A thoughtful review of the program reveals a justice venue that lacks compassion, abuses petitioners and their witnesses and has become a vassal of the pharmaceutical industry it protects. The truth is that the NVICP conceals the reality of vaccine injury by keeping vaccine injury victims out of the view of American citizens and juries. The Omnibus Autism Proceedings ultimately denied justice to thousands of petitioners. The federal government’s Division of Vaccine Injury Compensation, which screens all the cases that enter the program, failed to disclose the fact that the program regularly compensated children for the vaccine induced brain damage who also had autism since its inception in 1988. These children were typically compensated for brain damage - the NVICP Table Injury called Encephalopathy - an acknowledged outcome of vaccine injury. Autism is a behavioral manifestation of brain damage in many of these cases. In the peer reviewed Unanswered Questions From the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program: A Review of Compensated Cases of Vaccine-Induced Brain Injury, (28 Pace Envtl. L. Rev. 480 (2011) Available at: http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/pelr/vol28/iss2/6) Holland, Krakow, Colin and I reported on 83 such cases after gaining access to a small percentage of the cases compensated over the past twenty years. Our two year investigation revealed that autism secondary to brain damage has long been understood within the NVICP. How clearly understood? Note this comment from a Special Master in the 2003 Kienan Freeman case: “It was noted at the hearing that Kienan's neurologic disorder has features that might cause it to be labeled as "atypical autism," a condition within the category of "autistic spectrum disorder." (Tr. 103-108.) I note, however, that even assuming that Kienan's disorder is correctly classified within the "atypical autism" category, that is essentially irrelevant to my ruling concerning the entitlement issue in this case. As Dr. Kinsbourne explained, Kienan's autistic-type features seem to be a result of the brain damage that caused his severe mental retardation. (Tr. 9, 21-22.) As Dr. Kinsbourne further explained, brain damage is one of the many possible causes of autism.”The statement that the courts show that “vaccines don’t cause autism” is false. Many cases in the NVICP show that vaccine injury can result in brain damage and that autism is often a result. The United States government compensated vaccine injured children with autism years BEFORE. Dr. Wakefield published his paper. It has become fashionable for many journalists to attack Dr. Wakefield, restate that his paper on twelve children with autism was retracted and blame him for the association between autism and vaccines. In contrast, few journalists report that the man behind much of the government’s “overwhelming” scientific evidence – Poul Thorsen - is presently a fugitive from justice (http://www.jusice.gov/usao/gan/). He is charged with stealing over one million dollars from the Centers for Disease Control, the federal agency that funded his research. And Thorsen’s research – which is flawed in too many ways to list here - was cited over twenty times by Special Masters in the Omnibus Autism Proceedings. This felon is presently evading extradition in Europe. Willingham begins many of her articles with the statement "I write about the science they're selling you." If so, she ought to be writing about Poul Thorsen.One can imagine that the Whiteout Press article “going viral” upset the legion of vaccine industry supporters who dominate the public discourse on this controversy. Willingham admits that the staying power of this debate “baffles” her. Does she consider that what motivates many (including me) is the desire for children to be protected from drugs that may be injuring them and justice for those injured? I invite her to read any of the case decisions on vaccine injuries from the NVICP. These legal decisions often describe the pain and suffering of vaccine injury victims who may well be impaired for the rest of their lives. Many cases result in death. Does one case “prove” that “vaccines cause autism”? No, but eighty-three cases - and more recent cases like Mojabi (SAEID B. MOJABI and PARIVASH VAHABI, as legal representatives of their minor son, RYAN B. MOJABI v. SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES (06-227V)), show a clear pattern. Vaccine injury can lead to brain damage - and autism. It is time for serious, independent investigation of the health outcomes of those compensated for vaccines. --Louis Conte
Personally, I’m waiting for Emily Willingham to do a piece where she talks about how she interviewed Hannah Poling's parents, some of the 83 Pace Law Review
parents, some of Dr. Wakefield’s parents, along with at least a couple of the experts on our side. I want her to really investigate this controversy and see if she remains convinced the vaccines do not cause autism. That's what reporters are supposed to do.
And if Ms Willingham really really wants to do something worthwhile regarding this issue, she'd demand a comparison study of fully vaccinated and never unvaccinated children to see if both groups have the same autism rate. She could be enthusiastically predicting that we'll clear this up in her favor. She might even look for unvaccinated autistic kids herself just to prove to us that they're out there somewhere. The vaccine debate would be ended overnight if one in every 31 never vaccinated boys also has autism.
And the study group is out there. Lots of parents are now too scared to vaccinate and our health officials do retrospective studies like this all the time.
(Something else the mainstream media has ignored is the fact that eight years ago, Dan Olmsted, then a UPI editor, revealed that he'd found two groups of unvaccinated children
and they also didn't have autism.)
Finally, my message to Emily Willingham and everyone else bemoaning the fact that we just don't get it: You need to prepare yourselves. If this study isn't done, the controversy is only going to get worse.
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism.