Senator Tom Harkin (D) Iowa, was named Chairman of the Senate Health Committee yesterday, succeeding Senator Ted Kennedy who recently passed away. More to follow.
Meanwhile, take a look at what this might mean for the autism community, in this post from Katie Wright from August 7, 2009.
By Katie Wright
Huge thank you's to the eloquent and courageous Autism Moms who spoke at yesterday’s Congressional hearings! View the hearings HERE. They were so wonderful and made our community proud!
Mrs. Boyd (I did not catch their first names) said we do not have a choice about whether or not to aggressively research causation factors- including vaccines. She stated emphatically that she is pro-vaccination but parents everywhere are choosing not to vaccinate their children in record numbers because they feel the schedule is too aggressive and no research has been done on the effects of 36 vaccines on babies under two.
Mrs. Halvorson is a farmer’s wife and mother in Iowa. She epitomizes every Mom in America struggling mightily to heal her sick autistic child. Halvorson bravely recounted her daughter’s terrifying descent into autism. Like so many of our children, Halvorson’s daughter regressed in autism and became seriously ill after too many vaccines too soon. Her daughter’s labs revealed toxic levels of heavy metals – metals which have assaulted this child’s brain and body. The family must also struggle to find the money to pay for the child’s treatment, none of which is covered by insurance.
Both Moms are incredibly well educated about autism science, biomedical treatments and the need for comprehensive, authoritative and independent vaccine safety research. Boyd correctly pointed out that nearly all of the touted “16 studies” Insel attempted to deify have been conducted and paid for by those with a significant financial interest in the outcome. Boyd asked why so many of the people sitting at the table designing govt vaccine research studies or voting to increase our vaccine schedule also serve on vaccine company boards or hold vaccine patents. Good Question!
Senator Harkin listened carefully to the Moms and posed the question to Insel, “why have you (IACC) not funded research on our baby and toddler vaccine schedule?” Harkin noted that there has been an approximately a 4 fold increase in the number of vaccines given to babies under 2 since 1980, with no concurrent increase in vaccine safety research.
Insel tried to filibuster Harkin with those tired old Paul Offit talking points, “asked and answered! The research is conclusive…no more wasting money when there are more promising leads, blah, blah, blah.” What ARE these “more promising leads” that Insel is always droning on about? I don’t think he even knows.
Harkin wouldn’t let it go and keep pushing Insel to answer the question. Why won’t he finance vaccine schedule research, when clearly everyone else wants it done and believes it could easily be done? Boyd pointed out there are huge, heterogeneous populations of unvaccinated families all over the US. Insel turned red and started his usual carrying on about how “unethical” that would be. Unethical how? These parents are not vaccinating their kids period- whether a researcher takes data on them is immaterial.
Then the talk turned to Insels’ favorite topic- The Killer Measles! Insel’s arguments got even more bizarre as he somehow equated collecting data from unvaccinated homeschoolers as leaving all of America vulnerable to a plague of killer measles. Harkin’s response was candid and funny. He told Insel that he had the measles, mumps and whooping cough as a kid and recovered, no problem. The other senators all chimed in with the same story- they survived, they are OK. Let’s be serious, is the measles really our #1 children’s health problem? Harkin asked the autism Moms if families thought measles was worse than autism- I think they actually laughed.
Insel glowered and stated sanctimoniously that although the Senators recovered from these diseases MANY CHILDREN DIE! OK, OK, drama queen we get it. Of course we all want to prevent infectious diseases but the best way to do that is make American parents feel confident in the safety of our vaccine schedule- not by getting hysterical over the measles. Why the histronics Insel? This is not an either/ or. We CAN have a safe and effective immunization program AND we CAN conduct vaccine safety research.
Everyone in the room was silently cheering on Senator Harkin, he did a wonderful job of examining a complex public health crisis and asking intelligent questions.
Insel finished his testimony with the same old garbage we have been hearing for years. Basically Insel’s mind is made up (no rational discourse or scientific evidence to the contrary will sway him!) and no matter how frightened millions of American families are about vaccine safety, Insel, a nonelected bureaucrat, has declared vaccine safety research off limits, for good.
So much for open minds! So much for listening to our families! So much for democracy! Insel’s IACC is autism’s North Korea, refusing to listen to the constituency, refusing to compromise, refusing to take advice from the Senators who secured IACC’s money in the first place. Insel he has decided for all of us that there can never be a vaccinated/ unvaccinated study, period, end of story, case closed!
Katie Wright is a Contributing Editor to Age of Autism.