McCain Senior Policy Advisor Responds To Autism Questionnaire
Special Education Attorney on Palin's Record

McCain Addresses Vaccine Safety, Obama Silent

Voting_boothMcCain Supports Parental Vaccine Choice. McCain Addresses Vaccine Safety. Obama Silent.

By Rebecca Estepp

I'm a registered independent voter. 

Since autism blew into my life with the diagnosis of my son, Eric, I no longer subscribe to either party. Autism affects the children of Democrats and Republicans equally.  Autism affects Americans.

My party affiliation is now autism/vaccine safety. While there are many other issues facing our country today - our economy, global warming, alternative energy and fighting two wars among them- autism/vaccine safety is my issue.  For the 2008 election, I am a one-issue voter, and I am not alone.   Many voters are concerned about vaccine safety. (HERE)

As the wife of a Marine who has served three war-time deployments overseas over the last five years, you would think the war would be the most important issue to me, but it's not. 

This war will be over at some point, but the effects of vaccine damage will last for generations.  I am extremely concerned about babies that are being injected on a daily basis with neurotoxins that are causing countless medical conditions and stealing their potential for a full life.  It weighs heavily on my heart.   

This is the precise reason I took it upon myself to challenge the Presidential Candidates to issue two executive orders that, if implemented, would begin to address vaccine safety.   

After months of hard work, I am pleased to report that, on Monday night, I received an e-mail response to my questions from Douglas Holtz -Eakin, a senior policy advisor to the McCain campaign. 

The McCain campaign directly responded to my request with the following two key points:

1)    Vaccine safety is a concern.  He "will work with all agencies to take all necessary steps in an expedient manner to ensure safe vaccines for every American family."  This will include continuing work to reduce and eliminate thimerosal (containing the known neurotoxin mercury) from vaccines. 
2)   Parental choice is paramount.  "The key to health care reform is to restore control to the patients themselves."

The entire email is available HERE.

To-date, Senator Obama has not directly responded to my request.  This is what we know about Senator Obama's position regarding vaccine safety:

1)   Senator Obama does not appear to support parental choice.   On September 5, 2008, Senator Obama told a concerned parent, "I do not support selective vaccination."

2)   The words "vaccine safety" are not found in any of Senator Obama's campaign materials or speeches.  In response to my video about vaccine safety, the Obama campaign sent me a general autism position letter which did not even include the word "vaccine". 

Senator Obama's aide and friend, Michael Strautmanis has a child with autism.  He recently wrote an excellent Op-ed piece outlining Senator Obama's intentions to help people with disabilities.  While the disability community needs the help Mr. Strautmanis describes, the piece does not mention vaccine safety, which may prevent children from becoming chronically ill or disabled in the first place. (HERE)

Many families are concerned that children are getting too many vaccines, too soon.  Whether parents choose to delay or to skip some of the vaccinations our children receive, the risk and the choice must be ours.  Many families with children on the autism spectrum vaccinate their subsequent children "selectively." 

Parental concerns about vaccine safety are valid.  The CDC admits that "simultaneous vaccination is incompletely studied at time of licensure". (4/4/2008) 
(HERE), p.33.

Whoever is elected as President will appoint 1,100 people to executive branch positions over the next few months.  Our President oversees the agencies that approve vaccine efficacy and safety. 

It is time for strong and courageous leadership from the Commander-In-Chief.  Vaccine Safety needs to be a top priority for those who are appointed by the next President to lead the CDC and the NIH.

Senator McCain says parents should have the final say in how they vaccinate their own children.  Senator Obama appears to disagree.  I sincerely hope Senator Obama misspoke that night in New Jersey.  If so, I hope he clarifies soon.

If either campaign believes the above statements are in error, please say so in public before November 4th. 


Rebecca Estepp is Parent Support and Media Relations Manager for Talk About Curing Autism.  Becky did the additional presidential video, correspondence and questionnaires as a volunteer, outside the time she works for TACA.


Carolyn M. to Victoria O'Neill

"Thorough and independent review" to be performed by whom? A review could just as easily produce no change or a change for the worse.

I would recommend you read Lin's posted comments ( of 11/2/08 for an excellent summation of what each of the presidential candidates has said and done with regard to autism. She also references Senator Obama's answers to the Science Debate questionnaire. In those answers, he uses very positive language toward vaccines; he calls them a "vital product" and expresses a "need for broad-gauged vaccines". He also states, "I have pledged to invest $10 billion per year over the next 5 years in electronic health information systems to not only improve routine health care, but also ensure that these systems will give health officials the crucial information they need to deploy resources and save lives in an emergency." I do not think it is a good idea for the government to be able to easily find out what vaccines any of our children have been given, what special diets/supplements/medications they are using, and whether we are chelating. Such a database would be too prone to misuse. In addition, please note that Senator Obama has stated that he is "not for selective vaccination."

Something else that I would recommend you read is Kelli Ann Davis' comments: both (http://www.ageof and (http://ageof Both of them are very recent (11/1/08 and 11/2/08) and concern a bill that is to be introduced by Obama and Durbin. Putting the CDC in charge of anything to do with autism is putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop. She also states that there is no biomedical language in the bill and that "our segment of the community was not involved in the formation of this bill." The question that occurs to me is if our side wasn't involved in writing this bill, then who was?

Senator Obama has said very little with regard to autism to national audiences. He mentioned it at the last debate only to criticize Senator McCain's proposals. Senator McCain has talked about autism several times to such audiences. Senator Obama has used the word "treatment". Senator McCain has stated that he wants to find the cause and a cure. Senator Obama had the perfect opportunity at the last debate to mention what he wanted to do about autism - and thereby score points off Senator McCain if his positions were better - but there was silence from him on that subject.

I am not a one issue voter. However, these are some of the reasons that I am voting for Senator McCain.

Artist Victoria O'Neill

I just read the questionarre that Obama filled out. When asked if he would support a federal right for families and individuals to choose for themselves which vaccines they use, he talked about preventative care such as health screenings and that he supported people's rights to refuse health screenings. He went on to say that he supports a THOROUGH AND INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF OUR NATION'S VACCINATION POLICIES!
Isn't that what we need?
Obama is an intelligent man and seems to have the ability to think outside the status quo box, so it seems to me that as he learns more about vaccination, he will come to agree with informed consent for vaccination.
btw, none of my kids are vaccinated.

Carolyn M. for Lin

Lin -

I'm sorry my post was unclear. While I thank you for the link you posted to Senator Obama's responses to the A-Champ questionnaire, that was not the link I was looking for. I had previously stated that I thought I had read somewhere that Senator Obama had disavowed the answers to that questionnaire, and I was having trouble finding the link for THAT particular statement. Since I could not find it, I retracted that particular statement. I do, however, appreciate the help.

As I have not had much time to continue the search lately, my retraction stands.


Carolyn M.

Here is the link to Obama's completed questionaire.

Autism Action Coaltion was previously ACHAMP.

No need to retract anything you stated! ;)


Senator McCain has been interacting with our community and fully committed for many months now.

Nov. 2007 met with ACHAMP representatives and in DEC of '07 requested hearings for the Senator HELP committee. Senator Obama sits on the HELP committee by the way.

Feb. of 2008

John McCain Enters the Autism Wars
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."

Which, leads us to today. John McCain has a long history of supporting us, and our cause.

He has been speaking out against pharma for quite some time and went toe-to-toe with Bill Frist in opposition to the Lily Rider as well.

Vaccines = Lemons

From vaccines = yes

"Vaccines are safe enough for regular use so there is no real reason for either candidate to comment. Why would anyone say "cars are safe, except when they're not"?"

You know you bring up a very good point. There is a 1970s paper "The Market for Lemons: Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism" written by an economist called George Akerlof that discusses the concept of information asymmetry that occurs when a seller has greater information about a product than a buyer. See here:

As per this website, the Criteria for a Lemon Market is as under:

"A lemon market will be produced by the following:

1. Asymmetry of information
* no buyers can accurately assess the value of a product through examination before sale is made
* all sellers can more accurately assess the value of a product prior to sale
2. An incentive exists for the seller to pass off a low quality product as a higher quality one
3. Sellers have no credible disclosure technology (sellers with a great car have no way to credibly disclose this to buyers)
4. Either there exist a continuum of seller qualities OR the average seller type is sufficiently low (i.e. buyers are sufficiently pessimistic about the seller's quality)
5. Deficiency of effective public quality assurances (by reputation or regulation)
6. Deficiency of effective guarantees / warranties"

Following the publication of Akerlof's paper, the US government (Democrats) enacted the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act in 1975 to protect consumers. See here:

I don't see why vaccines cannot be guaranteed to be safe. They are products and like any other product they should be subjected to rigorous quality inspections. A manufacturer say so and a bumbling FDA reliance on the manufacturer's say so are grossly insufficient. I think the American consumer deserves better.

Carolyn M.

Since I am currently having considerable difficulty in locating the link to Senator Obama and his response to the A-Champ questionnaire that I previously referred to, I wish to retract that portion of my post until such time as I am able to locate the information.

However, I stand by the rest of what I wrote.

Vaccines = yes

Vaccines are safe enough for regular use so there is no real reason for either candidate to comment. Why would anyone say "cars are safe, except when they're not"?

Katherine Walker

In April, David Kirby argued that either candidate would essentially have to follow-up with vaccine safety issues b/c it is on the agenda of the CDC.

See the below link to Huffingtonpost.

Additionally, one issue voting is what got us here in the first place, what good will it do to have one issue taken care of if you don't deal with other important issues as well, like the economy, or energy, or environment, or climate change?

We owe it to our children not only to advocate for them and for vaccine safety, but to keep our eyes open and look at the entire horizon.

No intention of offending anyone --

Thomas Jefferson once said "Every Generation needs a new revolution." To me, the Obama campaign seems like a new kind of revolution.

Cindy Lozano

To recoveryplease :
Sarah Palin has a child with Down's Syndrome, but her sister has a child with autism. (That's what McCain was referring to.) There are plenty of posts on Denis Leary on this website, just go down a little earlier in the month.

Carolyn M.

To "It's getting ridiculous":

I'm having some trouble finding the reference, but I will continue looking. What I remember reading is that Senator Obama claimed not to have seen/filled out the questionaire; either he or his campaign stated that a staffer must have completed it. Upon further investigation, the author of the piece stated that the answers appeared to be in Senator Obama's handwriting. I'm sorry not to be more helpful right now.

I do not believe that Senator Obama has already won the presidential race. This race is still too close to call at this point; too many polls are still within the margin of error and too much (very intense) campaigning is still going on.

Louise Kuo Habakus

Hi, everyone. I put this out on my e-blast Wed night and received some confused and annoyed responses back, a la "how can you tell me to vote for McCain? He only did this to get votes!"

We are people brought together by our sick and injured children. We have become a community, brought together by our willingness to talk about the tough issues and the things that matter.

Like money, politics has become the taboo subject of polite society. And it shows. Many people I talk with outside of our community have very little understanding about what's going on at the state or national level. (And to be fair, I am not fully up to speed on all other important issues.) In my opinion, it is clear that we have allowed our freedoms to be taken away from us, one by one by the very people we elected to serve us. These people have served themselves nicely. They are not serving us. We must create political imperative. We must force the dialogue.

I’m not saying you should vote for McCain or Obama. Whether you question the sincerity of McCain's statement, at least he said something on the record. Why won't Obama respond? Why won't he say the words "vaccine safety?" The question must be asked.

I don't pretend for a moment that the answer to that question alone should drive your vote. My goal is to create more national dialogue about vaccination choice. I want to bring our issue into the spotlight. The vote is an entirely different matter… it’s your personal decision based on the sum total of what’s important to you.


Angela Warner

Twyla - while I didn't necessarily agree with the veto on the SCHIP at the time, please check out this link and pay particular attention to the fourth paragraph.

That makes me sick. It has long been said that Big Pharma runs this country, not the government. Big Pharma would love socialized medicine. While I agree that every person in our country should have healthcare, the backing can not come from Big Pharma.

You may have to copy and paste - sorry for that.

It's getting ridiculous

Carolyn M., regarding your statement:
"I also seem to remember reading that Senator Obama had disavowed his answers to the questions on the A-Champ questionaire."
Could you (or anyone) please provide a link?? I had assumed that he at least wanted Thimerosal removed from vaccines. If his A-Champ answers have been disavowed, then that information needs to be out there for all to know, and we should be hammering him about that since he will probably be our next president.

Thank you for spelling out what Obama wants to do in terms of helping our children, but I'm not only a one-issue-voter, I'm a one-SUB-issue-voter: Prevention. Every kid who is PREVENTED from becoming autistic means $3 million that won't have to be spent on care, housing and education. (Not to mention the untold emotional costs on the child and the family and the loss of productivity to society.)

ANYbody out there?

"Palin calls that the story of millions of Americans. Her hope is to strengthen the National Institutes of Health 'to make sure we're researching everything about autism and make sure we find out what causes it.'"

Does Palin not know that the National Institutes of Health have already done that and declared the "autism is genetic" verdict? Like years ago?

Is anyone else frightened by the fact that this woman seems to be completely clueless about all areas of public life? And this is AFTER there is autism in the family that she is close to? HELP!


in the debate, didn't obama say that research for autism costs money, followed by mccain complaining about obama's desire to spend... yes, mccain it will cost money to fight this ----- somehow the overlap in conversation seemed to get left off the debate manuscript

Palin to Look to NIH for Autism

"Palin's eyes well up as she talks about her sister's son, Karcher, who has autism.

"'My sister and I have talked a lot about this. It makes me cry thinking about it,' Palin said. 'She asked with tears in her eyes, she says, 'What happens when Kurt and I, though, are elderly, then what happens to Karcher?'

"Palin calls that the story of millions of Americans. Her hope is to strengthen the National Institutes of Health 'to make sure we're researching everything about autism and make sure we find out what causes it.'"

One Issue Voter

This election, I am a one issue voter. My whole life is autism. Every second of every day. Therapy, supplements, research, etc. Autism. Autism. Autism. Autism. The only change I want to see in the world right now is that children stop being harmed because of greed and deception, that our children get the education and therapies they need, the medical coverage to pay for these doctors, etc. Then perhaps, I'll have the time to focus on something else, but right now - McCain would pretty much have to say or do something really stupid to lose my vote. Am I thrilled with his stance on everything he says, of course not - but I do feel that he's a hell of alot more sincere in his statements regarding autism.

Claudine Liss

TO: Just Wondering
From: Claudine Liss
(Claudine responds to Just Wondering's questions)

Although your article here on AoA does not include Ms. Liss' comments. I was just wondering what her party affiliation is?

Claudine: (I am an Independent. I have never voted for a Republican Presidential Candidate--in 30 minutes I turn 40, so I have been voting for a few years.)

And I wonder why you excluded this statement from Ms. Liss here?

Claudine(No reason that I know of. Go read my Age of Autims post from early Sept.)

We're putting a lot of emphasis on this 5-10 second interaction with Ms. Liss and Barack Obama.

Claudine: The interaction was actually several minutes.

I don't know if I can make a decision based on this 5-10 seconds.

Claudine: Again, the conversation was several minutes, and you should not have to make a decision on my comments. Both candidates should have the honor, integrity and courage to address this issue with us open and honestly.

Claudine:(In my opinion, nothing regarding the vaccine protocol will change with Obama, still not sure if it would change with McCain either - both candidates have no courage when it comes to discussing the vaccine issue publicly.)

I have to wonder if Mr. Obama had a more lengthy interaction and learned of Ms. Liss's concerns would he have given the same response?

Claudine: (I told Obama my concerns. They did not impact his response. Obama told me that his staffer has an autistic child. From his response re:no selective vaccination, I can only assume that his staffer does not believe in a vaccine/autism connection. Now none of us should have to assume anything these candidates should be openly discussing this issue that has many US parents very concerned, including myself.)

I thought I was all about the autism-vaccine issue too. Turns out I'm not.

Claudine: In my opinion, both candidates are terrible. Obama will most likely be better for funding services (if there is any money left).I do not blame parents for voting for him for this reason,however, I firmly believe that the root of the problem will be ignored by Obama, and possibly by McCain too. I am Pro-Choice, Anti This War, feel that Bush is a war criminal....I went to a McCain town hall to ask him vaccine questions too. I was not called on...I tried to get his attention. I left the event shaking my head...I left the Obama event shaking my head too.

I feel John McCain is desperate and his delay in responding to your questionare shows that. He'll promise anything at this point. He needs votes.

Claudine: I do not disagree with this statement. However, I still firmly feel that Obama will not change his mind on selective vaccination. He used the word "selective" not me. A friend said the following to me several months ago: the Republicans love vaccines because they are great for big business, the Democrats love vaccines because they help so many children and are for the public good.



Hey Nancy,

Yes to the crapshoot. I'll get involved and roll the dice but I just can't be in the "true believer" wagon circles anymore. We're all going to need to reserve judgement and keep demanding change no matter who gets in. Last I checked, the epidemic of autism has a lower prevalence rate than the run of questionable to really bad presidents.


To Judith Mortenson, who appears to be a one-time canvaser or at least not a regular visitor to the blog: Thomas Sowell is not particularly popular around here. You know... being that he's a big fan of the "increased recognition" theory of the epidemic. He was also a big fan of Clarence Thomas. Not good selling points to this community.


I am surprised by some of the comments here. People will vote for the candidate that they see as most fit. All of the persuasion in the world may not sway one side to see the other and vice versa. I am an undecided voter and weighing the policy that each candidate supports. Did any of you realize that Sarah Palin's special needs child has Down's Syndrome and not Autism? In the third debate, McCain spoke at length about how we need to support these families. That seems like something he should know about his running mate before going on about a misdiagnosis. This issue is very close to our hearts because it affects us so deeply and personally. Only we know the challenges that we have faced and the triumphs. I will work toward my son's recovery no matter who is elected but in agreement with another post--this is not the sole issue that I will base my vote on. Any comments on the displayed ignorance of Dennis Leary?


"It's getting ridiculous" -
I am not a "die-hard Obama supporter". I actually did not start out supporting him. But as this campaign has unfolded, I am liking him more and more, and McCain less and less. However, if McCain did something wonderful I would acknowledge it. I'm not so biased, but I do have opinions, which may be different from yours.

Below is a quote from today's Schafer Autism Report. This is written by By Robert A. Naseef, author of "Special Children, Challenged Parents" (a wonderful book BTW) co-editor of Voices from the Spectrum, psychologist, and father of a son with autism.

"So which candidate is more likely to be a friend and advocate based upon proposals and not rhetoric? At, readers will notice 2 short paragraphs about autism and another page, 'Americans with Disabilities for McCain' which does not include actual policy positions. To his credit, John McCain was a co-sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). He has also supported some of the same legislation as Obama; however, he has not supported full funding of these bills and has sometimes actively opposed it.

"Recently McCain opposed the expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Plan (SCHIP) which is vital for families with expensive healthcare bills for children with special needs. McCain's running mate Sarah Palin does not have a track record of focus on special needs though she has implied that having a baby with Down syndrome may change that.

"At, readers can review an 8 page 'Plan to Empower Americans with Disabilities.' Obama plans to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to insure that children with special needs are not left behind. He also has a significantly strong record of support and has sponsored varied legislation concerning the special needs population. His running mate, Joe Biden also has a long record of supporting the educational rights of children with disabilities. Both Obama and Biden have substantial track records that are easy to find on the Internet.

"To 'advocate' means to speak or write in favor of a person or cause. We moms and dads need more than words in order to truly care for our children. To speak for the cause of therapy moms and dads requires vigorous support of the need for full funding of Special Needs programs including those involving education, health care, and civil rights. So far only Barrack Obama has spelled out such a policy."

Yes, this is not about vaccines. But vaccines are only part of the picture. Both McCain and Obama have expressed support for removing thimerosal, but neither has said that vaccines cause autism. Both are politicians, who do a fair amount of "artful dodging". But the more I know about Obama, the more he seems to me like an intelligent, thoughtful person who listens and learns.

Carolyn M.

Senator McCain brought up autism in the last debate. He has been talking about autism to national audiences. He has not only expressed a desire to find the cause of autism, he also stated that we need to find a cure. Senator Obama only mentioned autism in the last debate in order to attack Senator McCain's proposals. I am unaware of any discussion of autism by Senator Obama to national audiences. I also seem to remember reading that Senator Obama had disavowed his answers to the questions on the A-Champ questionaire. I have also not heard or read Senator Obama stating that we need to find a cure for autism. The word he has used is "treatment". This, together with his statement that he is "not for selective vaccination" could indicate that he is leaning toward the "autism is 100% genetic" position. Senator Obama does get credit for wanting to fully fund special education. However, he had the perfect opportunity at the last debate (when he used autism in order to attack his opponent) to discuss what he intended to do about the autism epidemic - and score points off of Senator McCain in the process if his plans were better than Senator McCain's - and the silence was deafening.

In addition, Senator McCain has stated that he wants "transparency" and "accountability" in government. We could definitely use some at CDC, FDA, etc.

Finally, in my experience government-provided health care is not very desirable for children who have autism. We would be better off with (carefully worded) insurance mandates.


It's getting ridiculous

You know what? If McCain were to announce plans to remove all thimerosal from vaccines, revert to the 1978 vaccine schedule and throw everyone responsible for harming our children in jail, the
die-hard Obama supporters would probably accuse him of pandering, complain his words are too vague and reinterpret them to mean he doesn't care about autism, vaccines or children.


Mrs. Silencebegood -

I can understand you being upset, but please accept that I am not a one issue voter (even though autism rules in this house). My concern with McCain surrounds a host of issues not related to autism. And as far as the autism issue, I am not convinced he or Sarah Palin are sincere on this or will have the power to change the situation. Likewise, I am not convinced by Obama's promise to make insurance companies pay up. (Trust me, you DO NOT want to know what I just went through with my insurance company.) I am aware of the work he did with Joe Leiberman on this and I know he's not new to this issue. I could go on, but let's suffice to say I am not a one issue voter. But that's what makes this country free, doesn't it?

Relax, cast your vote and pray for our kids.
Have a good night.


Diane, did I sound upset? May be it is because I was upset. I'm tired of hearing people smear Palin and McCain on the Autism issue. It is as if Obama walks on water for some and McCain can't do anything or say anything right. Forgive me if it wasn't the case, but your first post sounded to me as if you were fairly convinced McCain wasn't on-board for families of children with ASD. To the best of my knowledge he is the only candidate that cares about our vaccines damaged children.

Ben's Dad

For Cindy Lozano - I can only speak from my own experience and argue for my own family. If autism is a response to environmental triggers in the presence of a genetic predisposition, the parallel goals should be to reduce the harmful exposures and screen for the genetic predisposition. I already have my screening tool - A child, a sibling with a child, and a cousin with a child with autism, all of whom were raised in different states, with no classic autism in prior vaccine free generations. At the very least such extended families should be test cases for challenging mandated vaccines. We are a population sub group that responds differently to exposures that others have no problem with.

I don’t think anything will get accomplished without compromise, and that is why I would support a tiered system. I am not against vaccines. I feel that recognition of at-risk sub groups will open the door to greater choice. My strategy to reduce early childhood neurological injury would be to completely eliminate preservatives that are known to be harmful in isolation if an alternative exists, demand relevant testing before mandating anything, partially remove corporate immunity, prioritize vaccines into risk tiers, delay the schedule (no child before two), and develop genetic screening techniques for children who should be exempted.

The comments by Twyla below on Obama are encouraging.


Mrs. Silencedogood --- what's up with the nasty tone of voice?


My vote goes to McCain. I do believe that McCain actually sees this issue - and isn't sold that vaccines are safe either.

I have ZERO confidence whatsoever that Obama would do anything regarding autism & vaccinations.

I have to wonder if McCain would have pulled his car over to talk to those at the rally next door to Bon Jovi's house. Somehow, I don't think he would have just driven right by like Obama did.


This is for Diane, the third person to leave a comment here, you said that McCain had not responded the A-Champ questionnaire. Not only has he responded to the questionnaire, he met with A-Champ last November. Click here:

Diane, make sure you get your facts straight before you leave a comment like that about a presidential candidate. Here's one of my own. TO DATE OBAMA HASN'T MET WITH A-CHAMP. In addition, there isn't a single mention of vaccine safety in Obama's responses to the A-Champ questionnaire. Not a single one.

Obama: "I'm not for selective vaccination, I believe that it will bring back deadly diseases, like polio." Source:


i agree that McCain seems to have a better radar for autism than Obama - but how can McCain claim that health reform can only come from consumer choice while still advocating mandatory participation in our corrupt health insurance system? Forcing everyone to buy for-profit health insurance is only going to increase our inability to selectively vaccinate, no matter what his intentions.

Cindy Lozano

Ben's dad,
Why should our first-born child have to be vaccine-damaged before we can choose for our other children?



Twyla, a NO to selective vaccination is a NO to parental choice. That's the choice many of us want, to be able to select which vaccinations, if any, we want for our kids. And you keep repeating Obama's answers to the questions posed to him, but the answers he gave did not always answer the questions asked of him. Lots of artful dodging.

Ben's Dad

I am very concerned that Obama's campaign appears to be off on the issue of vaccine safety and choice. However, I have more confidence in the intellectual curiosity of the Obama team then in the "why does it always have to always be about money" crowd. I have emailed the Obama campaign directing them to this article, and I hope others will do the same.

As an uncle of a child with autism before I became the parent of a child with autism, I can testify that the two perspectives are entirely different. The only advantage I had was to shield my child from thimerosal, but that was not enough. We need more answers.

I can tolerate a tiered program that mandates some vaccines while leaving others up to choice. Vaccines in the top tier should pass the most stringent safety tests, and be of the greatest necessity. Families that have a history of early childhood neurological injury or mitochondrial disorders should be offered greater choice even at the top tier then those who do not.


Does anyone else feel as if voting for President is as much of a crapshoot as getting a vaccination?


Over the years I have heard parents say that Senator McCain has listened to their concerns about vaccine safety and promised to look into the issue. Then earlier in the year at a town hall meeting he said that he believes that there is a link between thimerosal and autism. I don't think he was pandering then, because that was a politcaly dangerous thing for him to say.

I think he believes in the vaccine-autism connection. Now he has stated that he believes in parental choice in the matter.

I fear a government run health care system that emphasises "preventive" care, which will surely mean more vaccines mandated, with less freedom to choose.


Being a one issue voter is irrational.
Don't tell me you actually believe that McCain will get all mavericky and buck the public health complex on vaccine policy. Do you want more Julie Gerberding's engaging in bureaucratic jujitsu (Barbara Loe Fischer's words) with advocates for a more robust vaccine safety strucure? The Republicans have a pretty good track record on gutting safety if you ask me.

If you read the McCain campaign response to A-Champ carefully, it has more holes in it than a wheel of swiss cheese. Anyone familiar with public policy formulation and change knows that pinning politicians down on anything is a very rare thing indeed.

As you indicate in your post, Obama's overall disability platform is "excellent", as outlined by Mike Strautmanis. Putting your faith in a nod, wink, and pander to your issue with a scanty platform behind it versus voting for a robust disability platform and working to educate and advocate for vaccine policy changes is, frankly, a no brainer in my mind.

Lynne Arnold

McCain has been in Congress for a very long time. If he had a commitment to vaccine safety or otherwise had a concern for families for autism, he's had plenty of time to act on that supposed commitment. So what has he done for the autism community in the last five years, 10 years or 20 years? What legislation did he sponsor? How did he support fellow Republican Dan Burton?

Why hasn't McCain said that he'll fully fund IDEA? I wholeheartedly believe that we've got to have safer vaccines to prevent autism, but we also need important interventions for tens of thousands of children who already have autism.

If Senator McCain is well aware of the problems and solutions, why hasn't he done anything?


Obama has NOT been silent on vaccine safety. Again I will post excerpts from his response to A-Champ's questionnaire:

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

- "I believe Americans 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."

- "Autism Spectrum Disorder (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 cannot be explained solely by increased awareness or changes to the diagnostic criteria. It is a health crisis and I will act accordingly."

- "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."

He also said:

- "ASD affects behavior, communication and socialization and means that Americans with ASD will have a lifetime struggle to fully integrate within the community."

- "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"

- "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"

Obama does not specifically state that he believes autism is caused by vaccines, that the vaccine program has problems, that he would fund a study comparing vaxed vs. unvaxed, that vaccines are one of the environmental triggers. But McCain is not saying those things either.

Obama was asked at a gathering a few weeks ago whether he supported "selective vaccination". He was NOT asked whether he supported parental choice. A person who is not in favor of abortions can still be pro-choice. I don't think we should attach so much importance to that off-the-cuff remark.

McCain's response to the questions above is made at a time when he is desperately pandering for votes. Obama responded to A-Champ much sooner, showing more sincerity.

McCain does not specifically say he will remove all thimerosal. He just says that he "will work with all Public Health Service agencies to ensure that we take all necessary steps in an expedient manner to ensure safe vaccines for every American family." Yeah, and what have these agencies done so far?

I just don't see any evidence at all that McCain will be better than Obama on these issues.

Not a one issue voter

OH my, how to determine whether this is a sincere answer or more political pandering on the part of McCain.
Either way I don't agree with McCain's health care plan and I certainly don't want Palin as our next VP (possible Prez if something were to happen to McCain). I don't believe that she has shown in any way that she is an 'expert' on autism and special needs as the McCain campaign has tried to tote her as.
I'll take my chances with throwing my vote Obama's way as we all keep shouting at the top of our lungs that are children have been hurt by environmental damage, including vaccines.
Has anyone approached either Michelle Obama or Cindy McCain on these issues? Seems like the future first lady might be a good 'in' with our pleas for help.

L Land

Alaska may have a bigger land area than Texas but it has the population of Fulton County. It is more like Sarah Palin was the former mayor of Hapeville and is now the Fulton County Commissioner but lacks the experience of working with the Atlanta Reginal Commission because there is nobody else up there.
I'm still waiting to hear what she will advocate for.
I also wonder how much the US Government has paid for travel expenses for Obama's kids.

Maria B.

Karenatlanta and anyone else who may be interested,

I encourage you to email me. A local Connecticut attorney who advocates for children with special needs has put together a piece about the McCain/Palin ticket. She has actually traveled to Alaska and was shocked at far behind it was with the education of children with special needs. She gives permssion at the end to email to anyone who cares deeply about this issue, but it would be too long to post.

[email protected]



I agree, it's time for a change. Health care in the US is a disaster for those with any kind of issues, damaged children included.

For me the number one issue is health care. Without healthy kids (mentally and physically) we have more crime, depression, unhealthy habits like credit card dept, etc etc etc. And more sick and neglected kids being born generation after generation.

I'm so tired of things like my parents paying $3,000 a month for health care out of the pocket because they are 60 and have pre-exising conditions. How sick!!!! They have been paying taxes since they started working 40 years ago and have nothing to show for it. Children are uninsured and unable to get the care they need. I know so many people who don't take their KIDS to the doctor and instead ask for advice on the internet.

It's time for a big change people. I know I'm voting for someone who seems to be offering the most change when it comes to health issues.

Wendy Fournier

Becky, thank you so much! Your hard work and dedicated advocacy on behalf of all our of children is appreciated beyond words!


I'm with Maria B. McCain is desperate and will say anything to get a vote. I also agree with John Gilmore that we need to use this to get Obama to review the situation and commit to helping those yet to be hurt by vaccines. And I agree with just wondering if we're putting to much emphasis on Obama's 5-10 second response on parental choice.


Good luck on getting the health care you need on John McCain's small health care credit. His $5000 credit ($2500 if you're single) will fall significantly short of the $12,000 needed to cover the average cost of yearly insurance premiums.

Don't count Obama out simply because he didn't respond to your email. He's a wise man who understands how to find solutions. Take a look at the whole package before you pull the lever on November 4th.

If you really want your children to have a future with good health care, affordable college education, and a job to work at after they graduate, vote for Obama.


I am proud of Becky and team for doing these important efforts. This extra work was as a volunteer in addition to all the hours of work she does at TACA.

Its an important set of questions and I am glad Becky asked.

It will be interesting to see if there are some responses generated... one can hope.


McCain has been the underdog from the get go, trailing in the polls.
His stance on Thimerosal, friendship with Lieberman who has demand VAERS inquiry and Pharma contributions predate any campaigning.
Palin has governed a state bigger than Texas for 2 years. Obama has 143 working days as a senator.
Palin increased Special Needs spending to 70K per child in her state and rebated revenue back to families while tackling reform, as a woman no less.
Her nephew has Autism.
All of this pre dates last minute campaigning.
Jenny shouldn't feel bad McCain stiffed Letterman to bailout the economy.
Maybe she needs to bug him again for that interview taking advantage of every opportunity.


Vaccine induced Autism impacts so many parts of our nation.
The economy:
Families struggling to shoulder 3-4 million in uninsured health care.
Business losing an employable work force.
Many will go bankrupt or lose their homes with medical expenses that would have otherwise not existed.
The president's budget for special education has risen in billions.
Vaccine issues impact civil liberties like choice. They impact the sanctity of life when we condone poison injected into the womb.
They threaten national security when Pharma advises toxins with inadequate safety measures, injected into our troops. ie Anthrax vaccines.
Vaccine safety is hardly one issue.
If neglected, it impacts every facet of our life. Like Autism did 5 years ago to our family. Our savings and my children's childhood forever changed because no one had the moral fortitude to reform policy.
I don't want my freedom to abstain trounced on by a politician ill informed and afraid of Polio.

A couple months ago I made my choice for McCain. He wasn't my original pick as a die hard Republican, turned swing voter this year.
I studied both parties and watched for their stand on vaccines.
I based my choice on Sarah Palin's special needs funding in Alaska increasing (by the thousands) per child. A wise investment in our future.
Her dogged stand for life over a culture of death. Obama voted 3X against a born alive bill. Will he care about our disabled children, in a day and age where they are voted from Kindergarten and shock collars are acceptable means of controlling behavior? Will our children one day be considered unworthy of life when Social Security dries up and they exit school in the next 8 years?

John McCain choosing a factory worker with an ASD child to speak at the convention spoke to me louder than words. His friendship with our advocate Joe Lieberman makes me feel secure that the VAERS data may one day be publicly scrutinized.
Most importantly, his Open record on how much cash he took from Pharma (1/2 than Obama)and a clear statement from him questioning Thimerosal's roll in Autism swung my vote back.
I am troubled that he will not win but I'm casting a McCain vote never-the-less.
For me he is the best choice for my kid's future not to be marred by Pharma/CDC mandates.


Ms. Estepp, you are a Mother Warrior. I sincerely appreciate your activism. I also appreciate your husbands service to this country.

It should be obvious by now that Obama will not support parental vaccination choice. That said, then why would anyone think that an Obama Administration's autism/vaccine position would differ from what we have now. There will be NO CHANGE.

Sue M.

Sadly, I am of the opinion that neither one of these candidates gives a rat's ass about this topic. When it comes down to it, the same nonsense that has been going on for years will continue under each of the candidates administrations... Big Pharma and corrupt government agencies (CDC, FDA, etc) won't be changing at all so I will not be getting my hopes up at all that things will change. To some, I know that this sounds like a very negative opinion which does not help... I recognize that. My point is, it will still be up to parents to speak out and educate because our "politicians" won't be. Of course, that's just my opinion. I hope that I am wrong.

Ron Paul was the only one that I saw who really would have stood behind a parental choice policy for vaccinations. These other two are just more of the same.


Hello Diane,

Here's Obama's response to the A-Champ Vaccine Choice Question:

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

Obama: 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. "

He never answered the question about vaccine choice. He just says he's for health screenings, and a health screening is not a vaccine. Choosing to completely avoid answering that question plus his previous statements where he specifically told us "I am not for selective vaccination" clearly show us his current stance towards vaccines is NO he does not support Vaccine Choice.

"Early diagnosis and intervention" are great, but they are not the *best* practice for autism. The BEST practice is prevention. "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure"

On the other hand, McCain's official stance is
"2) Parental choice is paramount. 'The key to health care reform is to restore control to the patients themselves.'"

As for health care, after watching the debates, I admit I did not understand McCain's healthcare plan, but after reading about it, I think it's a great idea. In fact, the "Tax Policy Center, agrees that the McCain proposals will result in a "net tax benefit" of more than $1,200 for an average tax payer. A recent Lewin Group study estimated savings of more than $1,400 per American family – almost three times the savings as under the Obama plan." Here's where you can get more information on McCain's health plan:

And Obama's idea of government-run healthcare concerns me, because I don't want the politicians who deny that autism is caused by vaccines and who swear up and down that vaccines are safe to be in control of my children's doctors.

So I'm voting for McCain

Sue M.

Sadly, I am of the opinion that neither one of these candidates gives a rat's ass about this topic. When it comes down to it, the same nonsense that has been going on for years will continue under each of the candidates administrations... Big Pharma and corrupt government agencies (CDC, FDA, etc) won't be changing at all so I will not be getting my hopes up at all that things will change. To some, I know that this sounds like a very negative opinion which does not help... I recognize that. My point is, it will still be up to parents to speak out and educate because our "politicians" won't be. Of course, that's just my opinion. I hope that I am wrong.

Ron Paul was the only one that I saw who really would have stood behind a parental choice policy for vaccinations. These other two are just more of the same.

John Gilmore


Thank you for the immense amount of work you have done on this issue and congratulations on the results you have pried out of the McCain campaign. We need to thank loudly and publicly Sen. McCain for his position, and we need to use it to extract a similar commitment from Obama.

I agree with you that for us being a Republican or a Democrat doesn't make a lot of sense, I consider myself a member of the Autism Party.

Thank you again and we need to follow-up quickly and forceful on this important step forward.

Rachel Ford

Thank you Rebecca for your amazing work on this issue. I am a life-long democrat along with all of my family, but I am seriously thinking of voting for McCain. I will not be able to cast my vote for Obama unless he comes out with a more direct and informed statement. His web statements are vague and he ALWAYS uses the term ASD instead of autism, which comes across to me as an attempt to minimize the crisis and impact of this disease. On the other hand, McCain's statements use the word autism and he seems more aware and informed on the issue, certainly with regard to the role of vaccines.


I am a McCain supporter, and I'm thrilled that he understands the gravity of this issue. I do believe that if Obama becomes President, this will become a non-issue.
With either outcome, I believe we need to organize a peaceful rally in Washington, D.C. to educate the Washington politicians that they will NOT take our parental rights for our children's health away from us. This is America, the country we love, and mandatory vaccines which are unsafe and untested have no place in our society.
We should be ashamed of how Big Pharma has used our children as guinea pigs. Eyes are opening to the facts all over this nation.
Let's bring eveyone together, those that believe vaccines are beneficial but need testing & greening for safety, those that believe vaccines are harmful period, those that believe parental choice is a right -- all of us should agree that America is behind in understanding the potential unnecessary vaccine risks - and how it is all tied to money, money money! Press coverage would be there if we were were in Washington, D.C. right after the inauguration of our new President.

Just wondering

I read this somewhere else on McCain's response to this questionaire:

Taking matters into her own hands, New Jersey parent Claudine Liss attended an Obama fundraiser with the express intention of getting an answer. Liss explains, "I shook his hand and would not let go until he answered my question. He looked right at me and said, „I am not for selective vaccination. I believe it will bring back deadly diseases, like polio.‟" Liss and many others are declining to vaccinate their children using the CDC-recommended schedule. New Jersey parents are furious about the first-ever mandated flu shot required for day care and preschool. Seven hundred people rallied in Trenton last week in support of vaccination choice. The freedom of choice issue resonates deeply and has made national news, with coverage on Fox News TV, ABC World News Tonight and an Associated Press article that was picked up by dozens of papers across the country.

Although your article here on AoA does not include Ms. Liss' comments. I was just wondering what her party affiliation is?

And I wonder why you excluded this statement from Ms. Liss here?

We're putting a lot of emphasis on this 5-10 second interaction with Ms. Liss and Barack Obama.

I don't know if I can make a decision based on this 5-10 seconds.

I have to wonder if Mr. Obama had a more lengthy interaction and learned of Ms. Liss's concerns would he have given the same response?

I thought I was all about the autism-vaccine issue too. Turns out I'm not.

I feel John McCain is desperate and his delay in responding to your questionare shows that. He'll promise anything at this point. He needs votes.

Maria B.

I am sorry, but this is a bit much. Jenny McCarthy flew in and was prepped for an interview with McCain in May of this year, but she was turned away with the explanation, "we're ahead in the polls." He didn't believe in vaccination choice enough to put himself out there when he was ahead, even though he knew it was an important issue for our children.

Now, he is behind in the polls - it really doesn't look like he is going to do it and all of the sudden, he is willing to put himself out there. He is desperate.

Sarah Palin shows no real promise for our children. There is a lot out there that demonstrates her lack of experience with the laws and what is really going on in the US education system.

I just think we need to recognize that there is a good chance that McCain is making this stance as a last ditch effort to win our votes.

Judith W. Mortensen

"Does anyone in real life put more faith in what people SAY than in what they do? Barack Obama has carried election-year makeovers to a new high, presenting himself a uniter of people, someone reaching across the partisan divide and the racial divide-after decades of promoting polarization in each of his successive roles and each of his choices of political allies." Quote from Thomas Sowell senior fellow of Hoover Institute at Stanford University. McCain has stood behind his actions even when they were politically unpopular. Health care reform on both sides is a "joke". JW Mortensen

Maurine Meleck

Too late for me-I already voted. And as important the vaccine issue is to me, I still cannot vote on one issue. One president cannot change the world. No matter who gets in office-we have work to be done to change the hearts and minds of all of our elected officials.
Maurine Meleck


As a non-vaccinating parent and homeschooling mother, parental rights top my list of concerns. The role of parents is increasingly under attack, and the Democratics have been at the forefront. See to learn more of the plan and to sign a petition to support a constitutional ammendment protecting parental rights.


Diane, yes, Obama replied to some of A-CHAMP's questions, but he completely dodged quite a few of them. And he made his position on selective vaccination very clear back in September. He is not for parental choice.

I agree with you on McCain's health plan being a joke.

Nonna C

McCain is not afraid to step up and get the job done. His running mate will compliment this attribute. He has my vote.


Sorry, but I don't believe much of what McCain says. I also think his health plan is a joke.

Additionally, if my memory is working correctly, Obama and Biden both responded to A-CHAMP's questions regarding Autism, while McCain did not.


I've said for years that there is no better way to judge the candidates then on the single most important issue, our future.

The out-right position of a candidate on the Autism-Thimerosal issue is the best way to tell the over-all character of the person.

We have seen so many elected officials fail to act in accordance with the moral responsibility to stand in the way of harm still being done to our precious babies it can only be described as un-American.

It's disheartening to ponder that some nine years since public health officials told the American people that the mercury was out of vaccines, that unthinkable ethylmercury exposures continue to this day. Not to speak of the total lack of good old fashioned American outrage among those elected to serve the people over the fact that American regulatory authorities have yet to establish the exact safe exposure limits for ethylmercury.

Sadly, after thirty years of obfuscation our children remain living proof that Thimerosal is neither generally recommended as safe nor generally recommended as effective.

America can no longer be the pie-chart society that willingly accepts even a sliver of sacrificial children.

If it takes defiance, so be it. If it takes injection rejection, so be it.

Our children's safety and our peace of mind as forbearers is worth far more than material costs the true parasitic elements of immunology have inflicted upon us.

God speed, John McCain.


Kudos to Rebecca Estepp for her monumental efforts regarding this extremely important topic. Vaccination choice is a basic parental right. Vaccine safety needs to become priority. Senator Obama is clearly oblivious and uninformed. Senator McCain is well aware of the problems and solutions. On November 4, America will have the opportunity to save thousands of lives from lifelong disabilities due to vaccine injuries. Will they make the right choice for our community?

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