Groups rights in this case would be too great of a risk.
That was the feedback that my daughter’s proposed bill received. After Fiona submitted the mock bill, which aimed to secure a student’s right to an education as well as guarantee the right to employment, she wasn't terribly shocked at the response. Some adults have yet to realize how important it is to protect their personal health care rights. To ask a bunch of teenagers to fully understand and vote on a topic she’s spent years supporting was a pretty steep task.
Maybe these other students haven't experienced what Fiona has when it comes to vaccines. We're both very grateful for that, but the other teens’ skewed thought - that the greater good is more important than the rights of an actual individual - does no one any good. I asked Fiona about the mock bill process and what she thinks she would’ve done differently if she ever had a similar assignment for her government class. Here was our conversation:
After you turned in your bill, what came next?
My classmates’ bills were randomly assigned to another high school government class in the US. That other class read through each bill and participated in a mock committee debate. The bills submitted could either be passed, amended, or rejected. If a bill was rejected, like mine was, you couldn’t make any changes. It basically died in committee.
Did any of your classmates' bills make any progress? If so, which ones?
Yes. Many of the ones that went farther than mine were about environmental issues, alternatives for energy, and gun control.
How long did it take for your bill to get shot down?
It was about a week and half after I submitted it. That doesn’t mean they debated for that long. That would’ve been nice if they did because that would make me think that they were really into debating this issue. It’s an important issue, and these other students are going to have to consider vaccines in the future, not just for themselves but if they ever have kids, too.
Did you expect it to be rejected by the committee?
Yes. But part of me was hoping to get a class that was open minded about health care. Their explanation didn’t give me much insight. I thought they’d give better feedback, but it sounds like they’re of the herd immunity mindset. It’s hard to argue with someone with that sort of mentality.
If you had the chance to rewrite the bill and resubmit it, would you make any changes to the wording?
You know what, I don’t think I would change anything. I think it was a perfect, simple proposal that made clear that we should not be subjected to unnecessary or unwanted procedures in order to go to school or to get a job.
Your personal experience as a sibling to a child whose health drastically declined post vaccination inspired you to write this bill. I can only speak for myself, but I am so proud of you for stepping forward and putting yourself out there! You didn’t do that just with your class, whom you know fairly well, but you put yourself out there to a group of strangers somewhere out there in America. Despite your well-researched and well-thought out proposal, that "committee" of strangers made clear that they didn't agree with you though. Will that stop you from speaking up about personal health care rights?
No, of course not. Just because they rejected the bill doesn’t mean that they shut me up. I’ll have other ways to share my experience and state my opinion. I did that recently when some of the kids and I were talking about our bills outside of class time. I was able to talk about the problems I see with vaccines. Some of the other students were pro-vaccine, but they listened to me. They didn’t agree with me in the end because they said that vaccines were good and that we all need to get them to keep us and everyone around us healthy. They knew that you can get sick from vaccines, even from the ones that are supposed to prevent diseases, but they still believed “the herd” should get them. And even when I tell people my brother’s story, it doesn’t seem to make a difference. I don’t know if they’ll be able to grasp what happened to Ronan until something happens to them, not that I’d ever wish that on anyone.
I wouldn’t wish that on anyone either. Thanks for helping me with this week’s post. I love getting your input, especially when I find out you’ve brought your personal experience to the classroom. That takes guts, and I’m so grateful that you don’t back down.
Anytime, mom ;)
Fiona was sad to learn that her peers didn't value the right to an education and a job like she does, but it won’t stop her from speaking up. She says she’s ready to speak up again. She may have the chance soon. The next assignment is going to be about the Supreme Court. She doesn’t have all the details about which cases they’ll be looking at yet, but wouldn’t it be a hoot if Fiona was assigned to read the Bruesewitz v. Wyeth LLC case? Yes, I think that would be quite ironic.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.