South Carolina's $21 Million Cut Affects Autism Services

McCain or Obama: Who Will Reform Vaccine Safety?

2008Disclaimer: THIS PRESS RELEASE IS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND IS NOT AN EXPRESS OR IMPLIED ENDORSEMENT OF EITHER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE.  The organizations listed below do not favor or oppose any candidate for public office.  We are committed to alerting our community and the public about how the new administration and policymakers plan to address issues affecting both autism and vaccine safety concerns.

San Diego, CA, October 27, 2008 - Parents, scientists and clinicians met this weekend in San Diego to discuss the current state of autism research.  Organizations, representing hundreds of thousands of voters nationwide, are calling for Senator McCain to state his policy position on vaccine safety publicly and for Senator Obama to officially clarify comments made earlier this fall by noon October 30, 2008 so voters can make a final informed decision for their candidate of choice.

The community gratefully acknowledges the commitment by both Senator Obama and Senator McCain at the last debate to aggressively research the causes of and treatments for autism, a national health crisis affecting at least one in 150 children. However, the community remains concerned about vaccine safety reform. Reform issues include the removal of neurotoxic ingredients in vaccines and alteration of the present vaccination schedule for at risk children.

Emerging evidence in the scientific literature suggest that environmental factors including vaccines, may contribute to autism. The nation is facing a crisis of confidence in the safety of the vaccine program. More and more parents are opting out of the current vaccine schedule which has never been adequately safety tested. The Centers for Disease Control admitted last April that “simultaneous vaccination is incompletely studied at the time of licensure.” (page 33:  HERE)

In May, Rebecca Estepp of San Diego, who has a vaccine injured child with autism, contacted both campaigns for clarification on their positions with regard to vaccine safety reform.  She made a plea for two Executive Orders to be issued within the first one hundred days of entering office including the removal all mercury from all vaccines and a moratorium on the addition of new vaccines to the recommended list for children until the current vaccine schedule can be proven safe. 

On October 20th, Estepp received a detailed response from Douglas Holtz-Eakin, senior policy advisor to the McCain campaign, stating that if elected, McCain “will work with all agencies to take all necessary steps in an expedient manner to ensure safe vaccines for every American family.”  Further, McCain endorsed parental vaccination choice stating, “The key to health care reform is to restore control to the patients themselves.” 

In contrast, Senator Obama never responded to Estepp’s requests for improved vaccine safety, responding to her only with regard to his position on autism.  Estepp is disappointed: “I truly wanted responses from both parties and while the concerns of vaccine safety and autism overlap, they are in fact two separate issues.  I didn’t ask either candidate for their positions on autism. I asked for vaccine safety improvements on behalf of all children.” 

However, earlier this fall, New Jersey parent Claudine Liss attended an Obama fundraiser with the express intent to get answers.  After asking similar questions as Estepp, Liss explains, “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 current 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 earlier this month in support of vaccination choice. 

Estepp extends a final plea to Senator Obama to clarify his position: “This is a party-neutral issue and many of our parents are waiting to make up their minds.  Senator McCain believes parents have a choice in how they vaccinate their children.  Senator Obama appears to disagree.  I sincerely hope that Senator Obama misspoke that night in New Jersey.”  (HERE)

Autism Action Network, Autism United, Generation Rescue, Moms Against Mercury,  No Mercury, Schafer Autism Report, Talk About Curing Autism, Unlocking Autism and U. S. Autism and Asperger’s Association

For peer reviewed research on the connection between autism and vaccines, please visit: Generation Rescue.



Raymond Gallup

The article clearly states that Senator McCain wants to "restore health care reform to parents themselves." Senator Obama's silence is deafing on this. Remember Obama received big funding from the drug companies.

But it doesn't really matter since the polls say Obama will win and ACORN with voter fraud is helping him. Too bad!! I think we would have had two autism advocates in McCain and Palin. Obviously it ain't going to happen.

Besides autism, there is much more that worries me about Senator Obama......Bill Ayers (domestic terrorist), Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Rashid Khalidi, Rev. Wright and Louis Farrakhan and Tony Rezko (slum lord).
Your friends and connections say a lot about a person's judgement. In the case of Rashid
Khalidi, the LA Times won't realize the videotape where Khalidi is saying anti-semitic remarks while both of them are praising each other

"Distribute the wealth" and "our troops are air raiding villages and killing civilians."
doesn't give me a warm fuzzy feeling.

But then what do I know? I'm just a dumb Vietnam-era US Navy veteran.

There is a saying........."Be careful what you wish for, you may get it."



P.S. to my last comment -
I totally support the press release above and the efforts by these organizations to get a response from Obama on vaccine choice and safety issues. I am not saying that Obama shares and understands our views on vaccines.

But I think if you want to vote for a candidate who does share our views, you would need to write in someone who has no chance of being elected president, such as Rep. Dave Weldon, Rep. Dan Burton, David Kirby, Dan Olmsted, Kim Stagliano, Lisa Ackerman, or Julia Berle.

Like Alaska, Obama's and Biden's states also do not have philosophical vaccine exemptions. But my point (in my prior post) is, if Palin is such a great advocate for disabilities, and knows so much about autism because of her nephew, and would be in our corner, why is she seemingly doing nothing about the issue of vaccine choice in Alaska?

McCain's response to Rebecca Estepp's question about the vaccine schedule was:

"John McCain believes the key to health care reform is to restore control to the patients themselves. Families should be in charge of their health care…and have more control over care. In light of this, John McCain believes in the right for individuals and in the case of children, parents, to make informed health care decisions, and does not support pre-empting these prerogatives."

That's pretty darn vague. He does NOT say, "I will issue an executive order superceding states' rights to make and enforce rules on vaccine compliance and giving all parents the power to choose which vaccines their children receive and when." How is his statement so much better than Obama's statement that health screening would not be mandatory?

When I hear people say that only McCain supports vaccine safety or only McCain cares about autism, I feel the need to put some information out there "for your consideration" (to quote Rod Serling).

All of us will make the best decisions we can based on our own experiences, values, and knowledge, and I respect that.


Currently it is up to each state to determine the rules on vaccine exemptions. According to the map at

-- about two states allow medical exemptions only,

-- about 18 states allow medical, religious, and philosophical exemptions, and

-- the rest of the states allow only medical and religious exemptions.

If McCain believes in parents' right to choose whether to vaccinate, I wonder whether he would actually overrule the states on this issue, or would he let states continue to make their own rules. It's one thing to have a belief, it is quite another to act upon it.

BTW, Alaska does not allow philosophical exemptions. Has Palin done anything to try to bring about a philosophical exemption? If so, this is a well kept secret.

Kelli Ann Davis

"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."

Considering the fact that O’Bama is prepared to introduce a bill which DOES NOT specifically support research into “environmental triggers” (in fact, it doesn’t *specify* much of anything in regards to research but its title certainly gives the impression that research is a vital component of the bill) and the *obvious omission* of the biomedical community’s voice in the formation of the bill (for example, the CDC is tasked to facilitate the rapid dissemination of evidence-based and promising practices) I don’t know how much stock I’d put in the above statement Twyla.

Bottom Line: If O’Bama is serious about addressing potential environmental triggers, I’d like to strongly suggest that one of the first moves they should do is to incorporate our community into the process -- IMMEDIATELY -- in regards to both the current bill and any future plans they have to address this national crisis.

Kelli Ann Davis
D.C. Political Liaison
Generation Rescue


Thanks for the info, Twyla. I'm glad to see he did a go into more detail as far as autism goes. That definately does make my decision easier.

Still have not decided if I'll vote at all, it's going to be horrific to stand in line and have Jaymes in that booth with me. Don't know that I'm brave enough. But it would suck if Obama lost by one vote.

Kathy Blanco

McCain Palin have my vote because Palin's sister has an autistic child, that's good enough for me. And I do foresee universal health coverage MANDATING with jail time if you don't vaccinate your kids, if not call your butt to CPS. I want a FREE america, and I want no one to spread my already meager autism budget wealth to those who think they deserve mine. I want someone to champion our causes, and not a pretty talking silk suit who thinks he speaks for me. I want someone who loves America, and who loves what it is founded on, freedoms. I want a culture of life. I want a culture of independence, and not having pharmaceutical interests being upheld in the White House. I want a first lady who championed saving a child from the trenches of poverty, and who has a heart of gold for the forgotten. I want America to heal from being told a mountain of lies of how our system works. I want someone who promises one thing, and does that thing, not another as in the case of Obama who said he wouldn't take money, yet puts on a big TV spot on all national networks. That money would have could have gone to his spread the wealth message and really mean it. Put your money wher your mouth is Obama.


Yes, Twyla, if you continue to post Obama's non-answers, then I will continue to point out that he doesn't answer the questions that were asked of him. Plain and simple. If it doesn't bother you that he doesn't answer the questions, that's fine. It bothers me greatly. As for Obama's sincerity, that's simply a matter of your opinion. I never said McCain has answered everything, but when asked the question about vaccine choice, he answered it. No doublespeak, no nonsense about screenings. I am fully aware that Amber does not believe vaccines cause autism, but she made a statement about Obama and I responded to it. Whether one believes that vaccines are a cause or not, most reasonable people would agree the proper research and safety testing should be done.

I can't really be accused of being a one-issue voter, since I would not vote for Obama on numerous issues. However, if it came down to the vaccine issue alone, then yes, I would be a one-issue voter. Maybe it doesn't make a difference to you if my daughter gets injected with more neurotoxins, but it makes a difference to me. So don't tell me it doesn't make sense to vote on this issue alone. I'm responsible for my daughter, and that's reflected in my vote.


PhillyLisa, McCain has not answered those questions either, except that he said that parents should have a choice on whether to vaccinate. Since Amber does not believe that vaccines cause autism, I don't think that is her primary concern.

I don't think it would be realistic of Obama to say right now how much money he will spend on researching envrionmental triggers. I think it's great that he says he will study this, and that he acknowledges that autism numbers have increased and that this is a crisis which needs to be addressed.

You have criticized me before for continuing to post these quotes, but since you keep making these arguements, and others seem not to have seen them, I am posting them again from Obama's 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.

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 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." Talk about being "disturbingly evasive"! What have those agencies done for us lately? These agencies say that vaccines are already safe as they are now.

There is a whole lot at stake in this election, including Supreme Court appointments, the economy, war, international relations, and the environment.

I really don't think it makes sense to vote against Obama solely on the vaccine issue. At this point, we do not know what McCain would do about vaccines if elected. When running for office, Bush said he would remove thimerosal, but he didn't do it.

Whoever is elected, we will need to educate him.


Amber, Twyla is correct, Obama has made statements on autism. If you read the A-CHAMP questions, he does say he will fully fund IDEA, and I think that's great. But he is disturbingly evasive on many of the other quesitons. When asked, he doesn't say how much funding he will request to study environmental triggers. He does not answer the question about investigating vaccines as a possible cause of autism. He just talks about restoring confidence and open communication, which is ironic since he won't openly answer these quesitons. He does not answer the question about supporting a large-scale federal study of health outcomes between vaccinated and unvaccinated groups. And as for the crucial question about vaccination choice, he gives another non-answer. He says he believes we should have the right to access screenings and refuse screenings. Nobody asked him about screenings. We want to know whether or not we will have the right to refuse certain vaccines for our children. But then, he has already made himself perfectly clear on that issue back in September when he said he was not for selective vaccination.

Mary Webster


Vaccination requirements vary from state to state. To find your state's requirements, you can visit the National Vaccine Information Center ( This is a very informative site that will have much of the state-specific information you're looking for.

Most states do have religious exemptions which allow children who are not vaccinated according to the state's mandates to attend public school, if the parents do not vaccinate because it would be in conflict with their religious beliefs. Two states, however, do not have religious exemptions.

Also, parents in some school districts in states with medical and religious exemptions have been subjected to intense scrutiny, so obtaining an exemption is not always as easy as filling out a form.

Dan Olmsted has written about the pressures parents face to vaccinate their children here - and about this time last year parents in Maryland were hauled into court to either vaccinate their children or suffer the consequences -,2933,312066,00.html.

There is a national database within which all vaccination records are kept, so, yes, they do keep track of every child's vaccinations and school officials can gain access to this information and often do act on it. Some school districts are very strict and require proof of vaccination from a doctor or revaccination, if records indicate a child is out of compliance with the existing vaccine mandates.

All things considered, this is a very important subject for many in our community who believe their children were injured by vaccines. Medical exemptions are possible in all states, but parents who do not wish to vaccinate the siblings of a child with autism may not be able to get this type of exemption for all of their children.

Some states do have philosophical exemptions. In those states, parents must simply complete a form stating they do not wish to vaccinate their children to be exempted. Parents in these states can breathe a sigh of relief -- for now. (Laws can always be changed.) The majority of parents aren't so lucky.

But, visit the NVIC website. There's much valuable information there.


When you mention mandatory vaccines, what does the mandatory part mean exactly- is it in reference to being allowed in school? My kids aren't old enough for regular school, so I am obviously not well versed on that. I know that if my kids are late on their vaccs, no one calls me up to yell at me, and it seems like it would be awfully hard to keep track of all the kids. I thought that if you said it was for religious reasons, you could get around the mandatory vaccs?

I still have no clue who to vote for, honestly. Both have good points, but I really feel like neither is going to put Autism related anything up as a big priority. I hate to admit it, being more liberal minded, but I'm leaning toward Mccain/Palin just because they made a formal statement about their intentions regarding Autism. Obama really didn't... I'm surprised at that actually.

Martin Cowen

Those hoping that National Health Care will allow them the choice to opt out of a mandatory vaccine schedule need to remember our status in the world: we are fringe, nut cases, because we do not believe in mandatory vaccines. They think that we want polio back! The vast majority of people believe differently from us. When majority rules, as it will in National Health Care, we, the minority, will lose. The minority is us! We need health care freedom, not health care mandates. Martin


Honestly, I think a lot of this is just kissing up for votes from both candidates. Neither one is going to make Autism or Vaccines priority number one with everything else a mess here is the US. There will be no huge sudden change. The best we can hope for is that we can shift from this pointless war to worrying about our own people, our own healthcare system.


Something very important to consider is not just the party platforms concerning autism, but this new position that both candidates plan to create of Special Needs Advocate. The person who fills this position can make or break vaccine reform. Sen. McCain has already selected Gov. Palin to fill this position as he has stated numerous times. I think it is essential to consider how she would represent the autism community and vaccines. Please look at my blog where I explore this further:

Kevin Barry

"calling for Senator McCain to state his policy position on vaccine safety publicly and for Senator Obama to officially clarify comments made earlier this fall by noon October 30, 2008 so voters can make a final informed decision for their candidate of choice."

Obama, McCain, Biden and Palin will each be speaking at @ 4 rallys per day between now and the election. Both campaigns need to articulate their vaccine policy.

Please forward this release to any press contacts you have, especially if you live in a swing state. The candidates will be less likely to discuss vaccines on camera after 11/4.


In response to the comment re: "one size fits all healthcare," I urge readers to think carefully about the rhetoric vs the reality.

Our current profit-driven health care system means that there are more profits to made, the more sick children and people there are in need of care.

Some of those who have health insurance do have choices in health providers, but most have very limited choices and many have none. And our insurance companies dictate what kind of care they will or won't pay for. I find it strange that expensive experimental drugs and treatments are often covered by insurance, but inexpensive vitamin and mineral supplements almost never are. (Yet the latter, purchased out of pocket, have worked very well for my family in numerous situations.)

While admittedly U.S. government programs are not known for efficiency, any health care system operated to keep costs down rather than profits up is more likely to work to keep people well, rather than to keep them sick. Those in charge of such a system are far more likely to "realize" that thimerosal-containing vaccines (and maybe others) are not such a great deal after all.

It is noteworthy that several other countries that do have universal government sponsored health care have generally reduced numbers of required vaccines in comparison to the US, several long ago outlawed the use of vaccines with thimerosal, some have outlawed all amalgams, and some even pay for replacement of these with fillings that don't contain mercury.

I am not aware of any plan for privatized health care via privatized insurance that would, or could, be anything other than profit-based. IMO profit-based medicine is the evil we are fighting. No one should profit from the illnesses of others, and certainly not from making others ill--as our current system seems to allow, and promote.

Given the past 8 years, it is difficult for me to hope or trust that a govt program is a possible answer, but maybe if, for a change, we have an INTELLIGENT leader who LISTENS and CARES about something other than power and money, there would be some hope that a reasonably better system for basic health care could be developed.

That is why I voted for Obama. I do think there is at least a hope that he will bring change to our current health care system. It will be up to all of us to help shape that change however. I am convinced Obama will listen if enough people speak up.

With McCain, all I foresee is more profit-driven health insurance and medical care wherein the winners are the CEO's and stockholders of hospital, insurance, and pharma companies, and the losers ultimately include EVERYONE (including those stockholders), because sooner or later, all of us end up needing some kind of medical care, and the quality available in the US is hardly what it is cracked up to be. If it were, there would not be so many deaths from medical errors, drug complications, and such a high infant mortality rate. There wouldn't be emerging epidemics of autoimmune diseases like asthma, diabetes, CFS, etc. And there wouldn't be such a large portion of the population essentially excluded from medical care on the basis that they don't have enough money to pay the high costs for the services of medical professionals, or health insurance.

Health care should be about keeping people well, not just recovering (or suppressing the symptoms) of those who are ill.
And ultimately, none of us are going to be able to stay healthy, or raise healthy children, if we don't have a clean, healthy environment to live in. There is absolutely no question in my mind as to which party has sincere concerns about reducing pollution and a sincere desire to keep the Earth's environments intact. And it isn't the party with a vice-presidential candidate (from the north country) who thinks the melting ice caps are really nothing to be particularly concerned about and under whose leadership the Alaska govt offered $2 million dollars for a study on polar bears for which the conclusions were essentially pre-determined--you know, kind of like those CDC sponsored studies on thimerosal.

Vote Obama. Or Vote Ron Paul or Ralph Nader. Anybody but Palin/McCain. Those two are not going to lead us to truth, or better govt, or better health care, or a cleaner environment, or even less discrimination against people with differences or disabilities. Listen carefully to the speeches of Palin and McCain and ask yourself if you really want people who think nothing of calling others names, as the leaders of our country. IMO name-calling does not lead to greater rationality and careful thought on anyone's part, about anything. And it certainly does not lead me to think that McCain/Palin can teach others to treat ALL people with respect and fairness.

We need a leader who at least tries to see the world through the eyes/experiences/viewpoints of others, and treats everyone with respect. IMO, Obama meets this criteria.


Edward in PA

"...Senator Obama appears to disagree. I sincerely hope that Senator Obama misspoke that night in New Jersey.”

No, i don't think he misspoke. I don't think there is any part of "I am not for selective vaccination. I believe it will bring back deadly diseases, like polio." that can be interpreted differently.

Look folks, it's simple. Obama is a liberal and liberals believe that gov't knows more how to take care of us than we ourselves. I don't mean to offend anyone. Yet, that is the attitude that is demonstrated by that camp quite often.

As for McCain, he has voted with Bush 90% of the time; yet there is still another 10% that he didn't. Plus, McCain has something Bush didn't and that is a running mate with a Downs Syn. child, and who has a sister with an ASD child. If i was a gambling man, tho i'm not, except in board games, i would vote for the man whose party respects the ability of the nations citizens to have some intelligence on how to take care of themselves and there children.


Whomever wins I say 1=21=2009 will be a great day to start flooding the White House switch board and fax machines with calls.

What do say?

Martin Cowen

You can be sure that National Health Care will include the one-size-fits-all requirement that everyone gets their free vaccines from their government doctor.


The bitter partisan battles aside I hope an pray both parties and the election day winner will put our children first.
Especially before developing any kind of national health care system.
Not one of us whether Republican, Democrat or Independent wants to see another child lost to vaccine injury.
We have lost all informed consent, recourse through the court system and in some states the ability to exempt.
What have we gotten in return, Autism rates that supersede the last decade's figures.
A vote for vaccine choice is a vote for our future.

Carolyn Coughlin

Given that McCain thinks it's important who you 'pal around with' and he clearly 'palled around with Bush' (voting with him 90% of the time, appearing at many functions with him) I think it's important to point out that Bush clearly stated in 2004 that he was against mercury in vaccines then actively fought a provision to take it out in 2007!

So he used our community to get reelected, then turned his back on us. I feel that McCain is very influenced by Bush no matter how much he says he's a 'maverick' and his voting record and years long association with him proves it. I believe that it is much safer to elect an extremely intelligent man, Obama, who clearly cares about children, medical care and the education of our community, and continue to educate him about vaccine safety. But whomever gets elected, we as a community must stand together and hold him accountable for every promise he has made to us!

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